New law lets motorcyclists ride side by side
Motorcyclists are eager to legally burn rubber side by side now that Gov. Bob McDonnell has signed legislation permitting them to ride two abreast in a single driving lane in Virginia.
House Bill 97, sponsored by Delegate Tony Wilt of Harrisonburg, allows two-wheeled motorcycles to drive alongside each other in one lane. Current state law prohibits motorcyclists from doing that; violators may be charged with reckless driving.
HB 97, which McDonnell signed into law on Feb. 28, will take effect July 1.
“The bill allows riders to use their own judgment in determining when it is appropriate to ride beside someone, but does not require them to do so,” said Wilt, a Republican who has served in the House since 2010.
“One goal is to eliminate the harsh punishment placed on riders for doing something as innocent as pulling aside another rider while stopped or taking off together after being stopped.”
The American Motorcycle Association frequently hears complaints from out-of-state riders about Virginia’s prohibition against two-abreast riding.
“When our members and even non-members have ridden in Virginia, some of them have received citations for riding side by side at some of the major events that occur in Virginia,” said Imre Szauter, the association’s government relations manager.
“Where they come from, it is perfectly legal to do so.”
It’s perfectly legal almost everywhere. Virginia will become the 49th state to accommodate two-abreast riding. Vermont remains the only state to prohibit the practice.
“Riding two abreast is already allowed in 48 of the 50 states,” Wilt noted. “In 2010, the Virginia General Assembly extended this privilege to law enforcement officers on duty. I saw no reason why it should not be extended to everyone.”
HB 97 was approved 87-10 in the House of Delegates and 38-2 in the Senate in mid-February.
Safety was a concern. Opponents believe side by side riding is dangerous, especially if riders must suddenly swerve to avoid a road hazard.
However, no one has come up with data to prove that two-abreast riding causes an increase in traffic accidents or injuries, Szauter said.
“In the absence of statistics that indicate this is blatantly unsafe, it’s just another reason to somehow harass motorcyclists for something they don’t believe is an issue,” Szauter said.
“If there are circumstances where riding side by side is appropriate, and it can be done in a safe manner, we believe that the code should be modified. And that’s exactly what happened with this legislation.”
When riding side by side, it’s vital for motorcycle operators to communicate. Some riders use predetermined hand signals. Motorcyclists may need to speak to each other in advance to determine their plan of action.
A benefit of riding side by side is that motorcyclists also can signal each other on the road.
“It is often helpful for riders to be able to pull beside each other to communicate information – for instance, if they need to stop,” Wilt said. “This legislation allows them to do so.”
Citizen Staff Reports 12/01/2016
The project:HOMES "Renew Crew" (above) recently assisted an elderly member of the Laurel Presbyterian Church in Henrico by clearing brush, trimming hedges and raking leaves in her yard.
The Renew Crew serves low-income, disabled and elderly homeowners in need of small-scale home repairs such as porch, railing and step repairs, exterior painting, clearing overgrown yards, tearing down outbuildings, wheelchair ramps and other critical repairs and accessibility modifications. > Read more.
More than 2,000 people participated in the the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Richmond Chapter's annual Richmond Walk to End Alzheimer’s Nov. 5 at Markel Plaza in Innsbrook. The event raised more than $436,000 for Alzheimer’s care, support programs and research.
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The past couple of days haven’t felt like it, but it’s finally December and this weekend is packed with holiday events. Kicking the weekend off is Glorious Christmas Nights’ production of “Finding Christmas” at West End Assembly of God. Gayton Baptist Church’s annual Jazz Nativity starts tonight. Another annual favorite is tomorrow – the tree lighting at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen. In search of Christmas concerts? The Virginians Barbershop Chorus will present its annual Christmas Show tomorrow at the Collegiate School and the Richmond Choral Society will perform Sunday at Trinity Lutheran Church. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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CalendarThe Shops at Willow Lawn’s community event Mommy & Me and Daddy Too continues with Chris Campbell: Music for Kids from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Enjoy a morning out with live entertainment, crafts, games and programs designed to enhance parent's interaction with their children. The program continues on the second Wednesday of each month. Admission is free. For details, visit http://www.willowlawn.com. Full text