Virginia laws safeguard cyclists

Published 10:48 am Saturday, September 25, 2010

Wednesday’s Farm Safety page in The Tidewater News, which focused on safety on rural roadways, prompted a reader to call the newsroom.

He was concerned about bicyclists who ride Virginia’s byways and their knowledge of the state’s laws.

A look at the Virginia Department of Transportation website shows that cyclists:

* Must ride with the flow of traffic on the right side of the highway.

* Riding slower than traffic shall ride as close as safely practicable to the right curb or edge of roadway. Exceptions are when a bicyclist overtakes and passes another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, preparing for a left turn, avoiding unsafe conditions or avoiding riding in a lane that turns.

* Must not ride between two lanes of traffic moving in the same direction unless one lane is a separate or mandatory turn lane.

* Need to ride in single file.

* Are not permitted to ride on interstate and certain controlled access highways.

* May ride on sidewalks unless prohibited by local ordinance or traffic control devices. While on sidewalks and shared use paths, bicyclists must always yield the right of way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before passing a pedestrian.

Several jurisdictions in Virginia require that every person 14 or younger wear a protective helmet whenever riding or being carried on a bicycle on any highway, sidewalk or public bicycle path. The City of Franklin and Southampton and Isle of Wight counties are not among jurisdictions that require helmets.

To our reader, hope that answers your questions and puts your mind at ease. Thanks for your concerns.