Virginia’s Three-Foot Passing Bill is a Victory

Biking on Blue Grass Valley Road

On March 8, the Virginia General Assembly passed SB97, the three-foot passing bill. We are happy to report that this bill, the first pro-bike legislation in recent Virginia history, has passed.

SB97 is one of a few pro-bicycling bills in Virginia that WABA tracked and supported this legislative session, and the only one to pass. It requires vehicles to give three feet of space when passing bicyclists. This is an improvement over the current two feet.

There is a final step: Governor Terry McAuliffe has to sign the bill into law. We expect him to do this in the next two to three months.

The bill first passed the Senate Transportation Committee by a vote of 13 to one on January 15. It passed the full Senate by a vote of 31 to seven on Jan. 21. It then crossed over to the House, where the House Transportation Subcommittee #2 passed to by a vote of 52 on Feb. 24. On Feb. 27, the House Transportation Committee passed the bill by a vote of 16 to six. Finally, on March 5, the full House voted 72 to 27 to pass the bill. The full legislative records of SB97 are available online.

WABA, in coordination with the Virginia Bicycling Federation, provided strong support for SB97. We worked to get the word out about the bill, and Virginia residents responded in kind. Virginians sent over 1,800 letters to their legislators to support pro-bike legislation. In both the House and Senate, there was strong bike-partisan support for SB97. With the governor’s approval of this bill, Virginia will join 22 other states that already have a three-foot passing law in place. SB97 fixes one of the major differences in bicycling laws in the Washington area, bringing Virginia law in line with laws in Maryland and Washington, D.C.

Thank you to the WABA members and supporters who fought for the passage of this bill. There were several other bicycling-related bills that did not pass in Virginia this year, and we will keep up the fight to improve conditions for cycling in the year to come.

See how your representatives voted on this bill and the other bike-related bills below the jump.

House of Delegate Voting Record

If you don’t know who your state representatives are, use our easy legislator look-up tool to find out.

Senate Voting Record

Photo by Flickr user Arbogast Inn