September 29, 2015- Richmond, VA
A bicyclist was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries Monday night, after being struck by a car at the intersection of W. Broad St. and Sundance Way.
According to NBC12 News, the accident happened at 8:20 p.m. in the left lane and the cyclist didn’t appear to have proper lights on his bike. The driver of the car was not hurt in the crash.
In a single-vehicle accident involving a bicycle, fault is usually attributed to the driver of the motor vehicle, rather than the bicyclist. However, while bicyclists may be afforded more flexibility on the road than other drivers, Virginia law clearly regulates the use of bicycles on public roadways.
For example, bicyclists who ride at night (i.e. between sunset and sunrise) must have at least one white headlamp on the front of their bike, visible from at least 500 feet, and one red reflector on the rear of their bike, visible from at least 600 feet. Night-time rides on roads with speed limit of 35 mph or greater further requires that bicyclists also be equipped with at least one red taillight visible from 500 feet to the rear.
Additionally, bicyclists are required by law to ride with the flow of traffic on the right side of the highway.
In this situation, the bicyclist’s apparent failure to obey these two laws may preclude him or her from seeking personal injury damages from the driver of the vehicle, and may have even opened up the bicyclist to civil and/or criminal liability.
Bicyclists in Virginia should also be aware of the following legal expectations and/or responsibilities:
- While crossing highways at clearly marked crosswalks, bicyclists must come to a complete stop at stop signs prior to entering said crosswalk.
- While crossing highways in in marked crosswalks without stop signs or other traffic control signals, bicyclists are not required to come to a full stop, but must not enter the road in disregard of oncoming traffic.
- Bicyclists cannot ride between two lanes of traffic moving in the same direction unless one lane is a separate or mandatory turn lane.
- Bicyclists cannot wear earphones in both ears while riding.
Bicyclists are permitted to proceed through a solid red light at an intersection, but only if the rider complies with the following:
- The bicyclist must come to a full and complete stop at the intersection for two complete cycles of the traffic light or for two minutes, whichever is shorter.
- The bicyclist must exercise due car as required by law.
- The bicyclist must otherwise treat the traffic control device as a stop sign.
- The bicyclist must determine that it is safe to proceed.
- The bicyclist must yield the right or way to the driver of any vehicle approaching from either direction.
The Virginia Department of Transportation recommends the following Tips for Safe Bicycling:
- Be a responsible bicyclist – obey all traffic control devices and use proper hand signals.
- Always ride with the flow of traffic.
- Dress safely – wear a helmet, wear bright colored clothing, and secure loose pant legs.
- Ride defensively – anticipate the actions of other road users and watch for road hazards.
- Pass vehicles with extreme care – turning vehicles may not see you.
- Be aware of motor vehicle blind spots whether while riding or when stopped at an intersection.
- Maximize your visibility at night – wear reflective clothing and apply reflective tape to your bicycle.
- Walk your bicycle when you get into traffic situations beyond your cycling abilities.
- Exercise great caution when riding in bus traffic – watch out for buses pulling to and from curbs and passengers getting on and off buses.
- Park your bicycle so you do not block sidewalks, handicap and building accesses, or emergency drives.
- Lock your bicycle – secure both wheels and the frame to a stationary object using a sturdy lock.
- Register or license your bicycle if required or provided by your community.