Read all about Richmond Regional Ride Center.

Help Bike Lanes Prevail Over Parking in Alexandria — Sign the Petition

Alexandria City Council unanimously approved the King St. bike lanes. Thanks to everyone who wrote in support!

Please sign the petition for the Alexandria City Council to approve the King Street Traffic Calming Project with Bike Lanes, by COB Friday, March 14.

By now you’ve probably heard about the proposed bike lanes on Alexandria’s King St., and the public approval process that keeps getting dragged out. [click to continue…]

4th Virginia Bike Summit Get-Together, Recap & Thanks

Thanks from VBF to Alta’s Fionnuala Quinn for organizing this get-together for the 4th year in a row. It’s great to finally meet everyone from around Virginia, and see others we don’t get to see often enough. From Fionnuala:

Thanks to everyone who came to the 4th Virginia Get-Together on a snowy day when practically everything else in DC had shut down. Despite conditions, we gathered a great group of about 35 bike advocates, officials, summit scholarship winners, bike coordinators, and others from MORE, Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Blacksburg, Richmond, Charlottesville, Harrisonburg and elsewhere. We missed several people who had originally planned to join us because of the local weather.

After some lively socializing, we took a break for short presentations from:

Becky Johnson of Harrisonburg - Virginia Bike Summit Get-Together

Becky Johnson of Harrisonburg

  • Becky Johnston of Harrisonburg, talking about local success with eliminating a bus route via a walking school bus.
  • Beth Weisbrod, Executive Director of the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation on the progress installing the Virginia Capital Trail and the on-going need for support as the project continues moving forward.
  • Gillian Burgess of Arlington KidicalMass talked about the casual, slow-paced family rides that have been a huge local success and she called for ride-marshall volunteers to join in the fun.
  • Jeff Anderson, Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling, on the Second Fairfax Bike Summit, SRTS progress and the hiring of a new SRTS coordinator.
  • Jenifer Joy Madden, Fairfax and Durable Human, spoke about the Partnership for a Healthier Fairfax and the inclusion of health considerations in local design (check out Jenifer’s book)
  • Jonathan Nye of Ecocycling described plans for the Hampton Roads Bicycle Summit to be held on Saturday May 31st. Make a note.
  • Kitty Zeringue, the Virginia Tech Bicycle Coordinator (and New River Valley Bicycle Association president) spoke about the bike parking study that has been taking place on-campus.
  • Kyle Lawrence of Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition, provided a round up on the Harrisonburg bike master plan, the second Rockingham-Harrisonburg Bike Summit, the successful trail funding and the work taking place at JMU.
  • Mark Blacknell, Washington Area Bicyclist Association Board President/Arlington resident talked about the making of Bikeswell, the documentary (a must watch)
  • Max Hepp-Buchanan of Bike Walk RVA (Richmond) talked about the visit of elected officials and local government staff to Arlington and DC to tour bike facilities (another must-watch video)
  • Rick Holt, President of Prince William Trails and Streams Coalition, gave an up-date on local progress including a major SRTS infrastructure grant.
  • Susan Wilson, Manager of Transportation for the City of Portsmouth, spoke about the progress installing dedicated bike lanes throughout the City using various funding mechanisms and the other upcoming plans
  • Tom Bowden, of Virginia Bicycling Federation (VBF), provided an update on the ongoing legislative session.
  • Travis Davidson, Tidewater Bicycle Association, provided an update on the ongoing effort to incorporate a bicycle friendly multi-use path along the light rail planned in Virginia Beach and plans to hold a local bike summit in February, 2015
  • Wendy Phelps, Active Transportation Planner working on bicycle and pedestrian issues at City of Charlottesville, updated us on ongoing planning and improvements.

[click to continue…]

VA Legislature Drawing to a Close

As the 2014 Session of the Virginia General Assembly draws to a close on Saturday, March 8, cyclists may soon feel safer on Virginia’s roads but additional work will needed to be made in the future.

Thanks to the work of Senator Bryce Reeves (R – Spotsylvania), if Gov. McAuliffe signs SB97, motorists will be required to pass cyclists by at least three feet.  This was a hard fought battle but a great victory for all of us.

Though Delegate Barbara Comstock (R – Fairfax/Loudon) wasn’t successful with HB82, requiring motorists to not follow cyclists too closely, she certainly made a valiant effort to get it through the Senate Transportation Committee — where a number of longtime supporters voted against the bill.  Considering that Virginia is the only state which doesn’t protect cyclists from being tailgated, this legislation merely corrected an embarrasing omission to the existing Code.  It seems larger forces (Politics!) may have influenced the outcome of what seems like a common sense bill.

Senator Chap Petersen (D – Fairfax) suffered a similar fate with his SB225 before the Senate Transportation Committee. This “dooring” bill would have made it illegal to open a car door into moving traffic and causing an accident.

