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Shocking bike accident causes VDOT to alter bridge policy

More and more people across the state of Virginia have elected to make a bicycle their primary mode of transportation. While this is certainly understandable given the environmental and financial benefits, this decision is not without certain risks as motorists often consciously ignore or simply fail to see the bicyclists with whom they must share the road.

In light of this reality, a growing number of bicyclists have started mounting video cameras to their helmets or bike frames as a means of protecting themselves in the event of an accident or sharing footage of near misses to raise awareness.

Interestingly enough, a bicyclist in Norfolk was able to record footage of her collision with a vehicle this past weekend. While this may not seem especially noteworthy, consider that the accident actually occurred on a pedestrian bridge.   

According to the bicyclist, she was biking toward downtown Norfolk in the caged pedestrian/bike lane of the Berkley Bridge this past Saturday when a sport utility vehicle materialized virtually out of nowhere.

"I saw this vehicle," said the woman. "Oh, my God. Brake, scream, when I realized I was hitting him. There was no way to stop it."

Fortunately, the woman suffered only minor injuries in the crash, which was caused by a contract employee for the Virginia Department of Transportation working as a bridge tender.

However, she later learned, after some confusion about which law enforcement agency had jurisdiction over the matter, that VDOT actually permits its vehicles to traverse the pedestrian bridge during shift changes and that there were signs posted to that effect.

In an about face, however, VDOT announced earlier this week that it was officially and immediately changing this policy on the Berkley Bridge.

"VDOT has modified procedures for access to the bridge, which restrict bridge tenders from utilizing vehicles for shift changes," read a statement. "Bridge tenders must now walk or utilize a motorized cart. When a vehicle is required, it will be accompanied by a walking spotter to identify any potential safety issues."

It is certainly reassuring to see VDOT enact the necessary policy changes, as doing so will surely prevent future bicycle accidents or pedestrian accidents. However, the question remains as to whether these changes perhaps need to be expanded to cover other situations where people may be put at unnecessary risk.

Stay tuned for updates ...

Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if the actions of a reckless motorist have caused a car accident, bicycle accident or pedestrian accident in which you suffered serious and debilitating personal injuries.

Source: WVEC, "VDOT changes policy after cyclist and SUV collide on Berkley pedestrian bridge," June 16, 2014

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