Bicycle Laws: A Survey and Comparison of Regulations in Virginia and the Nation

Report No: 98-R34

Published in 1998

About the report:

Legal rules are designed to influence behavior and balance competing needs. This report focuses on an area of state regulation that has received minimal recent attention: the laws that govern the operation of bicycles on public streets and their interaction with motor vehicles. The study provides a comparative analysis of the national model Uniform Vehicle Code and the 50 state codes, with special emphasis on the Code of Virginia. The researcher conducted a state-by-state comparison of ten specific legal issues: 1) carriage of passengers (particularly, of children by parents); 2) riding two abreast; 3) lane position; 4) method of giving turn signals; 5) use of bicycle sidepaths; 6) parental responsibility for children's violations; 7) application of traffic laws on paved shoulders; 8) mandatory safety helmet usage; 9) motor vehicle use of bicycle lanes; and 10) reflector requirements. The issues were chosen in part because they have generated significant variance in legal rules throughout the nation. Each state's rule is presented in tabular form in Appendix A of this report. Appendix B presents a sampling of state definitions of the term bicycle.

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

Barbara A. Scheib

Last updated: December 15, 2023

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