Richmond is heading in the right direction with respect to becoming safer for bikes and pedestrians. The Richmond area has fantastic off-road trails, but when it comes to on-road connections, drivers and bikers need to learn how to respect each other’s rights. What are some of the common mistakes and assumptions about safe biking?
According to state law, a bicycle is a vehicle when operated on a roadway. Bicyclists and motorists basically have the same rights and duties, and the laws governing traffic regulation apply equally to both. A few safety considerations, summarized from VDOT:
- Bicyclists must obey all traffic signs, signals, lights, and markings.
- Bicyclists must signal their intentions to stop or turn.
- Bicyclists must ride with the flow of traffic on the right side of the highway.
- Bicycles may be ridden 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.
- Bicyclists are not permitted to wear earphones in both ears while riding a bicycle. Several jurisdictions in Virginia require that every person 14 or younger shall wear a protective helmet whenever riding or being carried on a bicycle on any highway, sidewalk, or public bicycle path. The only locality in the Richmond area is Petersburg.
- Every bicycle ridden between sunset and sunrise must have at least one white headlamp with the light being visible at least 500 feet to the front. The bicycle must have a red reflector on the rear visible at least 600 feet to the rear. On roads posted with speed limit of 35 mph or greater, the bicyclist must additionally be equipped with at least one red tail light visible from 500 feet to the rear.