Petersen’s bike safety bill dies

February 12, 2013

State Sen. Chap Petersen’s bike safety bill has met the fate of an unlucky cyclist in a bike-vs.-car collision: instant death.

Petersen had proposed legislation directing people not to open their car doors into the path of cyclists or any other traffic. Because there is no law against “dooring,” insurance companies often refuse to cover injured cyclists because no one is found to be at fault.

The bill cleared the full Senate but died Tuesday in a 7-7 vote of the House Transportation Committee. Petersen’s office issued a release titled: “Petersen’s bicycle safety bill hits House Transportation Committee: Does not survive.”

“This was a good bill that would have improved safety for both motorists and cyclists,” Petersen said in the release.

Petersen said 40 states, including Alaska, have similar laws.

“You’re more likely to hit a moose than a bicycle in Alaska,” Petersen said. “I’m troubled as to why some people don’t want this safety law in Virginia.”

Some committee members opposed to the bill expressed concern that young children who open their car doors without looking could be cited for a traffic infraction, punishable by a fine of up to $100. Petersen said it would not apply to anyone under the age of 14.

Petersen’s measure was supported by the Independent Insurance Agents of Virginia, the Virginia Bicycling Federation and Richmond 2015 World Cycling Championships.

Laura Vozzella covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.
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