Roanoke, VA. (May 1, 2014) – May is National Bike Month, and this year more cyclists are expected to take to the region’s roads and trails than ever before. With more bicycles taking more trips to more places, the Blue Ridge Transportation Safety Board wants to remind cyclists and drivers alike of a few simple tips that can help keep all road users safe.
“Staying safe while riding is easy,” says Board chairman Howard Hall, Roanoke County’s Chief of Police. “Virginia law makes clear that anyone using our roads is considered a vehicle, whether in a car or on a bicycle, with all the associated rights and responsibilities. Drivers need to remember that a cyclist has every right to ride on the roadways in the Commonwealth, and cyclists need to remember that they need to obey all traffic laws as if they were a motor vehicle. Adhering to this basic rule is the key to sharing the road safely.”
Virginia has very few laws that treat bicycles and motor vehicles differently on the state’s roads. This year, the General Assembly approved a new law requiring drivers to give cyclists at least three feet of distance when passing on the left, an improvement over the previous requirement of two feet. Virginia law also allows cyclist to ride up to two abreast when there is little or no traffic, though cyclist are required to move to single file if a vehicle needs to pass. While cyclists, like drivers, need to obey all traffic signals and signs, they are permitted to ride through a red light if they have waited for one full cycle and have not been offered a green light. This recognizes that some traffic lights are triggered by weight plates in the road that a bicycle will not activate.
“The key to safety is predictability,” says RIDE Solutions Program Director Jeremy Holmes. RIDE Solutions is a regional commuter services agency that promotes bicycle commuting and is a major organizer of Bike Month events. “The best way to be predictable is for everyone – car and bicycle alike – to follow the same laws and for everyone to behave like vehicles on the road.”
Individuals and organizations looking for more information on bike-related laws in Virginia can download a copy of Sharing the Road in Virginia from http://www.novaregion.org/index.aspx?NID=1080, or request a hardcopy from RIDE Solutions by calling (540) 342-9393. For a complete list of Bike Month events, visit www.ridesolutions.org/bikemonth.