New law pertaining to motorists takes effect Thursday

Published 6:10 pm Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles wants residents to be aware of a new law, effective July 1, that requires motorists to change lanes when passing a bicyclist if the lane of travel is not wide enough to accommodate three feet in distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle.

Current law allows, but does not require, a motorist to move into the other lane when passing a bicyclist in order to ensure at least three feet of distance between the bicyclist and the overtaking vehicle. In addition to bicycles, this provision also applies to people riding on an electric personal assistive mobility device, moped, animal or animal-drawn vehicle.

“This law increases safety for bicyclists by providing more space between them and much larger vehicles when motorists pass on our roadways,” said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “We all share our roads and we all share the responsibility to look out for each other.”

The new law also removes restrictions on bicyclists riding two abreast. This provision applies to people riding on an electric personal assistive mobility devices or motorized skateboards or scooters.