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/
The big news this week is that SB74, a ban on use of handheld devices while driving, passed the Senate Transportation Committee (9 to 4) on Thursday and then on Monday, passed the floor of the Senate, 39 to 0! Virginia law prohibits texting and driving, and every year several bills are introduced to expand the ban to use of handheld devices. Senator Surovell sponsors such a bill each year, and is the sponsor of SB74. This is early in the session for a bill to make it through both committee and Senate. At Crossover on February 13, when bills that have passed the House or Senate move to the Senate or House, the House will consider SB74.
SB74 is important for bicyclists and pedestrians because they are at greater risk of injury or death from all traffic crashes. Less distracted driving could mean safer roads for everyone.
Three bills of interest to bicyclists and pedestrians fell victim to partisan maneuvers in committee: SB46, Stop for pedestrian in crosswalk; SB87, Vulnerable road user; and SB88, motor vehicles may not use the bike lane to pass. SB97 which bans driving with an animal in your lap failed to receive a motion (and so it wasn’t voted on). SB744 which would require seatbelt use in the back seat also failed in committee.
The House Transportation Committee subcommittees didn’t meet as scheduled last week due to weather.
One interesting development this year is live streaming and archived video of legislative sessions and some committee meetings. For example, you can watch archived video of this morning’s House Transportation Committee meeting. (However, I was not able to find video of House Transportation Subcommittee #1 that met before that.)
Here is the schedule of committee meetings, so you can watch the meetings live streaming.
- House Transportation Committee: Tuesday and Thursday at 8:30 am.
- House Transportation Subcommittee #1: Tuesday at 7:00 am.
- House Transportation Subcommittee #2: Monday at 4:00 pm.
- House Transportation Subcommittee #3: Thursday at 7:00 am.
- Senate Transportation Committee: Wednesdays, 15 minutes after adjournment.