Bicycling is an excellent option all year round in Virginia. It provides good exercise and allows commuters to get from one location to another.

Just like any other travel-based hobby, it is important to know the rules of the road to help ensure everyone’s safety. One such rule to keep in mind is Virginia’s law regarding helmet use. Motorcyclists and their passengers must wear a helmet unless traveling at less than 15 mph or in a parade, but what about bicyclists?

Rules for young riders vary

Virginia code allows the governing body of any county, city or town to require any bicyclist or bicycle passenger who is 14 years or younger to wear a helmet while on a highway, sidewalk or public bike path. Manassas, Manassas Park and Fairfax are among the cities who have adopted this requirement.

No requirement for older riders

For riders over 14 years, there is no law requiring helmet use on a bicycle. Virginia establishes other safety rules, but helmet use is not among them. The safety rules the state does impose are:

  • Bicyclists cannot carry anything that prevents them from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars
  • Bicycles cannot carry more people than designed to accommodate, except for adults carrying a child under six years in a securely attached seat or trailer made for children
  • Bicyclists cannot attach themselves or their bicycles to any other vehicle on the roadway
  • Bicyclists cannot wear earphones in both ears while operating a bicycle

Stay safe and have fun

While helmet use is not a requirement, it is often the only thing protecting a bicyclist in the event of an accident when sharing the road with motor vehicles. It may not be legally required, but it is a useful defense against aggressive drivers.