Friday, January 10, 2014

2014 Virginia bicycle legislation

The Virginia legislative session began this week in Richmond. A number of bike-related bills have been introduced. FABB is working with Delegate Comstock, who introduced this year's version of the Following Too Closely bill. She has agreed to modify the bill in committee to ensure that it only applies to motor vehicles, not bicyclists drafting other bicyclists.

HB277 would require motorists to actually stop for pedestrians or bicyclists in a crosswalk instead of simply yielding. HB320 would prohibit a motorist from passing another motorist who is stopped for a pedestrian or bicyclist in a marked or unmarked crosswalk. These could be an important changes for cyclists who use the W&OD Trail, or any other trail where it crosses multiple lanes of traffic. Often one motorist will stop for a cyclist but others will continue to zoom past. That could have been the case on Sunrise Valley Dr in Reston where cyclist Cat Freck was struck last year.

WABA published a summary of Virginia bike bills in Bike Legislation to Watch in the 2014 Virginia and Maryland Sessions. :
Virginia Bills:

HB 82 — Following Too Closely: This bill would require drivers of any vehicle to not follow more closely than is reasonable any other vehicle, including bicyclists.

SB 225 – Dooring Legislation: If this law is enacted, drivers and passengers in Virginia will be legally required to exercise care when opening their car doors with respect to adjacent traffic. Dooring of bicyclists by drivers and passengers can cause serious injury and this bill seeks to reduce the potential of dooring.

SB 97 – Three Foot Passing : Current Virgina law requires drivers to exercise care when passing vehicles, including bicyclists, and to give at least two feet when passing. This bill seeks to extend the passing distance to three feet, in line with D.C. and Maryland law.

HB277 – Pedestrians crossing highways: This bill would clarify the duties of vehicles to stop to allow pedestrians (and bicyclists) to cross highways at marked crosswalks. The full bill language helps to define many ambiguities that exist in current law.

HB320: Reckless driving; passing other vehicles at intersections: This bill seeks to amend the legal reckless driving statute by prohibiting a person from overtaking or passing another vehicle stopped at a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection when a pedestrian (or bicyclist) is present.

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