New law says move over 3 feet for bicyclists - WNEM TV 5

New law says move over 3 feet for bicyclists

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Starting next week, if you see a bicyclist on the street, you'll need to give them more room or face getting a ticket.

With this new law, State Sen. Bryce Reeves says Virginia is one step closer to bridging a gap between cyclists and motorists and at the same time save lives.

"What this bill is designed to do is decrease fatalities here in Virginia. Making the current clearing of two feet when you overtake a bicyclist just is not far enough away from that bicyclist," Reeves said.

The old law is out the window. Now if you want to pass a bicyclist on Virginia roads, you will have to be at least three feet away from them.

If you are driving on a road with double lines and you encounter a bicycle you want to pass, lawmakers say its illegal to cross those lines. "You must wait until there is a hash mark or it is safe," Reeves said.

Law enforcement plans to monitor motorists, and will issues citations if a driver could clearly move three feet away from a bicyclist without obstacle.

Avid cyclist Sheryl Finucane champions the new law. She has had a few close calls while riding on Virginia roads.

"I've had times where I really felt like a motorist mirror was brushing my shirt sleeve, and that is really an uncomfortable feeling," Finucane said.

Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles statistics show that in 2013, eight people died and more than 600 people were injured in crashes involving bicycles on Virginia roads. Finucane says the law brings the state a step closer to decreasing those numbers. Until that happens, she says she will keep spreading the word and looking over her shoulders.

"It's not just the law. It's also getting the word out about the law," she said.

Motorists in Virginia still have just a few days to familiarize themselves with this new law, which goes into effect on July 1.

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