Until we make our roads and streets safe for all cyclists, we are facing an uphill battle to expect average citizens to choose to ride their bikes to work, school, for errands exercise or vacation.  Good common sense legislation like those introduced this year helps us achieve this goal.

We will soon begin planning for the 2015 Session.  If you live in Senators Reeves’ or Petersen’s, or Delegate Comstock’s districts, please thank them for going to bat for us.  We will be back to fight another day, but need the help of citizens across the state to get these bills passed.

SB97 ‘Three Foot Passing’ Is Passed by the House

Just back from a long day at the U.S. Capitol, as the League of American Bicyclists Bike Summit had their Lobby Day.

While there, at shortly after 1 p.m., I received the good news that the Virginia House of Delegates, after Passing the Bill By for the Day on both Monday and Tuesday (for reasons I have not yet learned) PASSED the Bill today by a 72 – 27 vote, culminating more than 5 years of effort in attempting to get to this result. SB 97 Bicycles, etc.; minimum clearance for passing.

floor: 03/05/14 House: VOTE: PASSAGE (72-Y 27-N) YEAS–Albo, Anderson, BaCote, Brink, Bulova, Campbell, Carr, Chafin, Cole, Comstock, Dance, DeSteph, Fariss, Farrell, Filler-Corn, Futrell, Greason, Habeeb, Head, Herring, Hester, Hope, Howell, A.T., Hugo, Ingram, James, Keam, Kilgore, Kory, Krupicka, Landes, LaRock, Leftwich, LeMunyon, Lopez, Loupassi, Marshall, R.G., Mason, Massie, McClellan, McQuinn, Miller, Minchew, Morris, Morrissey, O’Bannon, O’Quinn, Orrock, Plum, Pogge, Ramadan, Rasoul, Robinson, Rush, Rust, Sickles, Simon, Spruill, Stolle, Surovell, Taylor, Torian, Toscano, Tyler, Villanueva, Ward, Ware, Watts, Wilt, Yancey, Yost, Mr. Speaker–72.

NAYS–Adams, Austin, Bell, Richard P., Bell, Robert B., Berg, Bloxom, Byron, Cline, Cox, Davis, Edmunds, Fowler, Garrett, Gilbert, Helsel, Hodges, Joannou, Jones, Knight, Lingamfelter, Marshall, D.W., Morefield, Poindexter, Ransone, Scott, Webert, Wright–27.

ABSTENTIONS–0.

NOT VOTING–Peace–1.

Thanks are due to many, as I will expand upon later, but the hour is late.

Update: please note that Del. Buddy Fowler & Del. Chris Peace have notified the
House Clerk that their intent was to vote FOR the bill, rather than
being counted as a NAY and a Not Voting.

Although they do not rewrite history in such cases, and the vote still
stands as 72 – 27, their intentions are noted in the official record.

Accordingly, no need to express disappointment to them, but rather your
thanks.

Virginians to Get Together at the Bike Summit

Are you coming to the Bike Summit in DC next week?  Even if you’re not attending the conference itself, there’s plenty going on that’s open to everyone.  For example, the congressional visits (contact Champe to schedule yours).  And the Virginia get-together Monday evening, where we hope you can drop by and join us.  It’s a great chance to meet everyone, and get the dirt on what’s really going on!

From our organizer and friend, Fionnuala Quinn:

We are holding a casual gathering for any Virginia folks in town for bike summit events. This is a great chance to connect and put faces to the names. We also have a few people lined up to tell us briefly about some great Virginia projects of the last year. We have reserved several tables at Cuba Libre, one and a half blocks from the Renaissance hotel.  

Where:  Cuba Libre, 801 9th St. NW, Washington, DC 20001 – corner of 9th & H Streets

When:  4:30 pm to 6:00 pm on Monday March 3rd

Refreshments:  The Virginia Bicycling Federation and Alta Planning + Design will sponsor appetizers but everyone will be responsible for their own food and drink orders

RSVP:  FionnualaQuinn@altaplanning.com  so we have some idea of numbers

What to bring:  Bring along any new materials, brochures, flyers developed locally to inspire others

Please feel free to extend this invitation to others based in Virginia with a biking interest.  We hope that you can join us this year.

SB97 ‘Three Foot Passing’ Gets Through House Transportation Committee

SB97 has been passed by the House.

“Now we need all hands on deck to contact their delegates to support SB 97 when it hits the House floor, which will be soon.”

First on the Docket at 8:30 a.m. with Senator Reeves doing a strong job of presenting (and starting his presentation with “As a former police officer”), Supporters were given 3 minutes to state their case, of which I only took two to pre-empt the “Not enforceable” argument, and my comments were supported by Sen. Reeves, the State Police rep, and Del. Habeeb from Roanoke (surprisingly, the only attorney on the 22 member committee) who stated that the “Not Enforceable” argument became moot when 2 foot was put into the law ten years ago.

