Virginia Transportation Legislative Roundup 2017 – FINAL

Virginia Transportation Legislative Roundup 2017 – FINAL

Here is the final roundup of transportation safety and bicycle bills that passed and (mostly) didn’t pass the state legislature.

Seven of the eighteen bills I discussed previously passed, representing four new laws (some bills introduced simultaneously in the House and in the Senate didn’t merge until the end of the process). None of the distracted driving bills passed.

While I’m neutral on much of the proposed legislation, I have strong feelings about traffic safety. My views are not those of RIDE Solutions or the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission. Many thanks to the Virginia Bicycle Federation for much of the information. (I also serve as Secretary on the Virginia Bicycle Federation.)

Maintenance Funding

The formula for maintenance funding influences what types of roads we build.

HB2023 Maintenance Funding for Road Diets (Villanueva) PASSED

Virginia’s funding formula inadvertently penalizes a popular safety measure: the Road Diet. In the past decade, Road Diets have been all the rage as they can reduce serious crashes up to 49% without reducing traffic flow by converting a 4-lane road into a 2-lane road with a center turn lane.

Under Virginia law, each city and county receives state funding for road maintenance based on the number of travel lane-miles. Road Diets reduce the number of travel lanes from 4 to 2, but don’t change maintenance costs, so cities and counties must make up the difference. Thus, there is a financial disincentive in Virginia to implement this otherwise inexpensive safety strategy.

Distracted Driving

None of the distracted driving bills made it, despite strong bipartisan and popular support.

SB860 Handheld Device Usage (Surovell) and HB2435 (Minchew) FAILED

Prohibits use of handheld devices while driving. SB860 didn’t make it out of the Senate Transportation Committee. HB2435 was incorporated into HB1834.

HB1606 No Handheld Devices While in Work Zones (Villanueva) FAILED

HB1606 passed the House and passed Senate Transportation Committee, but then was referred to the Courts of Justice, which had already had its last meeting for the session.

HB1834 Distracted Driving Infraction (Anderson) and SB1406 (Vogel/Black) FAILED

HB1834 was narrowly defeated in the Courts of Justice. SB1406 was also defeated in the Senate Courts of Justice.

SB1339 Vulnerable User/ Due Care (Surovell) and HB1633 (Sullivan/LeMunyon) FAILED

SB1339 passed the Senate and bounced around a few House committees before being “left” in Courts of Justice. HB1633 didn’t make it out of the Criminal Law Subcommittee of the Courts of Justice.


This set of bills was inspired by the family of a girl who was struck and killed by a driver with poor vision.

HB1504 Minimum Standards for Vision Tests (Fowler) and SB1229 (Dunnavant) PASSED

Increases the horizontal field of vision requirement and would necessitate replacing 634 testing machines in DMV offices at a cost of $2.2 million. I was surprised that this passed so smoothly, given the price tag.

HB1514 Reporting Disabilities of Drivers (Fowler) and SB1024 (Dunnavant) PASSED

Exempts medical personnel from civil liability if they report persons who should not be driving to the DMV.

Sidewalks and Bike Lanes

HB2016 Drones on Sidewalks and SB1207 (DeSteph) PASSED

Addresses the operation of small, low-speed, driverless delivery vehicles on sidewalks and trails.

SB1338 Prohibit Passing in the Bike Lane (Surovell) FAILED

Passed the Senate but didn’t make it out of the House.

Prohibit the use of a bike lane as a passing lane.

HB2021 Trail Permitted on Unused Light Rail Right-of-Way (Villanueva) FAILED

Allows a trail to be built on the unused light rail right-of-way between Virginia Beach and Norfolk. The light rail project failed to get the necessary funds raised.


And a couple of bills that don’t fit neatly into any of the other categories.

SB1223 Bicycling Under the Influence (Barker) FAILED

Makes it a Class 2 Misdemeanor to operate a bicycle while intoxicated.

SB1510 Trooper at Work Zone May Issue Ticket for Speeding (Carrico) FAILED

Allows a state trooper in a work zone to issue a speeding ticket using a handheld speed gun with a camera.

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