By Bev Davis
When it comes to the law, rules for bicycle riders are similar to those for motorcyclists and motorists.
“The rules of the road apply. All riders are subject to all the duties applicable to motorists,” said Joe Tyree, coordinator of motorcycle safety for the Governor’s Highway Safety Department.
An avid bicycle rider himself, Tyree said tolerance is the key word for motorists and cyclists.
“By law, we can all share the road out there, and motorists and cyclists need to have tolerance for one another and respect for one another. We can share the road safely,” Tyree said.
A complete listing of specific rules for cyclists can be found in Section 17C-11-1 of the West Virginia Code.
Some of the most notable are:
- No more than one rider per bicycle on bikes without a permanent seat for a second rider.
- No person riding a bicycle, coaster, roller skates, sled or toy vehicle shall attach the same or himself to any street car or vehicle on a roadway.
- Riders cannot ride more than two abreast, except on paths or parts of roadways designed exclusively for the use of bicycles.
- When a designated bicycle path has been provided adjacent to a roadway, bicycle riders shall use the path and not the roadway.
- No person operating a bicycle shall carry any package, bundle or article that prevents the driver from keeping at least one hand upon the handle bars.
- Every bicycle when in use at night time shall be equipped with a lamp upon the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the department which shall be visible from all distances from 50 feet to 300 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle.
- No person shall operate a bicycle unless it is equipped with a bell or other device capable of giving a signal audible for a distance of at least 100 feet, except that a bicycle shall not be equipped with, nor shall any person use upon a bicycle any siren or whistle.
- It is unlawful for any person under 15 years of age to operate or be a passenger on a bicycle or any attachment to a bicycle used on a public roadway without a helmet of good fit, fastened securely upon the head with the straps of the helmet.
- It is unlawful for any parent or legal guardian of a person under 15 years of age to knowingly permit such person to operate or be a passenger on a bicycle or attachment thereof.
According to the Child Bicycle Safety Act, head injuries are the leading cause of death from bicycling injuries. The risk of head injury is significantly reduced for bicyclists who wear proper protective bicycle helmets.
The complete code of bicycle laws is listed at http://www.massbike.org/bikelaw/wva.htm.