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/
HB181, a distracted driving bill that bans handheld devices, passed the Courts of Justice (15-3) and is headed for the House floor. With strong support in the Courts of Justice, the outlook is good.
HB181: Provides that any person who drives a vehicle on any highway (i) in a negligent manner but does not endanger the life, limb, or property of another or (ii) while using a handheld personal communications device where such use substantially diverts the driver’s attention from the operation of the vehicle is guilty of improper driving.
Many of the distracted driving bills filed in the House were rolled into HB181. HB181 has a Republican sponsor and bipartisan support, an increasingly rare commodity.
HB59, Practical Design, allows for maximum flexibility in the application of standards to reduce projects costs, which is likely to mean eliminating bike/ped elements from projects. Missouri, a state that has a similar Practical Design law, reports that after public input, highway projects lose their most popular features, including bike/ped elements, to the Practical Design fiscal knife. This is false economy since bike/ped infrastructure has more impact for less expense than road infrastructure. HB59 passed Transportation Subcommittee #2 and has been assigned to General Laws Committee.
HB428 which would impose a minimum 45 mph speed limit on limited access highways regardless of context, such as Hershberger Road, passed Transportation Subcommittee #3 but was then withdrawn at the request of the patron.
HB72 and SB207 would prohibit SMART SCALE funding from being used for bike/ped projects. HB72 was deferred until next year in the Transportation Ad-hoc Subcommittee #4. SB207 is assigned to the Senate Transportation Committee.
Another vulnerable road user bill, SB919, got run over in Senate Transportation Committee (7 to 6).