2019 Virginia Legislative Update

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2019 Virginia Legislative Update

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/

Virginia Bicycle Federation is watching as representatives file more bills in the early session!

Distracted driving: The bills regarding bans on handheld devices, that made it so close last year, are coming out early with strong Republican and Democrat sponsors. HB1811 (Collins, R) and SB1341 (Stuart, R; Surovell, D; and Wagner, R) ban use of handheld devices while driving with nearly identical language.

Motorized foot scooters: E-scooter bills are generating a lot of attention! E-scooter companies like Bird and Lime want state legislation to save them from having to negotiate with each locality individually. But localities aren’t happy about having their hands tied by state legislation to deal with the scooters on the ground in their cities – especially by legislation written by Bird and Lime. Three bills coming up through the House, HB1786, HB2214, and HB2232, deal with motorized foot scooters.

E-scooters popped up on the scene just in the past couple years. Figuring out how to incorporate these into the flow of cars, bicycles, and walkers is going to take a little while. Do they belong on the sidewalk, bike lane, or street? Should they be allowed on Greenways? Most fatalities associated with e-scooters have involved cars and trucks, but e-scooters pose pedestrian safety concerns. Based on the maximum speed of 20 mph, e-scooters may operate better in bike lanes, and their presence may speed up bike lane striping.

Crosswalk: HB2155 deals with “multiple threat”, a crosswalk that crosses at least two lanes in a single direction. A common pedestrian – vehicle collision happens when the vehicle in the outer lane stops but the inner lane does not. HB2155 would require drivers to stop at a crosswalk if another vehicle is already stopped. While it has a long list of 5 patrons, they are all the same party so it is unlikely to go far unless that changes.

Traffic cameras: HB2633 and HB1926 deal with data retention and photo monitoring of traffic cameras. These may be of interest if they progress.

Smart Scale: The state transportation funding program, Smart Scale, relies on a 6-factor scoring process adopted by the Commonwealth Transportation Board. Attempts last year to adjust the scoring legislatively were not met favorably, and this year’s attempts are not likely to receive a warmer welcome. HB2633 would prohibit the Commonwealth Transportation Board from prioritizing a project that increases congestion over one that doesn’t. I have a hard time believing that anyone is even submitting projects to increase congestion!

Vulnerable Road Users: Bicyclists and pedestrians and other people who are not encased in a protective metal cage (including e-scooter users!) are vulnerable road users. SB1550 is a repeat of an attempt from last year to protect vulnerable road users.

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