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Cycling on a Virginia road

A person riding a bicycle on a highway generally has to follow the same rules and has the same rights as the driver of a motor vehicle.
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    January 22, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Cycling on a Virginia road

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The news was saddening: a 69-year-old from Warrenton was killed recently when a pick-up truck driven by an 18-year-old struck him as he rode his bicycle on a two-lane road in Fauquier County. The gentleman was riding on Route 647 when the pickup struck him from behind. The State Police continue to investigate the circumstances of the accident.

Also sadly, the incident is not an isolated one. According to Virginia Department of Transportation statistics for 2010, 12 bicycle riders were killed that year. There were 641 reported crashes, and 621 cyclists injured. Perhaps surprisingly, the great majority of crashes, almost 80 percent, occurred in the daylight. Failure to yield was commonly cited as a cause of the crash. In a study conducted in Fairfax County over an 18-month period, cyclists who have been involved in crashes have increased to 106 in 2012 from 85 in 2011; in 44 percent of the cases the cyclist was involved in performing an improper action, such as running a stop sign or travelling on the wrong side of the road.

As either a cyclist or the driver of a vehicle, there are some things you should know. A person riding a bicycle on a highway generally has to follow the same rules and has the same rights as the driver of a motor vehicle.

Specifically, a cyclist crossing a highway at a marked crosswalk must come to a complete stop when a stop sign is posted; if no stop sign is posted, the cyclist may proceed without coming to a full stop, but cannot disregard oncoming traffic. Also, if you are riding a bicycle in Manassas or Manassas Park, be advised that wearing a helmet is the law. A bicycle safety policy that has generated significant interest among safety advocates in recent years is a three-foot rule--allowing at least three feet of space between a passing vehicle and a cyclist. Such a rule, endorsed by the American Automobile Association and the League of American Bicyclists is the law in 21 states as of June 2013. It is not however, required by Virginia law. Virginia is also one of only four states that does not impose the rule that requires a driver to "exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian or the operator of a human-powered vehicle." Also, while it is illegal in Virginia to tailgate another motor vehicle, the law does not impose the same rule when it comes to a bicycle. Bills establishing these rules into law have been introduced in the Virginia legislature, but have failed to be enacted.

Anyone involved in a motor vehicle accident involving a bicycle should seek out an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney to carefully evaluate the circumstances of their case.

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