Passing laws: West Virginia requires that in the event a motor vehicle passes a bicycle it shall leave a safe distance.
Helmet law: West Virginia requires the operator or passenger of a bicycle under the age of 15 years of age wear a helmet. Local ordinances may also enact laws regarding the use of helmets. The failure to wear a helmet shall not be admissible as evidence of negligence or contributory negligence and shall not be admissible in the mitigation of damages.
Laws to Protect the Bicyclist: There are certain laws entitled “vulnerable user laws.” These laws, in essence, require the vehicle least at risk to yield to the vehicle most at risk. For example, a motor vehicle would have to yield to a bicycle and a bicycle would have to yield to a pedestrian. West Virginia does not have any specific vulnerable user laws.
Distracted Driving Laws: As almost every bicyclist knows, distracted driving creates one of the most dangerous risks to a bicycle on a public road way. Every state has varying laws to attempt to reduce the amount of distracted driving that exists. Nonetheless, it still presents a serious problem.
In West Virginia there have been laws passed to attempt to reduce distracted driving by punishing violators. Here is a summary of the present laws:
A. A person may not drive a motor vehicle on a public street or highway while
- using a cell phone, unless being used in a hands-free mode. B. No person who is 18 years or younger and is the holder of a level one permit shall operate a motor vehicle while using a wireless device for any purpose; and C. A holder of a level two intermediate driver’s license who is under the age of 18 years shall not be allowed to use a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle.
Where to ride – Lane Position Laws for a Bicyclist: Generally speaking, West Virginia law requires bicyclists to be as close to the right hand edge of the road as possible and to use due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction.
Sidewalk Riding: There is no law in West Virginia that specifically prohibits or allows the use of bicycles on sidewalks. However, West Virginia requires that whenever there is a usable path for bicycles provided adjacent to a roadway, the bicycle rider shall use such path instead of the roadway.
Riding a Bike under the Influence: In West Virginia bicycles are not defined as vehicles. West Virginia’s law prohibiting driving while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances is written so that it applies to vehicles and therefore does apply to bicyclists.
Stop Sign Laws: In West Virginia bicycles have to follow the same rules as motor vehicles regarding the requirement to come to a complete stop when directed to stop by traffic control devices and West Virginia does not authorize bicyclists to disobey traffic lights that fail to detect bicyclists.
Important Resources and Links