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Bicyclist & Pedestrian Safety

When you compare 2009 to 2010, fatalities and injuries for bicyclists and pedestrians are up.

  • 88 traffic fatalities involving bicyclists and pedestrians, a 5% increase (84 in 2009)
  • 621 injuries involving bicyclists, a 2% increase (607 in 2009)
  • 1,585 pedestrians were injured, a 12% increase (1,402 in 2009)

A single death or injury is one too many.  Increasing knowledge of roadway regulations and safe behaviors may help reduce those numbers.  Laws and responsibilities are designed to keep everyone moving about smoothly and safely.  Here are some of the basic facts.

  1. Motorists are required by law to approach and pass bicyclists at a reasonable speed and allow at least two feet between your vehicle and the bicyclist.  Three feet of safety cushion is even better.
  2. A bicycle is considered a vehicle in Virginia and has the same duties and rights as cars on the road, including obeying all traffic signs, signals, lights, and markings.  A bicycle should always travel in the same direction as motor vehicle traffic.  Bicyclists are not permitted to ride on interstates or other controlled access roadways.  Bicyclists and motorists must yield right of way to pedestrians in marked and unmarked crosswalks.
  3. Motorists are required to use signals to notify other roadway users of intent and cyclists must do the same using hand signals.  Behaving in a predictable manner while driving, biking, or walking can reduce the risk of crashes.
  4. Bicyclists can also protect themselves by wearing a helmet, bright clothing, using flashing lights during day and night, and securing loose pant legs or other loose clothing.  Remember vehicle extensions.  A side mirror or trailer can be deadly for people biking and even the smallest bump can be fatal.
  5. Pedestrians can improve safety by wearing bright colors during the day and reflective material or blinking lights at night.  Light colored clothing is slightly helpful in making you visible at night, reflective tape or reflective fabric is much better.  A side mirror or  trailer can be deadly for pedestrians and even the smallest bump can be fatal.
  6. All road users should be aware of their surroundings, including paying special attention to blind spots where other roadway users may be hidden.  Be aware of "inattention blindness", and use extra caution when road changes are present and in entrances and exits.  Minimize your distractions.  Distracted drivers are more likely to hit bicyclists and pedestrians.
  7. Pedestrians must travel against traffic when walking in the road, use sidewalks whenever available, and use marked crossings whenever possible. Motorists and bicyclists must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, both marked and unmarked, when making a right turn on red, or as instructed by law enforcement or traffic control devices.
  8. Local ordinance determines use of sidewalks by bicycles and other alternative devices. When permitted to be on sidewalks, bicycles should yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and give an audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian.

Remember -  we are all on the road together.  Do not assume ill intent and become frustrated by our fellow bicycling and pedestrian travelers.  Help make it safe for everyone!