Cycling in Virginia: Laws and tips for bikers

These laws and tips are designed to reduce the risk of a bicycle accident in Virginia.

Springtime is in the air. As the weather warms, more and more Americans are taking to their two wheel forms of transportation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), reports that there was a 64 percent increase in bicycle use for commuting to work between the years of 2000 and 2012.

Bicycling is generally a safe and healthy means of transportation. Lawmakers in Virginia have passed various laws that are designed to help better ensure that cycling remains safe by reducing the risk of accidents.

More on Virginia state laws and bicycling

In Virginia a bicyclist is generally expected to operate his or her bike safely and follow applicable regulations. In many cases, the regulations that apply are those that are used for the area the biker is riding. This basically means that if you are riding on a sidewalk you should follow the same rules as if you were a pedestrian, if riding on the road you are expected to follow the same regulations that apply to motor vehicles.

Virginia state law further requires cyclists to follow all traffic signs and signals, come to a full stop at intersections and exercise due care when riding.

Tips to avoid bicycle accidents

There are some proactive steps that cyclists can take to reduce the risk of involvement in a crash. These tips include:

  • Equipment. First, make sure you have the right bike. A bike should fit properly. It is more difficult to control a bike that is too big or too small for your body. The bike should also have proper working brakes. These should be checked before taking your bike out of storage and enjoying that first ride. It is also important to wear a helmet and clothing that will increase your visibility. This can include bright colors and reflectors. If riding in the dark, include lights on your bike.
  • Awareness. Stay alert while biking. Watch for pedestrians and motor vehicles as you navigate through your route. Also, if your route is unfamiliar, take the time to review your directions before heading out.
  • Legalities. As noted above, it is important for bikers to follow the rules of the road. Ride in the same direction as traffic and use hand signals to alert others of an intention to turn. Many jurisdictions also require the use of helmets for certain riders.

Although these steps can reduce the risk of an accident, they are not a guarantee. In the event of an accident between a bicycle and motor vehicle, the cyclist may wish to recover damages from the driver of the vehicle. In order to build a case, the biker would need to establish that the driver was either negligent or reckless in the operation of the vehicle. Various pieces of evidence can be used to meet this requirement, such as evidence of a traffic violation at the time of the accident or eyewitness testimony.

Determining the right type of evidence can be difficult. As such, it is wise for victims of bicycle accidents to seek legal counsel. An experienced bicycle accident lawyer can review the details of your cycling crash and build a case to better ensure a successful outcome.