As a Virginia Bicyclist, you must understand what Virginia bicycle law requires of you and of the people that are driving motor vehicles on the road with you. My hope is that by understanding these rules, you will be safer on the roads and significantly decrease the odds that you will be in an accident.
The Code of Virginia can be difficult to read, and many of the laws involving bicycles include language for other types of vehicles. I have tried to take out all of the legalese and language that does not apply to bicyclists so that the laws applying to cyclists can be quickly read and understood.
A bicyclist in Virginia has all of the rights and duties applicable to the driver of a motor vehicle and is subject to the provision of the Code of Virginia sections on motor vehicles, unless the context of the provision clearly indicates otherwise.
The following Virginia code sections apply to bicycles and bicycle equipment and regulations regarding their appropriate use.
If you ride between sunset and sunrise, you must have a have white light on the front of your bike. The law requires that this white light be visible from 500 feet in clear weather.
If you ride between sunset and sunrise you must have a red reflector on the rear of your bike. The reflector must be visible from 600 feet to a car with low beams on.
If you ride between sunset and sunrise, on a highway with a speed limit of 35 mph or greater you must have bicycle taillight emitting a red light plainly visible from a distance of 500 feet.
When operating on a highway your bike must have a brake that will allow you to make your braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.
Virginia law does not require cyclists to wear a helmet. A county, city or town can pass an ordinance to require children 14 years and younger to wear a helmet.
(I put helmets in the DO column even though the Virginia Code does not require them. You should absolutely wear a helmet when riding a bike, law or no law.)
When riding your bike on a highway, you are not allowed to have an earphone in or on both ears.
You may not ride with a package or article that prevents you from having a least one hand on the handlebars.
You should not carry a passenger if the bike was not designed for a passenger with the exception of adult riders who may carry a child 6 years old or less if the child is securely attached in a seat or trailer designed to carry children.