Monday, January 14, 2013

Contact Del. Comstock to support "Following too closely" bill.

Del. Alfonso Lopez, who represents the Seven Corners and Baileys Crossroads area in Fairfax County, has introduced HB 1950, Following too closely. The bill states that motorists shall not follow other vehicles, including bicycles, too closely. The bill will come before the 7-member House Transportation Subcommittee on Wednesday.

Del. Barbara Comstock is the only Fairfax member on that committee. She voted against an identical bill last year. Please contact Del. Comstock804-698-1034, to ask her to support this bill. Some members of FABB discussed this issue with her at a recent town hall meeting and we hope she will support the bill this year. Your message to her could help get this bill passed.

Virginia is the only state that does not have a law protecting bicyclists from motorists following too closely. The bill deletes the second occurrence of the word "motor" from the existing bill:
§ 46.2-816. Following too closely. The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard to the speed of both vehicles and the traffic on, and conditions of, the highway at the time."
This would not prevent a cyclist from riding closely behind another cyclist in the common practice of drafting, as it only applies to drivers of "motor" vehicles.

For more information on this bill read Following too closely talking points written by Allen Muchnick of Virginia Bicycling Federation from last year's session. HB 1950 contains the same wording.

See also the recent alert sent out by WABA:
The 2013 session of the Virginia General Assembly is now underway and is scheduled to conclude on February 23.

HB 1950 (Lopez), which would prohibit motorists from rear-ending bicyclists (i.e., following bicyclists "more closely than is reasonable and prudent"), may be heard by a 7-member House Transportation Subcommittee as early as 7 AM this Wednesday, January 16.

Virginia is the only state that does not prohibit motorists from following bicyclists too closely, yet this simple and common-sense legislation has repeatedly been defeated by close subcommittee votes in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Northern Virginia has three representatives on the 7-member subcommittee that will soon hear HB 1950:

1) Delegate Barbara Comstock (R-34th District, McLean), 804-698-1034,
2) Delegate Rich Anderson (R-51st District, Woodbridge), 804-698-1051,
3) Delegate Randy Minchew (R-10th District, Leesburg), 804-698-1010,

Please email and/or call the Richmond offices of these legislators to respectfully ask, as your representatives on this subcommittee, that they support HB 1950 to better protect bicyclists from rear-end collisions. Reportedly, of the 10 bicyclists killed in Virginia traffic crashes in 2012, 8 had been rear-ended by motorists.

You can also identify and contact your state legislators from the Who’s My Legislator page.  

Thank you for taking action to make bicycling safer in Virginia.

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