Richmond is taking strides to reduce the number of cars on the road through projects such as the GRTC Pulse and an increase in bike lanes. There are more than 25 miles of bike lanes in the city and as more bicyclists take to the streets, Richmond police are monitoring both motorcycles and bicycles.
While riding a bike to work might seem like a more economical and eco-friendly option, bicyclists are not immune to traffic tickets.
Virginia code states bicycles are considered vehicles when driven on roads and are therefore subject to tickets for disobeying any traffic laws. As a bicyclist myself, I often think more like a pedestrian than a motorist, but the police officer who gave me an $85 ticket for riding my bike with both headphones in informed me that is not the case.
However, I am not using this as a platform to complain about my ticket. I want to warn my fellow students that this can happen to you, too. Many of these infractions are considered moving violations, which can affect your car insurance.
At first, this ticket seemed like a wild abuse of power; but upon further reflection I recognize the true injustice was my lack of education on the law.
According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, a bicyclist can be ticketed for biking in the left lane when cars are present. Bicyclists are also expected to stop at stop signs and red lights. When stopped at a red light, bicyclists must either wait until the light turns green or wait at the red light for two minutes before crossing an intersection. When riding in a bike lane, bicyclists must follow pedestrian crossing signals.
Sidewalks and bike lanes are the best places to avoid tickets. And when turning, don’t forget to use your hands and arms to signal. When turning right or changing lanes, extend your right arm, and when turning left or moving into the left lane, extend your left arm.
Lastly, all bicyclists must have at least one head lamp when biking at night.
A report from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles revealed there were nearly 700 bicycle crashes in 2017; almost all of them resulted in injury, and 14 were fatal.
These laws are put in place to help bikers stay safe. But I had driver’s ed in high school, not biker’s ed. It is important that bicyclists are educated on the rules of the road because no one wants to receive the same $85 ticket I did.
These simple actions can save you from the same major inconvenience I suffered. So bikers, watch out for police this semester. And pedestrians, please get out of the road.