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Common sense bicycle etiquette and rules

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Bicycles can be great fun. They can be great exercise. There are some important rules because they usually are not great transportation in or near "city" traffic. They are often not even legal on super highways through or near cities.
Many drivers at one time or another over the years have known the disappointment of seeing a bicycle in city traffic. They know it's best to move as far left in their lane as possible and probably slow down considerably to safely pass the bicycle. It can be upsetting as well as time consuming. They might wonder why the bicycle is there and whether the rider is aware what an inconvenience he is causing.
It might help in those situations to realize that the rider is probably not there for fun or exercise, certainly not in city traffic. More likely he is there for transportation of an emergency or otherwise very temporary nature. It might help to take two deep breaths and repeat that when you encounter a bicycle in city streets. He is very likely on his way to or from an auto parts store in order to repair his car later. Meditating on that can help maintain regular blood pressure. Use common sense, if you don't like his being there, remember that he probably doesn't like it any more than you. It might not be entirely his fault that he needs to be there. Fate might exchange your role with his in the future.
Since it is such a rare occurrence it might also help to review the rules from time to time so that they are ready when needed.
Bicycles are considered vehicles and must observe traffic laws such as stopping at stop signs. In most circumstances they are required to move as far right in their lane as possible to allow motorized traffic to pass, however state law lists some exceptions. Code of Virginia §46.2-905 has five of them. The second one might surprise some people. Many people think bicycles should not be on the road anyway and become especially upset when one "takes a lane" like that. A very safe and convenient alternative is available at intersections with lights to control pedestrian traffic. The bicycle rider can dismount and cross as a pedestrian, that is "walk" the bike through the crosswalk area. There are some intersections that have no pedestrian control lights and it can actually be faster and more convenient for everyone if the bicycle rider takes a lane through such a left turn.
Helmets are not legally required in Richmond, but might be required in some other localities, and they are recommended in Richmond.
Richmond does not allow bicycles ridden anywhere at night without a front headlight and a reflector at the back.
Bicycles are legally allowed on sidewalks in Richmond however they must yield to pedestrians there.
While parents can't make the laws less strict than the city and state, they can make them much more strict for their own children, let's not forget.
Recommended reading
Bicycle safety fact sheet
Bicycle & Pedestrian Laws and Safety



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