• Always good to review state laws related to bicycling. 
  • Know what is expected of you and of the motorists around you. 

One of FABB’s primary goals is to help educate riders, motorists, and police about Virginia bicycling laws. We were disappointed that the Fairfax County Police Department bike/ped safety event in Reston had to be postponed last Saturday. But, while we wait for it to be rescheduled, we want to take this opportunity to review the state code. Here are some of the most important laws all riders should know:

Passing (3 Feet Law)

Motorists must approach and pass a bicyclist at a reasonable speed at least three feet to the left of the bicyclist and shall not again proceed back to the right side of the highway until safely clear of such overtaken bicycle. Reference: §§ 46.2-839, 46.2-907

Opening and Closing Motor Vehicle Doors

Effective July 1, 2016, no motor vehicle operator shall open the door of a parked motor vehicle on the side adjacent to moving vehicular traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so. Reference: § 46.2-818.1

Traffic Signs and Signals (Long Stop Lights)

Bicyclists must obey all traffic signs, signals, lights, and markings, except bicyclists may proceed through a solid red light at an intersection if the rider complies with all five of these provisions:

  1. Comes to a full and complete stop at the intersection for two complete cycles of the traffic light or for two minutes, whichever is shorter
  2. Exercises due care as provided by law
  3. Otherwise treats the traffic control device as a stop sign
  4. Determines that it is safe to proceed
  5. Yields the right of way to the driver of any vehicle approaching on such other highway from either direction. Reference: §§ 46.2-830, 46.2-833

Changing Directions and Turning

Bicyclists must signal their intentions to stop or turn.

  • A right turn may be signaled with the right arm. The signals do not have to be given continuously if both hands are needed to control the bicycle.
  • Bicyclists may make left turns as either motorists or pedestrians do. To make a pedestrian left turn, the bicyclist should continue straight across the intersecting road, obey the traffic signals, turn left at the corner, and proceed as usual.
  • Bicyclists have the option of either riding or dismounting and walking in the crosswalks of the two intersecting roads. If traffic control devices specify the method of crossings, these directions must be followed. Reference: §§ 46.2-846, 46.2-847, 46.2-848, 46.2-849.


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