Each year, the Virginia Bicycle Federation watches for bills that might affect bicycling and walking in Virginia, bills that could make it safer and easier or more dangerous and difficult to bicycle and walk. RIDE Solutions reports on the bills that the Virginia Bicycle Federation is watching. This article is for informational purposes; RIDE Solutions neither endorses nor opposes proposed legislation. You can find more information and track these bills at http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/
Today is Crossover. For the lucky few bills that passed the House or the Senate, Crossover is the day they cross over to the other side. For the rest, Crossover is the end. If they haven’t been heard in committee, they won’t be. If they haven’t been scheduled for a floor vote, they won’t be.
A few bills that Virginia Bicycle Federation followed survived Crossover:
HB181, a ban on using handheld devices while driving, passed the Courts of Justice Committee with a strong vote (15-3) but the House re-referred it back to the Courts of Justice, where an amended version passed less strongly (11-6).
Today will tell if it makes it past Crossover. (By the time I finished writing this article, the situation had changed.) After an initial close defeat on the House floor (47 to 53), it was reconsidered and passed (50 to 47).
HJR59, celebrating Transportation Day, passed the House. The resolution does not mention the role of bicycling and walking in Virginia transportation, but activities inspired by the resolution likely will.
SB874, signals required when driving, passed the Senate Transportation Committee (13 to 0) and the Senate floor (40 to 0). It has crossed over to the House Transportation Committee.
Most of the bills the Virginia Bicycle Federation opposed, supported, or neutrally followed either didn’t get scheduled or were voted down in committee. Below is a summary of the fates of these bills.
In the House:
HB59, Practical Design, could mean the elimination of bike/ped projects in important projects as a cost-saving measure. It passed the Transportation Subcommittee #2 but failed in the General Laws Subcommittee #4.
All of the distracted driving bills were either rolled into HB181 or otherwise defeated, including a prohibition on driving with a pet in your lap.
HB308 was well presented by Vivian Watts, but failed nonetheless in House Transportation Subcommittee #1 (6-4).
HB426, regarding vulnerable road users, was never heard in Courts of Justice Subcommittee #1. This is more likely because the committee had more bills than they had time to consider, than because anyone was particularly opposed to it.
HB428 created a minimum speed limit on certain limited access roads, which includes Hershberger Rd and could prohibit bicyclists who have no other options than to use such hostile roads. The sponsor withdrew this bill.
HB464, stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks, failed early in committee along party lines.
In the Senate:
During the first week of the session, Republicans voted against all Democrat-sponsored bills as retribution against something the new Democratic governor said. The bills that fell to this retribution-voting include SB46, stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks, SB74, ban on handheld devices while driving, SB87, careless driving, and SB88, passing on the right in the bike lane.
None of the distracted driving bills that began in the Senate made it. SB97, distracted driving that prohibits driving with a pet in your lap, was never heard in the Transportation Committee. SB275 was defeated in the Courts of Justice. SB600 was carried over to 2019.
SB207, eliminate bike/ped projects from SMART SCALE, was carried over to next year in the Transportation Committee.
SB678, speed cameras, died in Transportation Committee along party lines (6 to 7).
SB919, careless driving, defeated in Transportation Committee.