Saturday, February 11, 2017

Action Alert: Support Pro-Bike Bills in the Virginia House of Delegates

Update: On February 15, the Criminal Laws Subcommittee of the House Court of Justice Committee tabled (killed) SB 1339 on an unrecorded party line vote, while on February 13 Subcommittee #1 of the House Transportation Committee killed SB 1338 on a 3-4 vote.  Thus, both bills are now dead for 2017.  Delegate Rich Anderson (R, HD-51) helped kill SB 1338, while the three Republicans listed below (Delegates Dave Albo, Todd Gilbert, and Jackson Miller) helped kill SB 1339.  Ask these legislators to support future legislation to better protect pedestrians and bicyclists from irresponsible motorists. 

Two bicycling-friendly bills, filed for the 2017 Virginia General Assembly by Senator Scott Surovell of Northern Virginia (D, Senate District 36), were passed by the Virginia Senate and are now before the Virginia House of Delegates.  

SB 1338 would establish a traffic infraction when a motorist drives in a bicycle lane to pass or attempt to pass another vehicle.  (This bill also generally prohibits motor-vehicle and moped travel in a bicycle lane for the first time).   The Virginia Senate passed SB 1338 on a 23-17 vote, with only four Republicans voting in favor.

SB 1339 would establish a traffic infraction when a careless or distracted motorist is the proximate cause of serious physical injury to a pedestrian, bicyclist, or other “vulnerable road user”, as defined in this bill.   The Virginia Senate passed SB 1339 on a 21-19 vote, with only two Republicans voting in favor.

On Monday, both SB 1338 and SB 1339 were heard by the seven-member Subcommittee #1 of the House Transportation Committee.   As recorded here, Subcommittee #1 failed to report SB 1338 to the full House Transportation Committee on a 3-4 vote.  Thus, unless someone (such as Del. Anderson) who voted against reporting SB 1338 changes his mind and asks that SB 1338 be reconsidered in the full Transportation Committee, SB 1338 is now dead.  If SB 1338 is miraculously resurrected I will update this post.

Subcommittee #1 recommended that SB 1339 be referred to the House Courts of Justice Committee, so SB 1339 is still alive.  The Courts of Justice Committee meets on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons, so SB 1339 may go before that committee in a few days.

The House Courts of Justice Committee members from Northern Virginia are listed below.  Please call or email one or more of these delegates as soon as possible to ask them to support SB 1339.

Del. Dave Albo (Chair), R, HD-42 (Springfield), 804-698-1042,
Del. Jackson Miller, R, HD-50 (Manassas), 804-698-1050,
Del. Vivian Watts, D, HD-39 (Annandale), 804-698-1039,
Del. Charniele Herring, D, HD-46 (Alexandria), 804-698-1046,
Del. Patrick Hope, D, HD-47 (Arlington), 804-698-1047,
Del. Paul Krizek, D, HD-44 (Mount Vernon), 804-698-1044,
Del. Todd Gilbert, R, HD-15 (Woodstock), 804-698-1015,

A short and simple request to support SB 1339 should suffice.  Please include your home address and contact information, so they know you are a constituent or live near their district.  Here’s a sample message:


Subject: Support SB 1339

Dear Delegate xxxxxxxxx,

Please vote for SB 1339, which was just referred to the House Courts of Justice Committee.   SB 1339 would hold a careless or distracted motorist accountable when his or her negligence causes serious injury to a pedestrian, bicyclist, or other “vulnerable road user”.

As a [name of county] resident, I would greatly appreciate your support for this simple and straightforward traffic-law improvement, to help make me and my family safer when we travel by foot or bicycle.  Thank you for your consideration.


Your Name
Your Street Address
Your City, VA Zipcode