Having had too many “close calls” with cars, trucks and vans that do not keep a safe following or passing distance, I was hopeful that the major piece of legislation supported by cyclists in this year’s Virginia legislative session was the bill that would require motorists to allow three feet when passing bicyclists. This proposed legislation was spurred by a desire to bring the Code of Virginia in line with contemporary safe separation practices. In addition, cycling advocacy groups like the Virginia Bicycling Federation had hoped to make some progress in addressing incidents in recent years where Virginia’s criminal justice system turned its back on bikers. Recent posts about bicycle riders who have been struck, ridden off the road, injured and knocked unconscious and then ticketed, charged and prosecuted suggest that cyclists in the Commonwealth are at risk on the roads, the courts AND the legislature. As stated in the Virginia Bike Organization’s web site, “If you think that running over a bicyclist or pedestrian is illegal in Virginia, think again. The above legislation would not have totally fixed this, but the changes would have helped.”
The Senate version of the bill, SB566, passed by a vote of 40-0. The House version, HB1068, made it out of the Transportation Committee, but in the full House it was defeated on a partisan vote. All the Republican delegates voted against the bill, including Del. Rust from Herndon who had earlier voted for the bill in committee. The W&OD Trail goes through the heart of Herndon, and the Reston Bike Club Thursday night rides start and end in the center of the Historic Downtown District of Herndon. There are bikers constantly getting on and off this wonderful Trail. For the Delegate from the Town of Herndon to not be a proponent of bike safety flies in the face of reason. Triathlon Trial Lawyer Doug Landau appreciates the Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling (“FABB”) MARCH-APRIL 2010 FABB News
See the Virginia Bicycle Federation analysis of the issues involved and some of the reasons for the bill’s failure this year.