Sunday, January 20, 2008

Crosswalk law revision

Bicyclists often use crosswalks when crossing roads while riding on trails. When doing so, they have the rights and responsibilities of pedestrians. Accroding to 46.2-904, A person riding a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, motorized skateboard or scooter, motor-driven cycle, or an electric power-assisted bicycle on a sidewalk, shared-use path, or across a roadway on a crosswalk, shall have all the rights and duties of a pedestrian under the same circumstances.

For the past several years bills have been introduced in the Virginia legislature to reform the current crosswalk law that requires motorists to “yield” to pedestrians and bicyclists in a crosswalk. This is what yield means in the current law: The drivers of vehicles entering, crossing, or turning at intersections shall change their course, slow down, or stop if necessary to permit pedestrians to cross such intersections safely and expeditiously. Other parts of the law are also vague regarding responsibilities of motorists.

This year VDOT and several local jurisdictions met to develop refined language for the proposed bill that addresses some concerns about language in prior year bills. Using this new language, Delegate Adam Ebbin (D), representing House District 49, introduced HB 1270 to require motorists to stop for pedestrians and bicyclists in crosswalks. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate, SB 644.

FABB strongly supports these proposed bills and urges cyclists to contact their delegates and senators to ask for their support. If you don't know the contact info for your legislator, visit the Who's My Legislator site

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