Friday, November 25, 2016

Virginia No. 1 Bicycle Friendly State in the South

The League of American Bicyclists (LAB) has released its report card and rankings of states as being bicycling friendly, and Virginia came in as #13 nationally and #1 in the southern region. Virginia scored better during the past year in the areas of education, encouragement, infrastructure, and funding. It also scores well in policies and programs but suffered a lower score for legislation and enforcement. 

According to LAB, among the signs of Virginia’s success in improving its rank as a bicycling friendly state are recent increases in dedicated state funding and the passage of a safe passing law.  The Commonwealth previously had been recognized for having a state bicycle plan, active bicycle advocacy, a complete streets policy, and a share the road campaign. To improve its national standing, Virginia needs to take several steps to get 1% or more of its citizens commuting by bike, including: 

  • Update laws that discourage road diets and bicycle lanes in urban areas.
  • Adopt a law prohibiting a motorist from opening an automobile’s door unless able to do so safely (Virginia is one of only ten states lacking this type of “dooring” law.)
  • Dedicate state funding for bicycle projects and programs, especially those focused on safety, eliminating gaps, and increasing access for bicycle networks. 
  • Adopt a vulnerable road use law that increases penalties for a motorist who injures or kills a bicyclist or pedestrian.
  • Add bicycle safety as an emphasis area in the state Strategic Highway Safety Plan and aggressively fund bike safety projects. 

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