Bike Safety

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​As an affordable, healthy and convenient alternative to driving, biking in Virginia Beach has been a challenge. But, we're working to improve our network of bikeways so that our city is a safe place to ride. We want to promote a sound culture of bicycling in Virginia Beach, and that goal is achievable if we all do our part in sharing the road. Road safety starts with the mutual understanding that cyclists and motorists have the same rights and responsibilities when it comes to navigating the streets of Virginia Beach. From there, it's all about being courteous, safe and visible.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​2KidsHelmetsBeach_CROP_250pxW.jpgWear a Helmet

Virginia Beach city code requires that children under the age of 14 wear a bicycle helmet at all times while riding. Children in this age group are five times more likely to sustain injuries in a bicycle-related accident than any other age group and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that bike helmets reduce head and brain injuries by up to 88 percent.

Bicycle helmets need to fit properly and be worn on every bike ride. It is best to select a helmet that meets Consumer Product Safety Commission Standards. When purchasing a helmet, look for the commission's label. Helmets should cover your forehead, have adjustable straps, and be the right size for your head. They should fit snugly, without moving from side to side and you shou​ld always buckle the chin strap.

Dress Appropriately

Wear brightly colored clothing to make it as easy as possible for motorists to see you. Loose fitting clothing is also a danger as it can get caught in the bike chain and lead to accidents or injury. Tennis shoes offer the most protection for the feet and provide a good grip on the pedals.

Pay Attention

Most bike accidents result from running into stationary objects, like signs or benches. Keep your eyes on the road at all times in order to ensure you don’t collide with something or fall off your bike. Watch out for large puddles, storm grates, curbs, changes in road height, wet leaves and gravel. Also, be on the lookout for other bikers, strollers, kids and animals. A bell or horn allows you to warn pedestrians that are approaching. You may also verbally warn pedestrians and other cyclists when preparing to pass them.

Ride an Appropriately Sized Bicycle

Appropriate bike size is crucial to a child’s safety. If a bike is too big, it becomes unsafe because the rider is unable to safely and quickly get off the bike. Bikes that are too big are also difficult to control. If the rider is always stretching to reach the handlebars and pedals, it increases the difficulty in maintaining a straight path, and veering becomes a problem. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration recommends straddling the top of the bike with both feet on the ground. There should be a space of 1-2 inches between your body and the top bar of a road bike, and 3 to 4 inches between your body and the top of a mountain bike. The seat should be level and adjusted d so that there is a slight bend at the knee when your legs are extended. The handlebar should be level with the seat.

BikeMaintenance_CROP_250pxW.jpgDon't Neglect Bike Maintenance

Before each ride, check your bike to make sure it is in good working order. Make sure the breaks are working properly, heck for loose parts and confirm that your lights and reflectors are attached and clean. Consider taking it to a bike shop for a tune-up about every six months.

Do Not Listen to Music

Listening to music decreases the ability to be aware of what is going on while biking. Pay attention to road conditions, road debris, parked vehicles and other cyclists.

Avoid Riding at Night/Twilight

Night riding is dangerous because drivers’ vision is diminished. If you must ride at night or twilight, riding, make sure the bike has working reflectors and rear and front lights. Also try to wear reflective tape on clothing, around ankles and on helmets.

Obey Traffic Laws

Bicyclists are expected to obey all traffic laws because they are considered vehicles in most areas. Ride with both hands on the handlebars, stop and check for traffic when pulling onto a street, approaching a curb, or reaching a stop sign. Cross only at intersections. Ride your bike in the same direction as traffic, use bike lanes when possible, obey traffic control devices (red lights, stop signs) and try to ride single file when accompanied by other riders.  

The NHTSA recommends that kids less than 10 years old ride on the sidewalk when allowed by law. Bicycle paths have separate directions and rules, but when these paths intersect with auto roads, rules of the road apply.

BikeBackPack_WEB.jpg​Carrying Items

Carry all items in a backpack and never fill the pack with a weight that influences the rider's balance. Even when bicycles incorporate baskets and side saddle bags, avoid filling these storage containers. The extra weight adds extra braking time and may mean brake failure in an emergency. The weight of these items may shift in an emergency stop or diversion movement, increasing the chance of a crash.

No Handlebar Riding

If an individual is riding on the handlebars, the biker's ability to steer, to avoid road hazards and to see are impaired. Handlebar riding is unsafe for both the child pedaling and the child riding on the handlebars.

Know Where It Is Safe to Ride

Generally speaking, riding on the street with the flow of traffic is safer than riding on the sidewalk for children older than 10. Children younger than 10 years old do not have the same level of maturity or the ability to make safe decisions on the street, so the NHTSA recommends that children under 10 ride on the sidewalk.

Use Hand Signals

Bicycle rides will often require the use of public streets and intersections. Using the appropriate hand signals can help you safely navigate congested areas. Ensure that nearby motorists have clearly seen your signal before attempting to turn.

Left Turn
To signal a left turn, remove your left hand from the corresponding handlebar grip. Extend your left arm out to your side until it's parallel with the ground. Maintain control of the handlebars with your right hand. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends turning your head to make sure you have a clear path before executing the turn.

Right Turn
There are two different ways to signal a right turn. The conventional right turn signal utilizes your left arm. Extend your left hand out to your side until it's parallel with the ground, then bend your elbow to create a 90-degree angle. Point your left hand vertically to complete the safety signal. An second option entails using your right arm by extending it out horizontally from your side to signal a right turn.

Slowing or Stopping
The slowing or stopping signal can be executed with either your left or right hand. Extend your hand out to your side at a 45-degree angle. Rotate the hand so that your palm faces the following motorist or cyclist. Engage the brake lever while keeping your hand extended. Decrease your speed slowly to avoid being rear-ended.

Group Cycling Signals
Group safety signals are designed to alert fellow riders of your next moves and hazards in the riding path. Extend your left arm horizontally out to your side. Bend your elbow at a 45 degree angle. Point your hand downward to inform the group members you are breaking away from the pack by moving to the left. Execute the signal with your right hand when breaking toward the right. To indicate a pothole coming up on the left, extend your arm downward with your palm parallel to the ground. Rotate your hand in a circular motion. Mimic the signal with your right hand to warn against potholes on the right.

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Contact Information

 It's a Two-Way Street

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Give a minimum of two feet.

Motorists and bicyclists can share the road safely when everyone observes all traffic laws. When passing a cyclist on the road, drivers must give at least two feet clearance. Responsible cyclists must also ride with the flow of traffic, using proper hand signals and anticipating the actions of other road users. When riding two abreast, bicyclists cannot impede the movement of traffic, and need to move into single file when being overtaken from the rear.

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Wear the proper gear.

The grim reality is that about 1,000 American bicyclists die in crashes every year, with approximately 75% of those being from head injuries. Children ages 14 and under are five times more likely to sustain bicycle crash-related injuries than any other age group. All bicyclists should wear properly fitted bicycle helmets every time they ride as it is the single most effective way to prevent head injury in the event of a crash. Stay visible too; wear bright colors and use reflective equipment.

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Don't be a bike salmon.

You know how salmon swim upstream to get to a particular destination? Turns out more and more bicyclists follow this example when riding against the flow of traffic. This wrong-way riding behavior endangers everyone - motorists, pedestrians and other cyclists. Let's make the roads safe for everyone by following the rules of the road and going with the flow of traffic.