Thursday, January 28, 2010

Share the road pocket guide and bookmark

Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC) is printing copies of a new pocket guide Sharing the Road in VIRGINIA: Laws & Safety Tips for Bicyclists & Pedestrians [large pdf] and bookmark Sharing the Road in VIRGINIA: Know the Law. According to Debbie Spiliotopoulos of NVRC,
NVRC has a transportation enhancement project to print a pocket guide and bookmark, Sharing the Road in Virginia, developed by Bike Walk Virginia, Virginia DMV, VDOT, DOH, DCR, and DOE and other bicycle/pedestrian safety leaders in Virginia. As the sponsor of a transportation enhancement grant for the development and printing of this booklet, NVRC is looking for points of distribution of these materials.
The publications will be useful guides to Virginia bike laws, although we don't agree with the wording of some of the sections. They've used a literal interpretation of the law in the Know the Law section such as "Keep one hand on handlebars when carrying articles." While it's true that if you carry articles in your hand while riding, at least one hand must be on the handlebars (46.2-906). We think it's a bad idea to carry anything in your hand while riding.

Another quibble regards where to ride in the road: "Stay as far right as safely possible or use shoulder." What the law actually states (46.2-905) is "ride as close as safely practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway." There is a difference between "possible" and "practicable."

Another example is "Don't wear earphones in both ears. (46.2-1078)" We suggest not using earphones at all. Finally, we hope this one will be need to be updated soon with passage of HB 163/SB 566: "Motorists: Allow at least two feet between you and bicyclists when passing. (46.2-839)" Even so, it would have been better to suggest allowing at least three feet when passing, regardless of the current law.

Despite our reservations about some of the text, overall these will be a useful handouts. There's also a website, Sharing the Road in Virginia.

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