Status of Virginia’s legislation and enforcement for biker safety

National report card highlights areas Virginia can improve biker safety.

The League of American Bicyclists recently released its 2019 Bicycle Friendly State Report Cards. These reports provide information on cycling statistics for each state within the country with a goal of making biking a safer and more accessible sport for all. The information is gathered and analyzed by researchers who use data from state and federal agencies.

How did Virginia score on its bicycle safety report card?

Overall, Virginia received a ranking of 9 out of all 50 states.

Researchers with the project review five criteria to determine each state's ranking. Of the five criteria, Virginia received good rankings for its work on infrastructure and funding as well as bicycle policies and future planning. However, one area the state did not do well involves the use of legislation and enforcement to better ensure the safety of bikers. In fact, when the organization reviewed biking fatality rates in Virginia, the state's ranking dropped to 20 out of 50.

What can Virginia do to increase bicycle safety?

One positive step the state has taken was the recent passage of a dooring law. This law made it illegal for a motorist to open their door into the path of an oncoming cyclist. This action, referred to as "dooring," can result in a fine for the motorist.

However, the group encouraged the state to make laws that regulate driver behavior and have clear methods of enforcement. Researchers with this project encouraged Virginia lawmakers to pass distracted driving laws that require the use of a hands-free device to help combat the continued problem of distracted driving. The group also pushed for lawmakers to consider allowance of a photo enforcement system to help better ensure drivers abide by distracted driving laws.

Why does it matter?

Unfortunately, biking accidents in the state are on the rise. The Virginia Department of Transportation reports 670 bicycle crashes in 2017 with a 30% increase in biking fatalities since the previous year. Virginia's Department of Motor Vehicles further reports the number of bicyclist fatalities in the state stayed the same in 2018.

Bike accidents can come with catastrophic injuries. This is particularly true when the accident involves another vehicle. Whether the result of a dooring accident or a collision with a vehicle, it is not uncommon for bikers to sustain serious and even life-threatening injuries. In these situations, compensation to help cover the cost of medical care and lost wages due to the injuries sustained from the accident may be available through a personal injury lawsuit. The attorneys at Crandall and Katt are experienced in this niche area of personal injury law. They can review your case and discuss your options.