New Law Aims to Reduce Bicycle Injuries

June 27, 2014

Starting July 1st drivers will have to change the way they pass bicyclists on the road.

Currently, state law requires drivers to give at least two feet of space between a bicyclist and their car on the road but those rules are changing.

There has been a push to make Charlottesville a more bicycle friendly city, so just three months ago the city re-designed Rose Hill Drive, adding bike lanes.

The new lanes create a buffer between cyclists and moving cars, something bicyclists are happy about.

"Being able to immediately implement some safety rules with the infrastructure that we currently have people feel like we don't have to wait three years down the road for all this development to happen," says Justin Matijasic, a bicycle mechanic for Blue Ridge Cyclery.

Now statewide changes are on the way to help better protect anyone on a road.

Starting July First instead of having to give bicyclists two feet of clearance drivers will now have to give three feet of clearance.

"If a large flat sided truck will pass you, the wind will swirl and pull you into the vehicle and then spit you out towards the side of the road once it passes. When you get three feet away you start to get out of that little wind buffer zone," says Matijasic.

"I think it's great. I hope that it's effective. I think the biggest thing is going to be making drivers aware of the three feet law," says Brian Mccauley, a local bicyclist.

As drivers hit the road Tuesday they'll have to make more room or just simply drive a safe distance behind a bicyclist until it's clear to pass, something many drivers say is worth it the end.

"With so many distracted drivers on the road a wider berth for unprotected cyclists prevents what are potentially life threatening injuries," says Jim Kalergis, an Albemarle County resident.

Some drivers on the other hand say the new law will only cause more problems.

"Two feet of clearance I think is enough. If you're going to make it three it's just going to increase traffic," says Samuel Jones.


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