New Bike Law Requires 3 Feet between Cars and Cyclists

Beginning July 1, Virginia drivers must make room for cyclists on the road or face hefty fines and lose points from their driver's licenses.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Beginning July 1, drivers who refuse to give cyclists more than 3 feet of space on the road will be issued an improper passing violation, which could deduct 3 points from their driver’s licenses among other fines and court costs.

Senate Bill 97, introduced by Sen. Bryce Reeves, R-Fredericksburg, mandates that drivers must remain 2-3 feet away from cyclists as well as scooters, wheelchairs, mopeds and animal-drawn vehicles. Virginia joins 22 other states and Washington, D.C. with similar driving laws.

The legislation is intended to build relationships between cyclists and motorists, in addition to preventing accidents and saving lives. Reeves said drivers must not pass cyclists without 3 feet of space and cannot cross the double yellow lines even on small country roads, WRIC reports.

Reeves added that officers will use discretion in determining what constitutes an offense, but cyclists should also be mindful of drivers and allow oncoming traffic to pass by moving to the side of the road.

In 2014, the League of American Bicyclists ranked Virginia as the 18th most bike-friendly state, praising Virginia’s existing policies and programs but suggesting the state adopt various cycling safety laws.

Last year alone, 600 cyclists were injured and 8 died in Virginia.

Bruce Wright June 28, 2014 at 08:19 PM
treelover, VDOT has a good page with links to all Virginia laws that apply to bicyclists at http://www.virginiadot.org/programs/bk-laws.asp Ken, on a narrow, 2-lane road motorists currently can't pass a bicyclist with 2 feet of clearance without going over the yellow line, so nothing has really changed in that respect. You still have to wait until it's safe to pass, or pass over the yellow line. Passing a bicyclist going 15 mph where there's a yellow line is a lot different than passing another motorists going much faster. Some states event allow motorists to pass a bicyclist if it requires going over the yellow line if there is no oncoming traffic. jalefema, those people you see in Manassas riding on the sidewalk often don't have any other means of transportation. Many of them are the servers who work at restaurants cooking your food, bringing your meal, and washing your dishes. They do need to be educated about VA laws and most bicyclists will welcome those education efforts.
doug redman June 29, 2014 at 12:36 AM
That's fine. I'll do that. However, when are the local authorities going to start enforcing the general traffic laws that the cyclists continually ignore? Stop signs specifically! They own the roads. Cars, pedestrians be damned! On the walking paths, per their own rules of etiquette, they rarely let anyone know when they are approaching. You would think that with their professional looking outfits complete with sponsors fake endorsements that they would know they are supposed to let people know when they approach from the behind. In the realm of public opinion they are their own worst enemies.
Andy Seamans June 29, 2014 at 01:15 AM
Bicycles are as much part of the problem. Like on Virginia Ave in Falls Church where there is a bike path yet they still choose to ride in the middle of the driving lane instead of using the path.
Fairfax Resident June 29, 2014 at 03:38 PM
The reason that many cyclists take a lane instead of riding on the bike path is safety. Cyclists traveling betwen 20 and 30 mph are safer on roads than on bike paths populated with families out for a walk or people walking their dogs.
Shelly July 02, 2014 at 07:13 AM
Isn't there also a law that says a vehicle that travels 10 or more miles per hour under the posted speed limit it is impeding traffic? If bicycles are considered vehicles and they are utilizing the public public road, then shouldn't their speed be no less than 10 miles under the posted MPH in order to maintain traffic flow since we can no longer pass them?


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