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.