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In Virginia, bicycle riders must observe the same traffic laws that apply to drivers. The right to share the road carries responsibilities for both motorists and cyclists, and both groups should inform themselves about the applicable regulations.

Read on to learn more about how Virginia traffic laws affect bicyclists.

Yielding to pedestrians

Bicycles on the road must follow the laws for cars, but on a shared-use path, crosswalk or sidewalk cyclists must observe pedestrian guidelines. Unlike pedestrians, bike riders must come to a complete stop at stop signs and must yield to other travelers at a crosswalk without stop signs. Always yield to pedestrians and signal to them from behind when you are passing.

Proceeding through a red light

In certain circumstances, bicyclists can proceed through a red light. However, they must first:

  • Come to a complete stop for at least two minutes
  • Exercise due care (i.e., look both ways before continuing)
  • Treat the red light in the same way as a stop sign
  • Ensure that the road is clear and safe before proceeding
  • Yield the right of way to approaching drivers from both directions

Riding in designated areas

When riding on a roadway, a cyclist must remain on the right side of the highway and follow the traffic flow and/or stay as close to the curb or shoulder as possible. Move to the left only to avoid an obstacle or unsafe conditions. Do not ride between two traffic lanes or ride with more than two riders next to one another in the same lane.

Using hand signals

You must signal to cars and pedestrians at each intersection. Extend the left arm straight out horizontally to signal a left turn. For a right turn, either turn up the left arm at a 90-degree angle or extend the right arm straight out horizontally. If you plan to stop, place the left arm at a 90-degree angle facing downward.

Before riding your bike in a Virginia town where you have never cycled before, check local ordinances. Some municipalities have specific laws for bicycles, such as limiting when and where they can travel on the sidewalk.