Author: Attorney J. David Douthit
Obey traffic laws. While being operated on public roads in Virginia, bicycles are subject to many of the same traffic regulations that apply to motorists. See Code of Virginia sections 46.2-100 and 46.2-800. There are some exceptions to this general rule. For example, while it would constitute reckless driving for two cars to be driven abreast in a single lane, this would not apply to a car passing a bicycle in a single lane. See Code of Virginia 46.2-907.
Wear a helmet.
There is no state-wide law in Virginia mandating helmet use; the General Assembly has allowed localities to make their own rules. Many cities and counties -- though not all -- require riders under the age of 14 to wear helmets. As a matter of common sense safety, all riders should wear a helmet while riding. Be certain prior to beginning to ride that your helmet fits correctly.
Maintain your bike.
If you haven't ridden your bike for an extended period, take it to your local bike shop for a tune up. Coming down a hill is not the place to discover that your brakes are not properly adjusted.
A bicyclist is required to give a signal, "plainly visible" to other drivers, prior to turning or stopping. See Code of Virginia 46.2-848. Be sure you signal clearly and well in advance, so other drivers know your intentions.
Want to ride double? Get a tandem. Carrying more people that a bicycle was designed for (typically one) is prohibited by Code of Virginia 46.2-906. There is an exception to this rule for an adult rider carrying a child under the age of six in a child seat or a trailer.
Bicycle riding is wonderful exercise and an enjoyable experience, but remember to follow the law and ride safely.