Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Bike-related Bills in 2017 VA Legislative Session

Today the 2017 Session of the General Assembly Session convened for a 45-day session. Virginia Bicycling Federation is working with Senators and Delegates on several bills that could impact bicyclists. See the VBF website for the full report. Below is a summary of bills under consideration:

SB 860 Use of handheld personal communications devices while driving; penalty. Would prohibit usage of handheld personal communication devices while driving. Filed by Sen. Surovell.

There are two other bills from Sen. Surovell that do not yet have bill numbers. He is "introducing a 'vulnerable user' bill which creates a lower criminality threshold and higher penalties for drivers who injure pedestrians and cyclists.   Also, in an attempt to address the scourge of vehicles continuing to pass stopped vehicles on Sherwood Hall Lane, I am introducing legislation to make clear that bicycle lanes cannot be used by cars to pass other vehicles.

SB 1207 & HB 2016 Electric personal delivery devices. Identical bills filed by Sen. DeSteph and Del. Villanueva: Allows for the operation of electric personal delivery devices on the sidewalks and shared-use paths and across roadways on crosswalks in the Commonwealth unless otherwise prohibited by a locality. The bill directs that such devices shall not be considered vehicles and are exempt from the motor carrier provisions of Title 46.2 (Motor Vehicles).

HB 1504 Issuance of a driver's license or learner's permit; minimum standards for vision tests; and HB 1514 Health care practitioners; reporting disabilities of drivers. Two bills attempting to get drivers with poor vision off the road that was filed at the request of Dr. Ed Wortham, an ophthalmologist and the father of Carrie Wortham, who was killed in September 2015 by a driver with poor vision who drove into her as she was cycling on Rt. 33. Filed by Del. Fowler.

HB 1834 Distracted driving; penalty. Adds a “Distracted Driving” offense to the section of the Code that prohibits Reckless Driving (46.2-868).  This will add a lesser infraction to the code for infractions that are not as severe as to warrant “Reckless Driving” which has traditionally been considered a very severe charge in this state. Filed by Del. Anderson.

HB 2023 Highway maintenance payments; bicycle lanes. The bill to not reduce highway maintenance payments to municipalities that have implemented road diets. Filed by Del. Villanueva.

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