Sunday, June 8, 2014

In WV, honk before passing

According to the article New law aims to make bicycle riders safer, in West Virginia, motorists must now honk before passing a bicyclist. How would you like it if every motorist who passed you honked just before passing? The law also requires that bicyclists traveling "less than the normal speed of traffic...shall ride in the lane marked for bicycle use." There are many situations in which riding in a poorly designed bike lane can be dangerous. The good news is that WV now has a three-foot passing bill.
Bicycling for fun and transportation is becoming more common, so a new law now requires West Virginia’s drivers to give bicycles some extra room on the roads.

The Bicycle Safety Bill (HB-4304) requires bicycles to generally travel in bicycle lanes or as close as practical to the right edge of the roadway. This new law also requires drivers to give bicycle riders an audible signal when passing. Drivers must also pass on the left at a distance of not less than three feet.

Local bicycle riders attending an inaugural bike run sponsored by the Bluefield, W.Va. Rotary Club welcomed the new law. Peter Romano, who organized Saturday’s event, said the law was good. More bicycle lanes would be welcome. College Avenue in Bluefield, for instance, could be wide enough for a bicycle lane, he added.

Update: The existing law requires motorists to honk when passing another vehicle, but it does not appear that a bicycle is a vehicle, so it may not be the case that motorists must honk before passing a bicyclist.

Here's another article on the new law in the article New W.Va. law reflects strong bicycle culture.

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I think the article summarizes the bill incorrectly. It doesn't require drivers to give bicycle riders an audible signal when passing. See my comment here for an explanation.

It does appear that bicycles are not considered vehicles in WV Code. From the definition of a vehicle: "(a) Vehicle. -- Every device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a public highway, excepting devices moved by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks;"

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