Bicycling safely, or not at all

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, gyms and fitness centers throughout the country have closed, or are operating at a limited capacity. This has forced gym-goers to find other ways to exercise. Some have opted to hit the streets for a bike ride.

bicyclist at sunset

Biking is a great way to remain physically active, but biking on the street is a lot more dangerous than riding a stationary bike at the gym. In 2018, there were over 850 cycling-related deaths in the United States. For the sake of safety, all bicyclists should know the laws and best practices.

Basic Legal Responsibility of Cyclists

Bicyclists are required to follow the same laws as drivers in a motor vehicle, unless there’s a specific law to the contrary. Va. Code 46.2-800 states that bicyclists are required to obey all traffic laws, which include riding on the right side of the road, stopping at stop signs, stopping at red lights, etc.

In addition, bicyclists must ride as close as possible to the right edge or curb of the road, within a safe distance, according to Va. Code 46.2-846. If a bicyclist wants to make a turn they must make a signal clearly visible to others. This signal can be given with their hand and arm or with an electrical or mechanical device, per Va. Code 46.2-849.

vintage bicycle at vintage store

Safety Tips for Cyclists

  1. Bicyclists should try to be as visible as possible to drivers, especially riders who like to ride early or ride at dusk. Wearing bright colors and reflective clothing can help. Also, having flashing lights on your front and rear tires can make you more visible to others.
  2. Ride with a group. It’s much easier for a driver to see a group of bicyclists.
  3. Ride defensively by anticipating that drivers do not see you and will not obey traffic controls. One way to accomplish this is by making eye contact with drivers. If you do not make eye contact, you should wait and make sure conditions are safe before proceeding, just as a pedestrian would. As a bicyclist, you can do everything you are legally required to do, but still end up being on the worse end of a collision.
  4. Many people like to ride their bicycles while listening to music or podcasts with earphones, as it is their time to “escape” from the stresses of their day. This can be dangerous, because hearing is your second most important sense to help avoid a collision. In addition, it is against the law in Virginia to ride a bicycle with earphones, per Va. Code 46.2-1078.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of a driver, the attorneys at Allen & Allen are here to help. Call us today, at 1-866-388-1307.