Thursday, January 7, 2016

Fairfax Co Delegation's Pre-General Assembly Public Hearing Saturday

W&OD Trail at Wiehle Ave
On Saturday, January 9, Fairfax Co VA legislators will hold a public hearing at the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA starting at 9am. This is an opportunity to support two bike bills that we've heard will be introduced this year.

Not passing another vehicle at a crosswalkDel. Kaye Kory plans to submit a bill that will address the situation in which one motorist is stopped for a pedestrian or bicyclist in a multi lane road. A vehicle approaching in the same direction must not pass that stopped vehicle. Del. Kory introduced a similar bill, HB 320, two years ago.

Many crashes occur when one motorist stops, a cyclist proceeds through the intersection, then a second motorist does not stop and hits the cyclist. In 2012 a cyclist was struck while in the crosswalk on Wiehle Ave at the W&OD Trail. There are four southbound lanes and often motorists in one, two, or three lanes will stop but not in the fourth lane, usually the inside turn lane that has a separate green arrow.

In 2013 a cyclist was severely injured when crossing Sunrise Valley Dr at the W&OD Trail when one motorist stopped and the second motorist continued.

Vulnerable road usersSenator Scott Surovell plans to introduce a vulnerable road user bill in which "A person is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor who operates a motor vehicle in a careless or distracted manner and is the proximate cause of serious physical injury of a vulnerable road user." Bicyclists are included in the vulnerable road user category. [Delegate Rip Sullivan will patron this bill in the House.]

We do not yet have bill numbers for these two proposed bills. Click on the link to the sponsor's name to see their sponsored bills, and consider attending the public meeting on Saturday and supporting the bills, or at a minimum, asking Del. Kory and Sen. Surovell about their bills.

Update 8 Jan: We just learned of two other bicycle-related bills being introduced in this session:

HJ55 - House Joint Resolution 55 was introduced by Del. Lingamfelter (R-Fauquier & Prince William Counties). "Requesting the Department of State Police to study the laws and policies governing bicycling on state highways. Report."

Del. Lingamfelter voted agains the Three Foot Passing bill and the Following Too Closely bill.

From the HJ55:
In conducting its study, the Department of State Police shall consider (i) the policies that govern safe bicycling on state highways and how bicycling on highways may be made safer; (ii) whether certain highways should be restricted to bicycling on the basis of hazardous physical characteristics, traffic flow, speed limits, and visibility of bicyclers by motorists; (iii) any safety-related standards bicyclists should observe that are not currently required; (iv) any additional measures motorists should observe that are not currently required; (v) whether additional education requirements for bicyclists and motorists are needed to enhance bicycling safety; and (vi) effective bicycling safety policies in other states.
SB195 - Senate Bill 195 was introduced by Sen. Kenneth Alexander (D-Chesapeake City & Norfolk City). "A BILL to amend and reenact ยง 46.2-1015 of the Code of Virginia, relating to rear lights on bicycles, electric personal assistive mobility devices, electric power-assisted bicycles, and mopeds."

The bill would require all bikes ridden on the highway to have a white front light and a red rear light. Currently rear lights are not required at night unless the speed of the road is 35mph or greater. However, the word "highway" was added to the existing bill which in effect would not require bicyclists to have lights at night if riding on a trail.

We will post updates to these and other bills as we hear about them during the legislative session progresses. Our main source for info during the session is usually Virginia Bicycling Federation folks.

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