• Gregory Sandler

STAY SAFE BICYCLING IN VIRGINIA: KNOW THE LAW


Two bicyclist fatalities have occurred this year in Virginia Beach.

The first occurred in May, when the cyclist crossed four lanes of traffic on Virginia Beach Boulevard and was hit by a Grand Prix. Then, in July, a second fatality occurred when a cyclist was hit after falling off his bike on South Independence Boulevard. Both serve as sober reminders of the importance of bicycle safety and driver awareness.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that there were 743 bicyclist fatalities in 2013; eight occurred in Virginia. The majority of fatalities occurred between 3:00 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. in urban areas. In addition, the NHTSA estimates that over 48,000 bicyclists were injured during that same period.

The NHTSA’s Tips for Safer Summer Bicycling and the Virginia Department of Transportation’s State Bicycle and Pedestrian Program provide insight on steps both cyclists and drivers can take to avoid bicycle crashes.

Cyclist safety tips include those relating to the bicycle and those relating to the location of the ride:

  • Do not drink alcohol before riding;

  • Do not engage in distracted behavior, such as using your cell phone or listening to music;

  • Choose safer locations, when possible (side, narrow, or slow speed streets);

  • Ride in the same direction as traffic; this is probably the most misunderstood requirement of safe cycling.

  • Wear high visibility clothing and make use of reflectors and lights, even during the day; and

  • Use proper hand signals.

As many of you know, I represent a large number of bikers, both on motorcycles and on bicycles. The dynamic of crashes involving those of us on two wheels is the same whether it is motorized or not. People in cars simply do not mentally register the linear vision of a cyclist or biker coming at them. They are used to seeing the “flat” front of a car, and their brains do not register the oncoming bike. For that reason, alone, we on two wheels MUST BE VIGILANT to avoid being invisible.

Keeping pedestrians and bicyclists safe will require significant changes by drivers when bicyclists are present:

  • Drive slowly and predictably;

  • Keep a watch for all road users;

  • Signal your intentions to turn; and

  • Yield to bicyclists as if they were cars.

The importance of driver and cyclist safety cannot be overstated. It requires a partnership between users of the road, both drivers and cyclists, to do their respective parts in improving safety. One significant step that both can take is not drinking while driving or riding. NHTSA statistics reported that alcohol was involved in more than 34% of bicyclist fatalities.

Too often, motorcycle and bicycle riders are not seen by the traffic around them. If this has happened to you, don’t delay. Call The Sandler Law Group toll free 800-9-THE-LAW or (757) 627-8900 to schedule an initial FREE consultation. You may also contact us online at www.sandlerlaw.net or by email at GSandler@Sandlerlaw.net.

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