Bicycling in Virginia - Kamerow Law Office
Bicycling in Virginia

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Alexandria, VA 22311
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Like most other states, Virginia law says that bicyclists have all the rights and all the duties of any other road user. In practice, this means a bicycle rider must follow all traffic laws unless the provision states otherwise. Local municipalities may have additional provisions that apply to bicyclists.

Bicyclists on sidewalks, in crosswalks, or on shared use paths have the rights and responsibilities of pedestrians, and must yield to pedestrians in these areas. Some local governments prohibit bicycle riding on sidewalks in business districts. Bicyclists must come to a complete stop before entering a marked crosswalk if a stop sign is present, but in the absence of such a sign, the cyclist may proceed without stopping if there is no cross traffic.

Virginia bicyclists must obey all traffic control devices, but there is an exception provided for signal lights that do not respond. The rider must come to a complete stop and wait for two complete signal cycles or two minutes, whichever is less. Provided there is no cross traffic, the cyclist can treat the signal as a stop sign, yield as appropriate, and then proceed through the intersection.

A bicyclist must ride in the right lane as close as practicable to the right side. However, on a one-way street a cyclist may ride in the leftmost lane as close as practicable to the left side of the lane. There are exceptions, such as when a bicyclist is turning left, passing other vehicles, or avoiding hazards. Riders must not use a right turn lane if intending to continue straight through an intersection. If a lane is too narrow to share safely side by side with a motor vehicle, the rider may use the full width of the lane. Motorists are required to pass bicyclists at a reasonable speed with at least three feet of clearance.

Virginia bicyclists cannot ride more than two abreast, and if riding two abreast may impede overtaking traffic, they must ride single file. They cannot ride on interstates or controlled access highways and these are marked with conspicuous signs.

Turns must be indicated with standard hand signals using the left hand. Unlike a motorist, however, a right turn can be indicated by simply pointing right with the right hand. Bicyclists must keep one hand on the handlebars.

At night, a bicycle must be equipped with a white front light – not a reflector – that can be seen for 500 feet. It must have a red rear reflector visible for 600 feet, and if the road has a speed limit of 35 mph or more, the bike must have a red rear light also.