Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety
The unique geography of Dare County combined with the influx of visitors in the summer seasons creates distinctive challenges for pedestrians, cyclists, and motor vehicles on our roadways. Please keep the road safety tips in mind when riding your bike, walking, or driving on the Outer Banks.
The Outer Banks has a variety of multi-use pathways so you can safely travel throughout Dare County. Consider using these multi-use pathways if you are walking or riding a bike.
Tips for Pedestrians
- Always use crosswalks when crossing the road. When crossing Highway 158 (the bypass), never use the center lane of the highway as a stopping point. With the high volume of traffic, it is very difficult for motorists to see a pedestrian in this location until it is too late.
- Pedestrians crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway. (General Statute 20-174.a)
- Use designated walking paths when possible.
- Wear bright colored clothing and flashers on your body when it is dark outside. The narrow lanes and shoulder on Virginia Dare Trail (often referred to as the beach road) are very dangerous for pedestrians at night. Sand along the shoulder may cause pedestrians to lose footing and step into the roadway. Please be extra cautious and always wear clothing and flashers to ensure visibility at dusk and at night.
- Pedestrians should always travel against traffic.
- Look both ways when crossing the road.
Tips for Cyclists
- Obey all traffic signs and signals. (General Statute 20-158)
- There is no law that requires bicyclists to ride single file, nor is there a law that gives cyclists the right to ride two or more abreast. It is important to ride responsibly and courteously, so that cars may pass safely.
- When riding at night, equip your bicycle with a front lamp visible from 300 feet and a rear reflector or flasher visible from a distance of 200 feet. Lights are required by law from sunset to sunrise and when there is insufficient light to clearly see a person on the highway 400 feet ahead. (General Statute 20-134.e)
- Bicyclists and bicycle passengers under the age of 16 are required by law to wear a helmet securely fastened to their head by straps. The parent or legal guardian of a child under the age of 16 cannot knowingly permit a child to break helmet laws. (General Statute 20-171.7b)
- Bicycles are not required to ride on adjacent bicycle paths. When riding on the roadway, a bicyclist must ride in the same direction as traffic. They must ride in the right-hand lane and should ride as close as practicable to the right-hand edge of the highway. (General Statute 20-146a) Exceptions to this law are provided when the bicyclists are making the following maneuvers:
- Passing another vehicle moving in the same direction (General Statute 20-146a.1)
- Avoiding a dangerous obstruction (General Statute 20-146a.2)
- Riding on a one-way street (General Statute 20-146a.4)
- Preparing for a left turn. (General Statute 20-146e)
- Bicyclists must yield the right-of-way and avoid colliding with pedestrians who are walking on a roadway, sidewalk, walkway, or in a crosswalk. Also, bicyclists should not pass a vehicle that is stopped at a crosswalk to permit a pedestrian to cross the highway. (General Statute 20-173 and General Statute 20-174)
- There is no law that prohibits wearing headphones when riding a bicycle; however, it is not recommended. It is important to use all your senses to ensure your safety when riding in traffic.
Tips for Motorists
- Bicycles are not required to ride on adjacent bicycle paths. Please share the road.
- When traffic-control signals are not in place vehicle drivers shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians crossing the roadway within a marked crosswalk. (General Statute 20-173.a)
- In the summertime, Virginia Dare Trail ("the beach road") is very busy with pedestrian traffic. The Town of Duck and the Town of Nags Head provide walkways for pedestrian traffic. In all other areas, please exercise extreme caution. You must yield to all pedestrians crossing at designated crosswalks.