Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition reminds drivers of new bike safety laws

Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 6:23 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Many new laws went into effect in Virginia July 1, including two hoping to make the roads safer for bicyclists, but some people in Valley have not noticed much of a difference yet.

The new laws require motorists to change lanes to pass cyclists even if that means crossing a solid yellow line, and bicyclists can now ride two abreast, or side by side in a lane.

Kyle Lawrence is the executive director of the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition. He says some drivers may not be aware of the new laws and feels in the next year they will see improvement.

“We do have really friendly people on the roads and out in the county where people are used to slow-moving vehicles like tractors and horse and buggies, so we’re in a good place to ride a bike as it is, but we do think that riding two abreast and cars needing to change lanes will make that even safer,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence says the region has seen an increase in bicyclists over the last decade and especially after the pandemic.

“The more people who are riding bikes, the safer it is to ride on the roads,” Lawrence said. “I think simplifying the messaging and giving drivers to catch up with [the new laws] is really important.”

While the two new laws are an important step for bicycle safety, Lawrence says there was a third piece that was initially proposed but not passed in the last General Assembly session called the ‘Safety Stop.’ Lawrence says bicycle safety advocates will bring that to lawmakers again.

“That is to allow bicyclists to treat a stop sign as a yield sign,” Lawrence said. “You wouldn’t be able to ride through an intersection but it would decrease the amount of time someone on a bike has to be in a dangerous position at an intersection. It would help speed people through certain sections, so long as there weren’t cars present.”

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