Thursday, February 18, 2010

Three foot passing bill fails in House (again)

There was one last chance for the Virginia House to pass a three foot passing bill. Even though the House version of the bill, HB1068, was defeated, the Senate version, SB566, passed in the Senate by a vote of 40-0. When SB566 moved to the House, it was tabled yesterday by House Transportation Subcommittee 2, effectively killing it. Delegate Rust of Herndon voted to table it.

See the VBF account of the vote, which included statements unrelated to the bill, about scofflaw cyclists:
Del. Oder from Newport News (who had supported 1048) recounted an incident on his way to church with his wife last Sunday where he observed two cyclists passing too close to his stopped car and then running a red light, and asked if this behavior was legal, to which I replied "absolutely not". He had some other comments about what apparently is a large, peloton-like, ride that he sees regularly on Sunday mornings in his area, and questioning me as to whether this riding behavior is proper. He concluded by stating that perhaps we should put in some bills with specific penalties for bicyclist misbehavior.

Del. Rust, from Herndon & the W & OD Trail area, then took his turn and recounted the publicized incident last spring where, on their MS Ride, a number of riders were ticketed for running a Stop sign, but the charges were dismissed in court.

Finally, Chairman Carrico, the retired State policeman, stated as he has consistently , that none of these passing distances are enforceable; and that this is an "Educational Problem". He then called Linwood Buckner (the Legislative Affairs representative from DMV) forward and strongly requested that Linwood "work with the bicycling folks to improve the way the bicycling rules are presented in the DMV materials and driver's exam". Linwood agreed to do so, and we will meet after the conclusion of this legislative session, so we may yet get some benefit from all of this. All that having been said, the bill was promptly Tabled.
The only good that will come out of this process is the possibility of updating "DMV materials and driver's exam."

See VBF's post Three Feet to Pass—Why Such Resistance? for a thorough discussion some objections raised to passage of the bill and responses to those objections. Thanks to VBF for doing a great job of tracking this and other legislation and for getting the word out to advocates around the state.

In the meantime, we'll have to settle for the 3 Fee Please jersey (photo above).

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Contact Delegate Rust Now

Senate Bill 566, the three foot passing bill, was passed unanimously in the Senate and now goes to House Transportation Sub-Committee 2 tomorrow morning. While it may be too late to make a difference, please call or write to Delegate Rust (804-698-1088,, the only N. Va. delegate on that committee. Del. Rust voted for the similar House Bill 1068 in committee but then voted against it in the full House. His support is critical to getting the bill out of committee.

Also before the committee is SB 228, "Stop for Pedestrians in Crosswalks," which gets closer to passage each year.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Three foot passing bill fails in House

HB 1048, the bill that would require motorists to allow three feet when passing a bicyclist, failed by a vote of 43 to 54 in the House today. See the VBF Legislative update for details. If you contacted your Delegate and they voted for the bill, please write to thank them for their vote.

According to VBF:
Senate Bill 566 containing just Three Foot Passing is still alive, and will be crossing over to the House Transportation Committee and then, hopefully, to the Full House, in the near future.

As soon as the roll call voting is posted I will forward it along and will urge everyone to contact their delegates expressing disappointment if they voted Nay and thanking them if they voted For the bill. Hopefully, we may be able to turn at least 6 or 7 votes around and get SB 566 passed.
Update 2/16/2010: See who voted against HB 1048. Northern Virginia Delegates voting against: Albo, Hugo, Lingamfelter, Marshall, May, Miller, and Rust, all Republicans. Shouldn't bicycle safety be a non-partisan issue?

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Three feet to pass bill clears Senate Trans. Comm.

From the 1/28/2010 VBF Legislative Update, SB 566, the three foot to pass bill, was merged with the House bill and is now out of committee and headed for the full Senate. The careless driving or tailgating sections were removed. Please contact your Senator to urge passage of SB 566. To find contact info for your Senator, visit the Who's My Legislator page.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Support SB 566, three feet to pass

The Virginia Senate Transportation Committee will meet today at 2 p.m. to consider Senate Bill 566:
Careless driving; following too closely; passing other vehicles. Creates the offense of careless driving as a Class 3 misdemeanor. The bill also adds bicycles, electric personal assistive mobility devices, electric power-assisted bicycles, and mopeds to the list of vehicles that the driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow more closely than is reasonable. Also increases passing distance from two to three feet.
According to Allen Muchnick of Virginia Bicycling Federation, the careless driving language will be removed from the Senate bill. The House bill is HB 163 House Bill, HB 1048, [was merged with SB 566, see VFB update.]

Even without the careless driving provision the proposed bill will benefit cyclists by helping to prevent harassment by motorists who follow or pass too close. Besides Sen. Ticer, the patron of SB 566, Sen. Chap Petersen (804-698-7534) and [no longer on Transportation Committee] Sen. Dave Marsden (804-698-7637) are both from Northern Virginia and are members of the Senate Transporation Committee. Please contact these senators and ask for their support for SB 566.

For more information on contacting your legislators, see Allen Muchnick's response to a question from Alan Young on why it is important to contact committee members, even if you do not live in their district.

VBF if posting frequent updates on bicycle-related legislature.

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