New bike laws in Commonwealth take effect July 1

Posted at 8:51 AM, Jun 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-29 08:51:03-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Norfolk resident Travis Davidson has been biking on the city streets of Norfolk for years, but he is always overly cautious before hitting the pedal.

"Every time I am on the bike on a roadway, I'm thinking of car doors opening in front of me, cars pulling out, turning in front of me, cars not seeing me," he said.

Davidson, also on the board of Bike Norfolk, is thankful that on July 1, new laws that change the way motorists must operate on the roads when they encounter a cyclist hit the books.

"Currently, cars would give three feet to pass, but they would move over too quickly and they were not quite past the biker, and you can hit their front wheel and it's really bad," he said.

The new law now says drivers have to change lanes when safe in order to pass a biker entirely - even if that means crossing over a double yellow line.

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

"We all move over when police officers are stopping someone on side of road, and we should do the same for bicyclists," said Davidson.

The second change is that bikers are now allowed to ride two abreast, meaning they are able to ride side by side in one lane. Currently, they have to move into a single line when a car is trying to pass.

"This is going to be really helpful when riding with a large group or with children," said Davidson.

According to the Virginia DMV, in 2020, they reported 560 bike crashes with eight fatalities.

Related: With warmer weather comes more cycling collisions, cycling and law enforcement communities say

"We are not the first to try these laws. The stats show they are out there these laws make things safer," he said.

Five other states have similar laws like the ones that will take effect in the Commonwealth this week.

"Getting the word out and citizens knowing about them and police enforcing them will make riding so much safer in the City of Norfolk and state of Virginia," said Davidson.