Thursday, February 18, 2010

Three foot passing bill fails in House (again)

There was one last chance for the Virginia House to pass a three foot passing bill. Even though the House version of the bill, HB1068, was defeated, the Senate version, SB566, passed in the Senate by a vote of 40-0. When SB566 moved to the House, it was tabled yesterday by House Transportation Subcommittee 2, effectively killing it. Delegate Rust of Herndon voted to table it.

See the VBF account of the vote, which included statements unrelated to the bill, about scofflaw cyclists:
Del. Oder from Newport News (who had supported 1048) recounted an incident on his way to church with his wife last Sunday where he observed two cyclists passing too close to his stopped car and then running a red light, and asked if this behavior was legal, to which I replied "absolutely not". He had some other comments about what apparently is a large, peloton-like, ride that he sees regularly on Sunday mornings in his area, and questioning me as to whether this riding behavior is proper. He concluded by stating that perhaps we should put in some bills with specific penalties for bicyclist misbehavior.

Del. Rust, from Herndon & the W & OD Trail area, then took his turn and recounted the publicized incident last spring where, on their MS Ride, a number of riders were ticketed for running a Stop sign, but the charges were dismissed in court.

Finally, Chairman Carrico, the retired State policeman, stated as he has consistently , that none of these passing distances are enforceable; and that this is an "Educational Problem". He then called Linwood Buckner (the Legislative Affairs representative from DMV) forward and strongly requested that Linwood "work with the bicycling folks to improve the way the bicycling rules are presented in the DMV materials and driver's exam". Linwood agreed to do so, and we will meet after the conclusion of this legislative session, so we may yet get some benefit from all of this. All that having been said, the bill was promptly Tabled.
The only good that will come out of this process is the possibility of updating "DMV materials and driver's exam."

See VBF's post Three Feet to Pass—Why Such Resistance? for a thorough discussion some objections raised to passage of the bill and responses to those objections. Thanks to VBF for doing a great job of tracking this and other legislation and for getting the word out to advocates around the state.

In the meantime, we'll have to settle for the 3 Fee Please jersey (photo above).

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