By Cory Bilton
When people use different modes of transportation on the same path, like when bicyclists and motorists are using the same street, there is going to be some friction between them. The local debate between motorists and bicyclists (and the less vocal pedestrians, too) has heated up in recent weeks. The flames started when a local reporter poured gasoline on an otherwise smoldering fire by comparing bicyclists to terrorists and suggesting that hitting a bicyclist may be worth a $500 fine. There are many political, legal, cultural, and social aspects in this debate (some excellent responses to the reporter’s spiteful suggestions are here and here). But one fact, that is particularly important to me, is that any time a bicyclist is involved in a collision with a motorist, the bicyclist loses.
By Cory Bilton.
When a vehicle driver wants to pass another vehicle, it goes without saying that the passing vehicle has to move his car into another lane to pass. It’s a simple fact: lanes aren’t wide enough to accommodate two cars side by side in one lane. However, it is less clear when a motorist intends to pass a bicyclist. After all, it is possible for a vehicle and a bicyclist to be side by side with in one lane. But just because it’s physically possible doesn’t mean it is safe to do so. So what is a safe distance for a motorist to give a bicyclist?
Starting July 1st, motorists are required to provide at least three feet of passing space to the left of the bicyclist. The new law, SB 97, modifies Virginia Code § 46.2-839 which previously required only two feet of passing space. In addition to bicycles, the new 3 foot minimum passing distance also applies to electric personal mobility devices, electric power-assisted bicycles, mopeds, animals, and animal-drawn vehicles.