Then some discussion, and questions of Del. Habeeb acting as Committee Parliamentarian (which I didn’t, and still don’t, fully understand) as Delegate Comstock requested adding the “Following Too Closely” language back into Sen. Reeves’ bill, since “Following Too Closely” had previously passed this Committee and then the Full House.

After a little discussion on that topic as to whether the two bills were “Germane”, Chairman Rust said “Let’s get THIS bill passed in THIS committee first, before we talk about adding something into it. With that, a motion to Report was made and seconded, followed by a vote of 14-6, with two absences, Minchew & Toscano, that I am fairly confident would also have voted to Report.

It should be noted that Del. Habeeb gave the bill very strong support, and is to be Thanked, while the only one who spoke in opposition was Tim Hugo from Prince William, who concentrated on the “Motorist won’t be able to pass the bicyclists without crossing the double line, if three feet is passed, ” argument.

Both Sheryl Finucane and I were too busy to take a photo of the board, so won’t know who the six nays were until the results are posted on the website, but one will be Hugo, and another Garrett (keeping his anti-bicycling record at 100%.

Now we need ALL Hands on Deck to contact their Delegates to support SB 97 when it hits the House Floor, which will be soon.

(Do not take anyone’s vote for granted, even if they’ve supported this in the past.)

If you’ve been sitting this campaign out (as a number of RABA members obviously have, as shown by the Salsa reports), its time to lift a finger and get this bill across the goal line. This is the best chance we’ve had in all the years I’ve been working on these bills, so please give us a little push.

HB82 ‘Following Too Closely’ Fails Again in Committee

(HB82) …Fails by an 11-4 vote upon reconsideration in Senate Transportation Committee this afternoon.

Despite a decent job of presenting the bill by our patron, Delegate Barbara Comstock of McLean, and strong support by Senators Dave Marsden of Fairfax & Ryan McDougle of Hanover, Sen. Carrico, our steadfast opponent of anything bicycling related, was able to steer the discussion over to his “unenforceability” argument, getting support for that point from Newman, Watkins, and Chairman Deeds himself.

After a decent amount of discussion, and several responses to questions by the State Police Rep to the effect that it was sometimes difficult to do so, but that it was as enforceable as a number of other laws, Sen. Newman of Lynchburg weighed in to the effect that it was primarily an Education problem and that he was suggesting that the bill be referred to some Accountability Commission that I am not familiar with, (and may have the name incorrect for).

With that referral agreed to on a voice vote, a motion to Pass the bill by carried by 11-4, with only Alexander, Favola, & Marsden, plus McDougle, voting against.

Now we have the “Three Foot Passing” bill before the House Transportation Committee tomorrow morning at 8:30, hopefully with better results. After that, I intend to see if I can find out what’s involved with the Commission the bill has been referred to, and thank Delegate Comstock for her efforts as Patron, Senator Alexander for his work in getting the bill reconsidered, and Senators Marsden, Favola & McDougle for their support.

As I look back through my disappointment at the way things went, I think I’m most disappointed with my own performance, as I let Sen. Carrico steer the conversation completely away from the merits of the bill and onto “enforceability”. In my own defense, it is difficult to respond to a Committee member, unless they ask you to, or the Chair does, so a number of Carrico’s illogical points went unanswered. If I should have another chance, I think I can pre-empt this argument, and will attempt to do so at my very first opportunity.

Position On HB82, “Following Too Closely”

Also available as a Word document, please share and use this to get constituents to write to Senate Transportation Committee members, before their meeting Wednesday afternoon, 2/26.

To the Chairman and members of the Senate Transportation Committee of the 2014 Virginia General Assembly:

The Virginia Bicycling Federation respectfully offers the following points for the consideration of the Senators serving on the Senate Transportation Committee with respect to HB 82, known as the “Following Too Closely Bill”

1. This is a simple bill. One word would be removed from the existing § 46.2-816. The statute, as amended, would then be consistent with the Uniform Vehicle Code, which provides, in part:

Uniform Vehicle Code § 11-310— Following too closely

(a) The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.

2. Virginia is the only state that explicitly declines to protect all legal users of the roadway from unreasonable and imprudent motorists. 48 states follow the UVC language, and Alabama has vague language, i.e. “driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow … ‘another’ more closely than is reasonable and prudent….” Alabama’s statute then uses “vehicle” elsewhere in the statute – which may be interpreted as meaning that the “another” refers to “another vehicle.”

3. Without this amendment, §46.2-816 is in direct conflict with §46.2-800 which grants the operator of a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, moped, or an animal or driving an animal on a highway the same rights and duties of a driver of a motor vehicle.

