Bicyclists push for share-the-road laws
Brantley Tyndall, a Richmond bicyclist, used his only form of transportation to show up in support of Bicycle Action Day at the Capitol. This session, Virginia legislators have introduced several bills that advocates say would make biking safer across the commonwealth.
Tyndall says he relies on biking as his means of transportation, because it’s fast, cheap, fun and environmentally friendly and it keeps him healthy. While Tyndall himself hasn’t been involved in a bike accident, he knows several people who have.
“Cyclists should be protected, and it’s better for all road users in general. It’s not all about cyclists,” he said.
Tyndall is a board member of RideRichmond, a nonprofit organization of bicycle enthusiasts. This was the first Bicycle Action Day held by the group.
About 15 bicyclists – members of RideRichmond and their supporters – met on the Virginia Commonwealth University campus and biked to the General Assembly Building to demonstrate support for legislation that would require drivers to give bicycles more room on the road.
“It’s our day to be supportive and loud,” Tyndall said.
He said the bicycle safety legislation would benefit everyone, not just bicyclists. Tyndall said the bills are not specifically “pro-bike,” but instead “pro-all road users.”
Michael Gilbert, co-founder of RideRichmond, agreed.
“Many cyclists are also drivers. We’re not just a special interest group, and we’re not here to talk about an ‘us vs. them’ mentality … We believe cycling is a nonpartisan issue that simply makes sense,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert praised the efforts of Sens. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, and Bryce Reeves, R-Spotsylvania, and Delegate Alfonso Lopez, D–Arlington, for their bicycle legislation.
Petersen is sponsoring Senate Bill 736, which would require car drivers and passengers to wait to open their doors until a cyclist or other car has passed. Petersen said his bill received some ridicule, but drivers should be aware that “often times a bike or another car can hit that car door and an accident can ensue.”
If the bill becomes law, a violation could lead to a $100 fine. Petersen’s bill last week passed the Senate, 23-17. It has been referred to the House Transportation Committee.
Reeves proposed Senate Bill 1060, which would make it illegal for a driver to follow too closely to a cyclist. The passing distance would also be increased to 3 feet, as it is in 21 other states. (Current Virginia law specifies 2 feet.)
Reeves said an extra foot may not seem like a lot, but most cyclists are hit by a car’s mirror. On Tuesday, the Senate passed SB 1060 on a vote of 30-9.
“I think it’s going to make Virginia more bicycle friendly,” Reeves said. “More and more people in our more urban areas are using bicycles to get around.”
Lopez has proposed a similar measure, House Bill 1950. It would prohibit the driver of a motor vehicle from following mopeds, bikes and other non-motorized vehicles too closely. The House Transportation Committee voted 20-1 for the bill; it is now before the full House.
“Saving lives on bicycles is the right thing to do,” Lopez said. “Last year, over 600 people in Virginia got hurt on a bicycle because of an accident, and 10 people died.” In eight of the fatalities, he said, the cyclist was hit from behind.
Champe Burnley, president of the Virginia Bicycling Federation, says there should be no debate over whether such legislation passes. “Making it safe for a child to bike to school, safe for a mother to cycle to the market for a gallon of milk, safe for someone to leave the car at home to work on a bicycle is simply common-sense public policy,” he said.
About Bicycle Action Day
Here’s what Michael Gilbert, co-founder of RideRichmond, said about Bicycle Action Day:
“These are non-partisan issues. They are safety issues – and honestly, issues of liberty and freedom of choice.
“If I choose to see our beautiful commonwealth by bike, or ride to the battlefields near Pocahontas State Park by bike, I think citizens should be able to do so without fear of someone running into them from behind, or flinging a car door open leaving them no time to react. …
“A healthy city is a diverse city, and a diverse city offers transportation options to its citizens. We realized that we're an organization that is here to advocate and educate cyclists, and we're based in the capital of Virginia. Why not leverage that and help explain why these laws are important to legislators so that cyclists across the commonwealth can benefit?”
How they voted
Here is how senators voted Tuesday on “SB 1060 Following too closely; includes bicycles, mopeds, etc., increases minimum clearance.”
The bill passed on a vote of 30-Y, 9-N.
YEAS – Alexander, Barker, Blevins, Colgan, Deeds, Ebbin, Edwards, Favola, Hanger, Herring, Howell, Locke, Lucas, Marsden, McDougle, McEachin, McWaters, Miller, Newman, Norment, Northam, Petersen, Puckett, Puller, Reeves, Saslaw, Smith, Stosch, Vogel, Wagner – 30.
NAYS – Carrico, Garrett, Marsh, Martin, Obenshain, Ruff, Stanley, Stuart, Watkins – 9.
NOT VOTING – Black – 1.
Canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts soon will have a new access point to the Chickahominy River. VDOT, the James River Association and Henrico County Parks and Recreation are teaming up to establish a new site in Eastern Henrico.
The James River Association negotiated the deal with VDOT to procure official access to the area located just east of I-295 on North Airport Road in Sandston. The site includes a park-and-ride commuter lot bordering the Chickahominy River and has been an unofficial launch site used by paddlers for years. > Read more.
Citizen Staff Reports 07/04/2014
Henrico equestrians interested in deepening the bond between themselves and their horses have the opportunity to attend a two day clinic, held at Steppin’ High Stables on July 7-8 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The clinic, “Become Partners with your Horse,” will be taught by multiple world champion equestrienne Terry Preiser and will focus on how riders and horses can work together to achieve more. > Read more.
Citizen Staff Reports 07/03/2014
The Henrico-based Hephaestus Society recently awarded its first annual community heroes award (the Hephaestus Award) to Hicham Elgharouch (pictured, center) for what it termed his "selfless acts of caring" in his duties as a Henrico County Public Schools bus driver. Henrico County Director of Pupil Transportation Josh Davis, joined Hephaestus Society President Travis Gardner, in presenting the award and an accompanying $1,500 check to Elgharouch last month.
Elgharouch was selected for his clear and demonstrated patience and for his infectious positive attitude, according to the society. > Read more.
Grab the kids and check out these fun family-friendly events taking place this weekend! Speed over to the Henrico Theatre for the film “Turbo” or watch “Dumbo” under the stars at Clarke-Palmore House Museum. Little ones can meet Thomas the Tank Engine at CMOR-Central or play at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
Don’t party too hard on the Fourth because a whole weekend of fun events await! Enjoy a classy date night without the kids at James River Cellars Winery’s second annual Smoke and Vine Festival. Another date night option is at the Richmond Funny Bone, where comedian April Macie will perform all weekend. The kids have their own options this weekend as well. Choose from storytime at Tuckahoe and Twin Hickory libraries or family-oriented karaoke at Aunt Sarah’s Pancake House – I hear they have hits from Disney’s “Frozen.” For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.
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