Friday, January 9, 2015

Virginia bike-related bills in 2015 legislative session

At least three bicycle-related bills are being proposed in the 2015 Virginia legislative session:

HB1342Driver of motor vehicle following too closely; includes non-motor vehicles - Currently it is not illegal for a motorist to tailgate a bicyclist. This bill proposes to change the existing law by removing one word, "motor." It does not make it illegal for bicyclists to ride closely in a paceline. The modified wording is below:
"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."
HB1402Highway maintenance; payments to certain cities and towns - Currently when a road like Lawyers Road is modified from 4 lanes to 2 lanes with 2 bike lanes, known as a "road diet," the state formula for payment of maintenance funds is based on the number of travel lanes. This bill proposes to treat those bike lanes as "moving-lane-miles" for the purposes of calculating maintenance payments. The proposed change is in italics:
"Payments made to affected localities shall be based on the number of moving-lane-miles of highways or portions thereof available to peak-hour traffic in that locality. Moving-lane-miles of highway that are converted to two-way bicycle travel lanes shall continue to be included as moving-lane-miles of highway for purposes of calculating payments under this section."
SB781 - Passing with a double yellow line; drivers allowed to pass a bicyclist - This bill will allow motorists to pass a bicyclist by crossing a double yellow line where it is safe to do so. Motorists would be able to allow 3 feet when passing a bicyclist even though it means crossing the double yellow line. Many motorists currently do this but with passage of the bill that behavior will become legal. Here is the modified text from the bill.
"Wherever a highway is marked with double traffic lines consisting of two immediately adjacent solid yellow lines, no vehicle shall be driven to the left of such lines, except (i) when turning left or (ii) in order to pass a pedestrian, a device moved by human power, a stopped vehicle, or a vehicle moving at less than 25 miles per hour in the same lane, provided such movement can be made safely;"
See VBF's Allen Muchnick's statement for the Manassas-area delegation Public Hearing for the 2015 Legislative Session that was held January 8, 2015. It provides addition information about these bills.

On Saturday the entire Fairfax delegation will hold a hearing starting at 9 a.m. at the Fairfax County Government Center. Cyclists are encouraged to attend that hearing and testify in support of these bills.

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