Each year, the Virginia Bicycle Federation watches for bills that might affect bicycling and walking in Virginia, bills that could make it safer and easier or more dangerous and difficult to bicycle and walk. RIDE Solutions reports on the bills that the Virginia Bicycle Federation is watching. This article is for informational purposes; RIDE Solutions neither endorses nor opposes proposed legislation. You can find more information and track these bills at http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/
As the 2019 legislative session begins, just four bills of interest to the Virginia Bicycle Federation have been filed, but we expect many more. The hot topic this year, like the last couple years, has been distracted driving. Virginia law prohibits texting and driving, and each year sees several attempts to increase the ban from texting to other uses of smart phones and other distractions. Bicyclists and pedestrians are at greater risk of injury or death from all traffic crashes. Less distracted driving could mean safer roads for everyone.
Last year, a ban on driving while using a handheld device passed both the House and the Senate but failed to conform in the committee that irons out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. Probably a dozen variants of distracted driving bills were filed last year which failed at some point in the process or were combined into the ones that made it almost all the way to the end.
So far this year we have HB1811, a ban on the use of handheld personal communications devices while driving.
Two other bills of interest are basically administrative tweaks:
- Adding the Town of Ashland to the list of localities that may provide signs at crosswalks requiring drivers to yield to pedestrians (HB1648)
- Adding “other power-driven mobility devices” to list of vehicles allowed on sidewalks (HB1786)
The fourth bill of interest, HB1913, would allow localities to require sidewalks in their subdivision ordinances.