Proposed bill aimed at protecting bicyclists

By Ben Garbarek - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - You don't have to look long to see someone riding a bicycle around Richmond and a bill proposed in the General Assembly could change the way you deal with cyclists on the road.

Right now if you're passing a cyclist while driving, by law you have to give two feet of space between your car and the bike. This new law would give bicyclists an extra foot of space on the road.

For Fan residents like Ben Ammons, he's used to seeing bicyclists in his neighborhood and thinks the two feet of space for bicycles mandated by the current law is just fine.

"The two feet was enough," he said.  "Any driver that has enough wherewithal is going to try and dodge the biker and slow down for him but still, there's all these sidewalks so it might be unnecessary."

A new law currently in the House transportation committee would require drivers to give bikes three feet of space, instead of two, when passing.

Expanding the buffer zone between cyclists and drivers sounds good in theory to many people we spoke to today, but they did say they see one potential problem with this bill.

"The difference between two feet and three feet is (not much)," said Mike Doherty. "How would you enforce that?"

Kirk O'Brien rides his bike every day. He says he's had many close calls riding his bike in The Fan for 25 years and has even been hit by a car twice. He says an extra foot would help but many drivers already disregard the two-foot rule.

"The two-foot law isn't enforced," he said.  "I don't see the three-foot law being enforced either."

Ramon Zabala rides his bike in The Fan occasionally. He says he doesn't know how drivers would make sure they're following the rules.

"I really don't think that makes much of a difference," he said.  "I don't carry a yardstick around when I'm driving."

This bill also requires drivers not to tailgate bicycles, mopeds and electric-powered bikes in addition to other motor vehicles.

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