Tell US DOT that bicyclists’ safety counts.

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).

New Report: Lifting the Veil on Bicycle & Pedestrian Spending

From The Alliance’s Christy Kwan:

Advocacy Advance just released a new report today called “Lifting the Veil on Bicycle & Pedestrian Spending,” which takes a deep dive into Statewide Transportation Improvement Programs (STIPs).The STIP is a federally-required document which express how states plan to spend federal transportation funds for the next four years.

The report reviewed all 50 STIPs in the country and counted the number and total cost of bicycle and pedestrian projects reported in the STIP. The results are eye opening and attempt to capture a picture of active transportation investments across the country. In addition to the report, we have also created customized score cards for each state, which may be of particular interest. You can see how your state is doing in terms of active transportation spending, as well as the data transparency within the STIP.

We hope that this report starts a serious conversation about how states can provide better information on transportation spending and provides context for discussions about investments in facilities for people who bike and walk. We’re also working on an advocate’s guide, which will hopefully provide some ideas on how to best use this report’s findings with your state DOT.

You can download the report and score cards at: http://bit.ly/LiftingTheVeil

A Small Success & A Big Disappointment…

…as HB82 “don’t follow non-motorized vehicles more closely than is reasonable and prudent” was Passed by Indefinitely in the Senate Transportation Committee this afternoon.

Several Committee members were out of the room, and we will have to wait to see how the vote is posted on the website. Since it was a voice vote, that may be all that is stated. I believe I heard the Chairman say that there were four No votes (in favor of the bill), which would have been Favola, Colgan, Marsden (all Northern VA D’s) plus one other, perhaps Chairman Deeds himself.

Here’s the vote (this is on a motion to TABLE THE BILL so a YEA is a vote AGAINST):

  • YEAS–Deeds, Marsh, Newman, Watkins, Puckett, Smith, Miller, Carrico, Alexander–9.
  • NAYS–Wagner, Marsden, McWaters, Colgan, Favola–5.
  • ABSTENTIONS–0.

Sen. Carrico kept his 100% record intact of voting against ANY bicycling safety legislation by vigorously speaking in opposition to the bill, primarily along the lines of “Bicycles move so slowly along rural roads, that when cars come upon them, they have to slow down, and then it takes them longer in the other lane at slower speed in order to get past the bicycle.” None of that really had anything to do with this blll which pertains to Following too closely, and not passing.

Since it is almost impossible in these meetings to rebut, or debate, unless asked to by the Chair or the Senator asking the question, assertions like this, even if illogical, often have to go unanswered.

One piece of good news, as expected, HB 542, the bill which will permit the wearing of a mask outdoors, as long as you do not appear to have the “intent to conceal your identity” received final passage in the Senate today by a 40-0 vote.

Now we have our final two bills, “3 ft. passing” & “Don’t open your vehicle door into moving traffic”, which will be heard in House Transportation Sub 2 on Monday morning at 7 a.m.  (If you haven’t written to your legislators about these bills, please do so now.)