From: Virginia Tech Police Department and Virginia Tech Sustainable Transportation

In Virginia, a bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle, and its rider is granted the same rights and responsibilities as a driver of any other vehicle. Because bicyclists regularly share paths with a variety of different commuters, they must be especially aware of their own rights as well as the rights of pedestrians and other vehicles. No matter where you choose to ride, there are laws and safety concerns that every bicyclist should be aware of:

Virginia Law

  • Obey all traffic signs, signals, lights, and markings. (Virginia Code § 46.2-830)
  • Ride with the flow of traffic. This is especially important on one-way streets like Drillfield Drive. (Virginia Code § 46.2-802)
  • Do not wear headphones or earbuds. (Virginia Code § 46.2-1078)
  • Come to a complete stop before entering a public roadway. (Virginia Code § 46.2-826)
  • Any bicycle being operated during hours of darkness must have a white front headlight that can be seen from at least 500 feet away and a red rear reflector that can be seen from at least 50 feet away. (Virginia Code § 46.2-1015)
  • Bicyclists are required to signal when making a turn and when stopping. (Virginia Code § 46.2-849)

Safety Tips

  • Be alert and pay attention to vehicles (parked and moving), pedestrians, and other road users.
  • Bicycle helmet use is an important practice that promotes personal safety. Most serious injuries resulting from a fall or crash while riding a bike are to the head and can be prevented by wearing a helmet.
  • It is often safer to ride in the street and obey all traffic laws rather than to ride on the sidewalk and maneuver around slow-moving pedestrians. If you chose to ride on the sidewalk, ride slowly and communicate your presence to nearby pedestrians. In heavy pedestrian traffic, dismount and walk.
  • Be aware of local ordinances that prohibit riding on sidewalks while off campus.
  • It is important to avoid swerving in and around parked vehicles so that you remain visible to other traffic at all times and so that you may avoid being hit when the doors of parked vehicles are opened in front of you.
  • When you are riding your bicycle during hours of darkness, you want to make sure that you are seen. A red rear light helps ensure that you are seen by motorists.
  • Crosswalks are designed for pedestrians. Riders approaching crosswalks must yield to pedestrians. Riders attempting to cross a street using the crosswalk should stop before entering the roadway as vehicles may not have time to react.
  • Cyclists should avoid passing a vehicle stopped in the roadway on the right or left.  You may not be able to see the hazard that the vehicle is stopping for until it is too late.
  • When overtaking a vehicle while approaching an intersection or parking lot entrance, verify that the vehicle is not preparing to turn into your path.
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