Each year, the Virginia Bicycle Federation monitors and advocates for or against 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 bills at http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/
The Virginia Bicycle Federation has a short watch-list this year. The Virginia Bicycle Federation actively worked with lawmakers, including Southwest Virginia elected officials, to introduce the Bicyclist Safety Act: SB1263 and HB2262. This act has three parts:
- Change lanes to pass. The current law requires motor vehicles to allow three feet when passing bicyclists. This law would require motor vehicles to change lanes to pass bicyclists.
- Bicyclists may ride two abreast. Bicyclists currently are restricted to riding single file, but it is easier, quicker, and safer for a motor vehicle to pass two bicyclists who are riding side by side.
- Bicyclists must yield the right-of-way at stop signs. Instead a full stop, yielding to vehicles that have the right-of-way is more efficient and is how most bicyclists treat stop signs. The law being at odds with common practice has potential for inequitable policing – and has been misused in the past.
SB1263 passed Senate Transportation Committee (11-4) and HB2262 passed the House Transportation Motor Vehicle Subcommittee (8-2), then SB1263 failed on the Senate floor (16-22) while HB2262 passed the House Transportation Committee (16-5), the House floor (75-24), and in the Senate after crossover, the Senate Transportation Committee (9-5). Interestingly, two of the Senators who initially voted FOR SB1263 in committee changed their vote on the floor and kept their nay vote when HB2262 came to the committee.
The opposition generally feels that bicyclists should stop at stop signs and doesn’t like allowing bicyclists to yield instead of stop.
The other bill of interest is HB1903, which removes the requirement of a speed study before lowering speed limits in residential and business districts. This passed the House Transportation Systems Subcommittee and the House Transportation Committee unanimously, and it passed the House floor 93-6. It passed the Senate Transportation Subcommittee 9-5.
Both bills are likely to be heard on the Senate floor on Tuesday, February 16.