Safe Travel for Virginia's Non-motorized Road Users: A Comprehensive Review of Pedestrian and Bicycle Laws in Virginia and the United States

Report No: 08-R5

Published in 2007

About the report:

This study involved conducting a comprehensive review of Virginia's laws regarding the status, rights, and responsibilities of pedestrians and other non-motorized users of Virginia's transportation network and comparing them with the status, rights, and responsibilities of motorists. The analysis of Virginia's pedestrian-related statutes and their comparison with those of other states and the Uniform Vehicle Code revealed a number of areas where the Code of Virginia is unclear as to the rights and responsibilities of pedestrians and motorists. For example, pedestrians are directed to use crosswalks and intersections only "wherever possible," which is a vague standard. The Code also contains several pedestrian-related provisions where the language is ambiguous, and there are also provisions in the Code that potentially conflict with one another. In addition, the Code is silent in a number of areas that could increase pedestrian safety, such as a due care requirement, a requirement that pedestrians obey the directions of law enforcement officers, and a requirement that pedestrians yield the right of way to emergency vehicles. Bicycles were used as a proxy for "other non-motorized users" because Virginia laws governing bicyclists frequently govern individuals using electric personal assistive mobility devices, electric power-assisted bicycles, roller skates, skateboards, or mopeds (e.g., sections 46.2-800, 46.2-904, and 46.2-905 of the Code of Virginia). However, Virginia's bicycle laws were updated relatively recently by the General Assembly and were found to be generally clear and in harmony with those in the majority of other states.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


Other Authors

S. Emily Hartman, Heath Roettig, Cheryl W. Lynn, Young-Jun Kweon, Ph.D., P.E.

Last updated: November 24, 2023

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