New bicycle laws take effect July 1

Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 6:07 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Whether you are behind the wheel of a car or on a bicycle, new laws hitting the books in two weeks will change the way you operate out on the roads.

Earlier this year, the Virginia General Assembly passed two new laws aimed at improving bicycle safety across the Commonwealth.

“There’s a lot of excitement about seeing the General Assembly take a bold move to allow bicyclists to have more freedom and to enjoy the riding experience more,” said Virginia Bicycling Federation President Brantley Tyndall.

The Virginia Bicycling Federation believes these new laws will reduce the number of crashes between vehicles and bicyclists.

In 2020, the Virginia DMV reported 560 bicycle crashes with eight fatalities. Those numbers are down from 2019 where there were more than 650 crashes with 13 deaths.

“It is a little bit shocking to see how many people don’t notice bikers on the roads,” said bicyclist Laura Folsom.

It is an issue the Virginia Bicycling Federation took to state lawmakers, pushing for new laws.

“Where they have been implemented across the country, they have prevented crashes and saved lives,” Tyndall said.

Five other states have similar laws like the two new ones being enforced in Virginia starting July 1.

“[They] will require drivers to change lanes to pass a bicyclist and dovetailing with that, will allow bicyclists to continue to stay two abreast,” Tyndall said.

Currently, bicyclists are allowed to ride side by side in a single lane but must move into a single line when a car is trying to pass.

The new law will also allow drivers to get by groups quicker.

“It’s a really great improvement for family riding in particular; where a parent riding with a kid or someone with minimal riding experience can have someone with a wider berth and little more protection.”

“Makes me feel a lot more protected knowing that these laws will protect me and allow me to ride through the city more freely,” said bicyclist Randy Stallings.

However, bicyclists and drivers add this is a team effort to ensure everyone stays safe.

“Being aware of your surroundings, just checking obviously, looking both ways if you are crossing a road,” Folsom said.

Law enforcement has jumped on board to spread the news as well. Over the weekend, Fairfax County Police pushed out a message on social media about the new laws.

Share the road: There are two new laws hitting the books on July 1, 2021. Motorists will be required to change lanes,...

Posted by Fairfax County Police Department on Saturday, June 12, 2021

“We recognize it will take a little bit of time and we look forward to everyone’s participation to help with that effort,” Tyndall said. “I think all road users in Virginia could get a little bit better and it’s incumbent for all of us to save lives and prevent crashes.”

“Definitely want to protect yourself out there and keep yourself safe,” Stallings added.

The laws will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. July 1.

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