4. There is no reason to believe that the proposed revised statute would be any more difficult to enforce than the current statute, which is routinely enforced against drivers who rear-end other drivers. The Virginia State Police have testified, through their representative Danny Glick, that the enforcement of the revised statute would not pose any particular problem.

5. The Senate Transportation Committee has voted overwhelmingly in favor of previous versions of this bill in 2011 (15 -0) and 2012 (14-0) by many of the same committee members now serving. In the Senate, the bill was approved by margins of 40-0 in 2011 and 28-12 in 2012.

6. According to http://novasmartcycling.blogspot.com, the City of Virginia Beach requested this legislation in its Requested Code of Virginia Changes for 2010 and 2011.

For the foregoing reasons, on behalf of Virginia’s cyclists and others who choose not to, or cannot, operate motor vehicles, we, the Virginia Bicycling Federation, respectfully ask you, our elected representatives, to correct this glaring inconsistency within the Virginia Motor Vehicle Code. There is, quite simply, no rational basis for failing to pass this bill.

Three Foot Passing Through Subcommittee; Dooring Defeated

Only three bills on the docket in House Transportation SubCommittee 2 at 7a.m. so we had plenty of time for a full discussion. Six of the seven committee members were present, with Del. Terry Austin of the Covington/Roanoke area absent.

Sen Chap Petersen was called first with the Dooring bill and did a nice job of presenting, and fielding a number of questions from Scott Taylor of Virginia Beach, who had made it clear in a prior meeting that he wasn’t in favor of this concept of placing the burden of responsibility on the motorist when a door is opened into traffic. When the motion was made to Report the bill, Taylor & Villanueva (also of Virginia Beach) voted with Chairman Garrett (the M.D. from Lynchburg who kept his record intact of NEVER supporting any bill that would benefit the bicyclists) against the bill, with Carr, LeMunyon, & Ward voting for, so we thought we had lost on a 3-3 vote. After the meeting I learned from the Clerk that Del. Austin had given his proxy to Chairman Garrett, so the vote was recorded as 4-3.

Sen. Bryce Reeves of Fredericksburg was up next with SB97, the 3 ft. Passing bill. He also did a good job of presenting it, and with less discussion than we had had on the Dooring bill, a motion to Report was made, and passed by what we thought was a 5-1 vote, with only Chairman Garrett voting against. As with the Dooring bill, I found out later that he had again used Del. Austin’s proxy to vote against the bill, so the official count is reported as 5-2. This bill now goes on to the full House Transportation Committee, where it will be heard on Thursday morning, with the meeting beginning at the more civilized hour of 8:30. Jay Paul, speaking as an Insurance agent for the Dooring bill, Tom Bowden for Bike Virginia, Michael Gilbert of Ride Richmond, and I all spoke in favor of both bills, while no one spoke in opposition.

As reported last week, HB82/Don’t Follow a Bicycle Too Closely with Del. Comstock as patron, will be reconsidered in Senate Transportation, on Wednesday after adjournment of the Senate, usually around 1:30. These are the last hurdles for both of these bills, prior to going to the floor of their respective body, so I’m hopeful we can get them both reported.

See Also:Virginia House panel again shoots down bill to protect cyclists from ‘dooring’” (Washington Post)

New Bike 76 Corridor Study

Bike 76 in Virginia Pin - awarded to those who ride all of USBR 76 in Virginia

Thomas Jefferson Planning District is undertaking a corridor study of US Bike Route 76, the TransAmerica Trail, through Louisa, Fluvanna, Albemarle and Nelson counties, and Charlottesville.

The 3 phase study will inventory existing route conditions, initiate a promotional campaign and recommend roadway safety improvements. The Virginia Bicycling Federation Long Distance Routes Committee and Adventure Cycling Association are assisting with the study as needed.

The corridor study is a unique initiative on a Planning District level in Virginia. It could be a model for the other six Planning Districts USBR 76 crosses in its 576 mile path through the Commonwealth.

The study is part of the 2014 scope of work of the Planning District’s Rural Transportation Committee. The Committee members were presented honorary USBR 76 Virginia pins (pictured above) at its February 17, 2014 meeting, on behalf of VBF by Long Distance Routes Chair Joe Morgan. Information that will be useful for the study is:

  • confirmation of funding sources for roadway safety bicycling facilities;
  • documentation of the economic impact of bicycle touring and recreation; and,
  • examples of effective on-line or social media promotion of long distance bicycle routes.

Comments and suggestions may be sent to Will Cockrell (wcockrell@tjpdc.org), lead staff for the study.

VBF is seeking a volunteer monitor in each Planning District of USBR 76 signage, safety and bicycle friendly businesses & attractions. If interested, contact Joe Morgan (jnmorgan@pulaskicounty.org).