Virginia enacts law governing bicyclists sharing roads with cars

Maryland bicyclists find themselves sharing the road with motor vehicles of all types in our urban, suburban, and even many rural areas. As a consequence, Maryland lawmakers routinely find themselves reconsidering what steps might be taken to make our state’s roadways safer and lower the risk of personal injury for bicyclists and motorists alike. The commonwealth of Virginia has enacted new legislation in its 2021 special session that impacts bicyclists and motorists alike.

New Virginia law governing sharing the road

The new Virginia law makes a number of changes regarding roadway travel protocols for bikes and cars. First, the enacted legislation requires a motorist to change lanes when passing a bicycle under certain circumstances. Specifically, if a motor vehicle cannot make a same-lane pass leaving at least three feet between the bicyclist to be overtaken, the car driver must change lanes to legally make the maneuver.

Second, the Virginia law also permits bicyclists to ride two abreast in a lane of traffic. Previously, bicyclists were permitted to ride only in a single file.

Establishment of Department of State Police work group

The recently enacted Virginia law directs the Department of State Police to establish a workgroup to review various issues associated with roadway travel and safety. Among the topics to be reviewed is whether bicyclists should be allowed to treat stop signs as yield signs without increasing a safety risk and an increase in personal injury.

Virginia is at the forefront of changes in regard to bicyclists sharing roadways with motor vehicles. Maryland is among many states that do pay attention to what is occurring in neighboring jurisdictions in regard to statutes and regulations governing the use of public roadways.