New bicycle laws take effect in Virginia on July 1st

Sharing the road could be the difference between life and death

The rules of the road are changing in the Commonwealth on July 1 whether you're on a bike or driving a car.

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Two new laws are adding an extra layer of safety for cyclists across the Commonwealth.

“I had a good friend … who was killed about 10 years ago here on the road; so it’s become very important for us,” said Brad Malcolm, a Lynchburg cyclist.

“Some people don’t have the leisure of having a vehicle. Some people only have a bike,” said John Seinar, owner of Bikes Unlimited in Downtown Lynchburg.

Beginning July 1st, drivers are required to change lanes when passing cyclists unless the lane is exceptionally wide.

Also, two bike riders are allowed to travel side-by-side without having to form single line when a vehicle approaches.

Seinar says, right now, it can be hazardous for riders.

“There’s a lot going on. People drive fast, the infrastructure isn’t made for cycling around these parts, so it’s very dangerous,” said Seinar.

The Virginia Bicycling Federation says new rules will cut down on crashes and deaths.

“We want to make sure that we are looking towards life-saving and crash-preventing policies that have worked elsewhere and look forward to this change taking effect July first,” said Brantley Tyndall, president of the Virginia Bicycling Federation.

What about riders in bike lanes?

“They are their own special lane, so the change-lane-surpass requirement would not require a driver to do anything different than today,” said Tyndall.

Sharing the road could be the difference between life and death.

“That 30 seconds, or 10 or 15 seconds, that it takes to pass a cyclist or group of cyclists isn’t worth somebody’s life,” said Seinar.

About the Author:

Tim Harfmann joined the 10 News team in September 2020 and works at the station's Lynchburg bureau.