Virginia Bicycle Traffic Laws

Title 46.2 of the Code of Virginia applies to traffic laws. Bicyclists are generally expected to follow the rules of the road, however, there are some exceptions on these as there are also other special rules that apply just to bicycles.

Some of the most common special rules that apply just to bicycles are the use of hand signals when turning, requirements for wearing reflectors, as well as prohibition against riding on sidewalks. These are the most common traffic laws that pertain to bicycles in Virginia, and therefore could potentially impact a bicycle accident claim.

Importance of Bicycle Laws

It is important for Virginia bicyclists to follow traffic laws for a number of reasons. First, traffic laws exist for everyone’s safety. They are not there to hamper bicycles from having fun or to slow down their enjoyment of their commute or their sport. They are there to keep everyone safe.

It is also important to obey them because other drivers on the road, including motorcyclists, people operating cars and trucks, as well as other bicycles and pedestrians, expect bicycles to obey the rules of the road. If everyone obeys them then there is less likelihood of serious injuries.

If people fail to obey Virginia bicycle traffic laws, think they are above them, or they do not know that it applies to them, then other drivers will be confused and serious accidents can occur. If one cyclist, for example, decides not to ever stop at a stop sign or run through red light, they could very well be putting themselves and other people on the road at risk.

Impact on an Injury Case

If an individual fails to follow a safety rule, it could invoke contributory negligence. That is the main way an accident can impact a case.

it may be that a person is not liable for the injuries suffered even if they are partially or mostly at fault, or it may be a prime contributory negligence defense.

Specific Laws

A person should know that in Virginia, bicyclists are generally expected to ride in the rightmost lane as close to the right boundary line as possible. The bicyclists are generally expected to stop at all stop signs, obey signals, and yield.

Bicyclists may not always be aware that bicyclists are expected to yield to pedestrians in and on trails. The same goes on the road. Generally, automobiles are expected to share the road with bicycles and yield to bicycles in certain situations and yield to pedestrians in others.

Bicycles are expected to follow the Virginia bicycle traffic laws and then yield to pedestrians in situations where there is a question.

Keeping Up to Date

It is fairly common for the general assembly to review Virginia traffic laws as they apply to bicycles and review them on a semi-regular basis. So it is not every year that there is a new rule about bicycles, but more often every couple of years.

If someone is concerned about bicycle laws, it is important to check out bicycle advocacy groups. The Virginia DMV also often has organizations for bicyclists available as well.

Determining Fault

For motor vehicle drivers who are at fault in an accident that struck a bicycle, the bicycle laws are important because the motor vehicle may claim that while they are mostly at fault, the bicycle also failed to follow the Virginia bicycle traffic laws and therefore contributory negligence should apply.

The case can only be strengthened if the bicyclist was not at fault and they prove someone else’s negligence caused the injury. There are also some cases where there is a standard of care that was owed or breached and as a result, someone was injured. That qualifies as negligence. When that comes up in the context of a bicycle case, then the individual should face a potential cause of action.

Bicycle vs. Vehicle Dynamics

Bicyclists generally lack the modern technology and modern safety features that motor vehicles have. It is just a person sitting on some titanium, carbon, or aluminum. There are no airbags, other countermeasures, or thousands of pounds of plastic and rubber and steel to protect a person from an injury.

In addition, it is a rare car accident where someone hits the ground or their head hit something hard like the ground. In a motor vehicle accident, the individual tends to hit the steering wheel, the side of the window, or something like that, but it is generally not straight to the ground like in a bicycle accident.

These factors make the mechanics of a person being on a bicycle very different from a person being in a motor vehicle.