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New bike laws impact everyone come July 1

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RICHMOND, Va. --  Edwuan Whitehead is like so many in Richmond who use their bicycles to get around town.

"This is probably one of the biggest bike riding cities I've been in," Whitehead said.

While it may be convenient, it is not necessarily always safe. Whitehead says he was almost hit by a car last week.

"Her side mirror actually closed on my sidearm," Whitehead said. "That is how close she was."

Last year 600 bicyclists were injured and eight died on Virginia roads.

Virginia officials are hoping to improve numbers with a new "three feet passing law" that goes into effect July 1.

Under the law, drivers in vehicles must give at least three feet of room when passing bicyclists.

The traffic infraction will be considered an improper passing violation, which could result in fines, court costs, and three points deducted on a driver's license.

DMV Commissioner Rick Holcomb believes the three feet of room will make a difference.

"We believe it will," Holcomb said.

Holcomb said that law enforcement officers are being trained to properly identify what exactly three feet looks like in a situation that involves a bike and car.

The law, sponsored by Senator Bryce Reeves, was the result of years of lobbying by advocates like the Virginia Bicycling Federation.

"What I hope this does is educate drivers to slow down and don't sneak pass a bicyclist," Champe Burnley,  President of the Virginia Bicycling Federation, said.

Burnley hopes to get "safe following" laws passed in the next General Assembly Session, as well as "dooring" regulations that would prohibit drivers from hitting cyclists when they open their car door.

Both have failed in previous sessions of the General Assembly.






  • CalmStorm

    This reminds me of exactly why Richmond is stuck in the past. One step forward, two steps back–all the time! In civilized cities, bicycle riders are given a part of the road and treated like the commuters that they are, instead of treated with road rage by entitled RVA automobile drivers. Richmond continues to be backwards. So sad.

  • SomeGuyInVA

    What’s the protocol when two bikers are riding side by side, taking up an entire lane so they can chit chat? Drive in the opposing lane?

  • John

    3 feet huh I’m still going to try and clip these bike riders with my mirror. I wish I could just run them all over.

  • BO

    I run and cars almost hit me not paying attention so I would’nt ride bikes despite many people do.I see I’m right not to trust drivers reading this thread.I also believe all the people killed riding bikes are not reported.

  • Nina Oakes

    I always thought roads were built for cars not bicycles & runners….wonder how many more accidents this is going to cause when drivers try to avoid getting “too close”.

  • ADub

    If you are in a car, and you encounter two bikes side by side (which is legal to do under certain conditions), and three feet of clearance would put you over the yellow, then you have to sit and chill to your Slim Whitman CD while waiting for the riders to move into single file, or until you see a dashed center line. Most cyclists should be couterous and move over when there is traffic in those conditions. Where I ride, there are more cows than cars, so I feel safer than riding around RVA…

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