HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - The Henrico Police Department is trying to educate the public on the rules of the road for drivers and bicyclists before stepping up enforcement efforts.
Things like wearing a helmet, making sure it fits properly and paying attention might seem like simple rules to remember. But, Henrico Police say the best way to stay safe when taking to the roads is to ride your bike the way you drive your car.
The concept is pretty straightforward but not necessarily widely known. When you ride your bike on Virginia roads, you have the same rights as drivers. On the flip side, you also have the same responsibilities. Kimberly Perry is the Executive Director of Bike Walk Virginia.
"I think a lot of people believe they have some type of freedom to disobey traffic laws and that's an unfortunate situation. The traffic laws are designed to keep everyone safe on the roadways," said Perry.
Henrico police have just released a new educational campaign to help drivers and cyclists understand these laws. The campaign is, in part, a response to the county's latest fatal accident.
On July fourth, a cyclist rode through a red light and was hit by a car that had a green light. That man later died. C.J. Congrove has been riding a bike since he was a kid. He says the holiday weekend accident, while tragic, doesn't help the volatile relationship between drivers and bikers.
"I think that's why people are a bit upset with cyclists on the road is that 18 often times they'll see them running red lights, running stop signs, maybe not doing all the things they should," said C.J. Congrove of Conte's Bicycles and Fitness Equipment.
But it's not just attitude, cyclists have to deal with. Sergeant A.J. Gordon heads Henrico's Traffic Safety Unit.
"The driver of the car can be charged for reckless driving or whatever the appropriate charge would be and if the bicycles are not riding properly they could also receive a summons for not obeying the laws that they're required to obey," Gordon said.
If you're on a bike and you do get pulled over, you'll receive the same form drivers get with the same penalties: $100 for failure to obey a traffic light, $30 for not stopping at a stop sign. That's on top of court fees.
"There's a lot of people that don't follow every rule when they're on a bike and if it's enforced more, they're gonna follow it more," said Congrove.
Cyclists and drivers can pick up this safety brochure at Henrico Police headquarters. You can also pick up a copy of the state statutes with the rules you need to obey.