Bicycle Accidents May Increase; Virginia Lawmakers Don’t Widen Passing Distance | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

With today’s temperature in the sixties many people will enjoy riding their bike in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and even Chesapeake, Virginia (VA). Unfortunately that may mean more bike accidents as it appears bicyclists will have to wait at least another year to get more protection in state law from passing cars.

Sen. Ryan McDougal’s bill, SB928, would have widened the minimum passing distance when a car overtakes a bicycle from 2 feet to 3 feet. The measure failed to advance out of a House subcommittee Wednesday.

Bicycle groups say a wider passing distance would provide vulnerable riders an extra measure of protection as a growing number of bicyclists take to the road for recreation and job commuting. Opponents say it would be too much of an imposition on motorists, especially on narrow rural roads.

Bicycle accidents can cause catastrophic injuries or death to cyclists because they ride with no physical protection except a helmet.  An injured rider may face months or years of medical treatment, lost wages, rehabilitation, and permanent disability. 

I’m surprised that lawmakers wouldn’t offer this small measure of protection to bike riders to prevent bike accidents and I hope they reconsider it.  Considering that each year, more than 500,000 people in the US are treated in emergency departments, and more than 700 people die as a result of bicycle-related injuries, reports the CDC.

Remember, after a bicycle accident:

  • Do not fix, repair or dispose of your damaged bicycle without talking to an attorney. Your lawyer may need your bike to help prove your case, also you should photograph the damage to your bicycle and your injuries.
  • Keep your damaged bicycle in a safe and dry place so as not to damage evidence and make your case more difficult.