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.