With the General Assembly now in session, I gave Champe Burnley a call to talk about bike-related issues in front of the GA. Not surprisingly, Burnley beat me to the punch: “Check out our website,” the Virginia Bicycling Federation representative said.
At Vabike.org, Burnley has compiled a list of three pieces of legislation his group is pushing. “We’ve had these up before (the GA) before and we haven’t gotten them through,” Burnley said. “But we’re feeling pretty optimistic we can get these through this year.”
Here’s the list:
This bill would help educate motor vehicle drivers to pass the drivers of any non-motorized vehicle (including a bicycle) with a wider margin of error, and thereby reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries to these legal and legitimate road users. In addition, this bill could improve justice for all lawful and prudent drivers of non-motorized vehicles (including bicycles) who are injured by negligent following motorists. Finally, this bill would make it illegal to harass or endanger the driver of any legal vehicle by “buzzing” them. The current code says “pass by (at least) two feet”, but it doesn’t seem to be enough. Click here to read more about SB 97.
Currently this Code section applies only to motor vehicles following other motor vehicles, trailers, or semi-trailers. The proposed modification would extend the same standard of legal protection to the drivers of all vehicles that are permitted on the roadway, including bicycles, mopeds, and animal-drawn vehicles. The prohibition on following too closely would still only apply to drivers of motor vehicles, so the common (and typically safe) practice of a bicyclist drafting another bicyclist would not be affected.
As the number of cyclists on roads increase and bike lanes become more prevalent in our urban areas, “dooring” has become a major threat to cyclists. It’s a threat because there is no way to prevent accidents and serious injuries. Right now, the driver is not at fault. Drivers are permitted to open the car door at their discretion. There is no law to find them negligent of causing the injury.