Passing requires special caution. Bicyclists should watch ahead for vehicles planning to turn right at an intersection or driveway. They should not pass to the right of motorists at intersections, because motorists might turn right and will not see the bicyclist. Bicyclists should avoid the motorist’s blind spot or other position where visibility is limited. Bicyclists should stay in front of or behind vehicles to always remain visible. On a shared-use path, call out or ring a bell and pass on the left.


The law requires that motorists distance themselves at least three feet away from bicyclists as they pass them. Motorists may legally cross the double yellow line in order to safely pass a cyclist, as long as the oncoming lane is clear.

Passing with bike lanes

Motorists should not drive in a bike lane, but may turn across a bike lane after using signals. Bicyclists and motorists must share the road, whether or not bike lanes are provided.

Slow Down to Get Around: Passing emergency and stopped vehicles, mail and trash trucks

slow down to get aroundMotorists need to watch out for stopped emergency vehicles and trash collectors. Waste collection workers are frequently at risk, as they are in our neighborhoods on a daily basis collecting our waste and recyclables. Drivers need to be mindful that when they see a collection vehicle on the road, there often is a worker on the street or near the truck. The Slow Down to Get Around law requires drivers passing stopped collection vehicles to slow down to at least 10 miles per hour below the posted speed limit and provide at least a two-foot cushion between their vehicle and the collection vehicle. Violations are punishable by fines. –Code of Virginia § 46.2-921.1

Opening door into passing traffic

Motorists must be mindful of their surroundings whenever they open their door on the side of passing traffic. It is the responsibility of the motorist to ensure that their door will not obstruct the path of a passing bicyclist.

If a motorist or passenger gets out of a vehicle in line with a cyclist, hitting them with the door, the vehicle is at fault. In March of 2016, Virginia passed a law that levies a fine on drivers who open a vehicle door on the side of passing traffic without confirming that it was “reasonably safe to do so.” –Code of Virginia § 46.2-818.1