Everyone should respect that people who drive, bike, and walk have mutual rights and responsibilities. Awareness of those makes sharing the roads safe and predictable.
Be aware of others using roads, sidewalks, or trails.
Don’t use mobile devices or other distractions while driving, cycling or walking.
Don’t drive, ride, or walk under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
RIGHT OF WAY: In traffic laws, right of way refers to priority to proceed ahead of others.
DRIVERS must respect the rights of pedestrians and cyclists and
yield the right of way to them.
- Stop when yielding to pedestrians and bicyclists who are crossing the road in a crosswalk, especially when turning.
- Stop and do not pass if a car is stopped in a crosswalk or intersection.
- Come to a full stop for pedestrians using a cane or guide dog, as this indicates blindness or vision impairment (Class 3 misdemeanor for failing to stop).
- Especially when turning, watch for and yield to pedestrians and cyclists who are crossing the road in a crosswalk.
- When turning in front of a cyclist, ensure plenty of distance between you to avoid collision.
- Motorists must ensure a minimum of 3 feet when passing cyclists, and may change lanes to ensure space. ($250 fine, section 46.2-113).
- Cyclists and people riding personal assistive mobility devices, motorized scooters and skateboards may legally take the lane and ride two abreast.
BICYCLES are considered vehicles when ridden on streets, and cyclists must abide by the same laws as motorists:
- Obey all traffic signs, signals, lights, and markings.
- Wear a helmet – it reduces the chance of a head injury.
- Look LEFT-RIGHT-LEFT when turning or crossing.
- Travel in the same direction as motorists in the right lane, designated bike lane or shoulder if cycling significantly slower than traffic.
- Avoid road hazards where appropriate and discourage unsafe passing.
- Ride no more than two side-by-side
- Use motor vehicle turn lanes when turning to avoid collisions with vehicles.
- Obey signs that restrict riding on interstate highways and limited access roads
- Call out or ring a bell to alert others when approaching from behind or passing on a sidewalk or path.
- Carry children securely in special seats or trailers and make sure they wear helmets.
- Use white headlamps visible from 500 feet, rear reflectors visible from 600 feet, and a red light when cycling between sunset and sunrise
PEDESTRIANS have rights and responsibilities:
- Watch for other pedestrians as well as cyclists and motorists.
- Be alert to surroundings and listen for motorists and cyclists.
- Use sidewalks, paths or crosswalks wherever possible.
- Look LEFT-RIGHT-LEFT-STRAIGHT when crossing on roads without a sidewalk.
- Walk on the edge or shoulder of the lane facing traffic.
- Obey Walk/Don’t Walk control signals and countdown timers.
- Use caution when crossing, give time for vehicles to stop.
Use mobile devices when crossing the street.
Text and walk. You must be watching in all directions for vehicles and bikes in case you need to move out of the way quickly.
Wear headphones or earbuds in both ears.
Motorists must yield right of way to pedestrians and cyclists and be cautious at intersections and driveways, where collisions often occur. By law, motorists must approach and pass cyclists at a reasonable speed, at least three feet away from cyclists, and may change lanes to achieve this distance.
Motorists must stop and yield right of way to pedestrians. Cyclists may legally ride on sidewalks unless prohibited by local ordinance or traffic control device. When approaching pedestrians, cyclists must slow down, ring a bell or give an audible warning such as “passing on your left” and wait for the pedestrian to move over.
Even though cyclists have the right of way when encountering motorists, when riding on sidewalks, they should slow down to watch for vehicles at intersections and driveways. Motorists’ views are often obstructed by parked cars or other objects.
Although pedestrians have the right of way in all situations, they can help avoid collisions by paying attention to motor vehicle and bicycle traffic. Pedestrians should use eye contact and gestures to ensure they are seen by cyclists and motorists when crossing streets and driveways.
“Motorists must stop and remain stopped until the pedestrian crosses the lane. Drivers approaching or adjacent must not overtake or pass the stopped vehicle” §46.2-924
If you are involved in a crash, follow these steps:
- Check to see if anyone is injured. If so, call 911 immediately and file a police report.
- If you are trained, administer first aid.
- Remove the injured from harm’s way and assist until first responders arrive. NOTE: Severely injured persons should not be moved.
- Anyone who renders emergency care or obstetrical services is exempt from liability, as noted in Virginia’s Good Samaritan law.
- Do not walk, drive or ride away without first receiving medical attention, as injuries may materialize later.
- Individuals who were involved in the crash should provide:
- Name, address, phone number and email address
- Vehicle registration number
- Driver’s license number
- Name of insurance company and policy number
- Document what happened in writing and with photos, including any injuries or damage, as soon as possible.
- Contact your insurance company.
- Save all receipts and repair estimates.
- The Washington Area Bicyclist Association has useful resources: https://waba.org/resources/what-to-do-after-a-crash/
Wherever sidewalks meet the street and where streets intersect, a crosswalk exists, whether painted on the road or not. Crosswalks could be marked mid-block.
Facilities physically separated from motorized vehicular traffic by an open space or barrier. Shared-use paths may be used by bicyclists, pedestrians, skaters, users of wheelchair conveyances, and other non-motorized activities. Always yield to slower users.
That portion of a roadway designated by signs and/or pavement markings for the preferential use of bicycles, electric power-assisted bicycles, motorized skateboards or scooters, and mopeds.
The entire width between the boundary lines of every way or place open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel in the Commonwealth, including streets and alleys.
Leading Pedestrian Interval
A Leading Pedestrian Interval (LPI) is a pedestrian traffic signal that gives people walking a 3–7 second head start when entering an intersection. LPIs enhance the visibility of pedestrians in the intersection and reinforce their right-of-way over turning vehicles, especially in locations with a history of conflict.
A blind spot is the area around a vehicle that cannot be seen by the driver while driving. Drivers of cars, trucks, and buses have blind spots. Motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians need to stay back when possible to ensure their visibility. Watch carefully when vehicles may be turning or stopping.