Many of us have made the switch from cars to bikes in order to improve our physical health and reduce our carbon footprint. Unfortunately, all too often, that switch comes with a drastically increased risk of personal injury due to being struck by passing vehicles. If the California legislature were to follow in Virginia’s footsteps and propose a Bicycle Safety Act, it would go a long way to ensure the safety of our state’s cyclists.
What does Virginia’s Act do?
The Bicycle Safety Act hasn’t been passed into law in Virginia yet – it’s still proposed legislation. But it’s making progress through the state’s senate, and will likely become law later this year.
In Virginia, drivers have been technically legally required to give cyclists three feet of clearance in order to pass them. But this law was difficult to enforce, since a car passing a cyclist in the same lane would rarely be able to give the full three feet of clearance, and drivers mostly ignored this requirement.
If the proposed Bicycle Safety Act becomes law, it will require Virginia drivers to change lanes in order to pass cyclists on the road. This lane change would guarantee the mandated three feet of clearance between the passing car and a cyclist in the right lane.
How a similar law would help California cyclists
Requiring a car to change lanes in order to pass you on your bike would solve many problems that often result in cyclist injuries or death. For starters, it would ensure a safe distance between the car and you every time they pass, which would drastically reduce the number of passing cars that clip or rear-end cyclists.
In addition, this required lane change would allow you and another cyclist to ride side-by-side in a lane. This is because you wouldn’t have to worry about a car coming up from behind you and trying to pass you in the same lane, so you would be able to take advantage of the full space in the lane.
Allowing you more space to maneuver within a lane would also cut down on dooring injuries, since you won’t be forced to ride right up alongside parked cars – which could open a door unexpectedly at any moment and strike you as you pass on your bike.
If the California legislature proposes a Bicycle Safety Act, it would be a simple step with immense consequences. With such a law in place, Californians like you would be able to make the switch to the more eco-friendly choice of cycling without risking serious injury by doing so.