By MELINDA WILLIAMS
Passing motorists will have to leave a little more distance between their vehicle and bikes, mopeds and some other forms of transportation on Virginia roads come July 1.
Senate Bill 97, passed by lawmakers in the 2014 General Assembly session, increases from two to three feet the minimum clearance between a passing vehicle and a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, moped, animal or animal-drawn vehicle.
According to the Virginia Bicycle Federation (VBF), Virginia is the 21st state to pass the three-foot passing law. Only Pennsylvania requires more distance — four feet.
It’s hoped increasing the distance will reduce the number of bicycle fatalities on the commonwealth’s roads. Eight people were killed and over 600 were injured in bicycle crashes on state roads during 2013, according to Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
“As we see more people choose to ride bikes or walk rather than drive their cars, this extra foot of clearance makes streets much safer for cyclists. We hope that drivers will use extra care when they pass a rider and avoid potential crashes,” said Champe Burnley, VBF president.