The Virginia House of Delegates will likely vote on Friday, Feb.

12, or Monday, Feb 15, on House Bill 1048: The Bill has two provision. One would prohibit motorists from following a bicycle too closely. The other provision would extend the minimum clearance when passing a bicycle from 2 feet to 3 feet. The provision regarding passing clearance is meeting significant opposition. The Bill was favorably reported out of committee yesterday by a very narrow margin of 11 in favor, 10 against. This legislation is very significant for cyclists. There are a number of reasons why the minimum clearance should be 3 feet. The passing motor vehicle can create air turbulence causing the cyclist to become unbalanced and to be drawn toward the passing vehicle. The cyclist may swerve to avoid a road obstruction, such as gravel or glass, which is unseen to the motorist. It is sometimes difficult for a cyclist to hold a straight line, particularly when climbing a hill. Also, and very significantly, it is difficult for a driver to know with accuracy the position of the right side of his or her vehicle on the roadway. Some drivers seem to have extremely poor spacial perception. The driver may think he or she is two feet from the cyclist, but in fact is on a collision course. Also, mirrors are wider than other parts of a vehicle and a trailer may be wider than the vehicle towing it. Drivers often forget about that. Sixteen states (Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin) and the District of Columbia have already adopted a 3-foot minimum clearance, and bills are currently pending in several other states that would require it. The League of American Bicyclists has established a 3-foot passing clearance as one criterion in determining whether a state is “bicycle friendly.” Virginia is currently ranked in the middle, 23, among states in being bicycle friendly. There is a quality of life, economic development argument in support of passage. Quality of life is increasing important in determining where businesses and young professionals locate. However, the primary reason passage of this bill is critical is for the safety of cyclists. Eleven Virginia cyclists were fatally stuck by motor vehicles in 2009. Please contact your Delegate today and urge passage of HB 1048. Include some of the above, or your own, reasons why you consider passage to be critical. See the following link to find out who your Delegate is and obtain contact information: We can make a difference. Please help.

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