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Bike Bill Bust: Virginia is for Swinging Car Doors

Subcommittee votes down penalty for opening a car door that injures a passing cyclist.

Subcommittee votes down penalty for opening a car door that injures a passing cyclist. Patch file photo.
Subcommittee votes down penalty for opening a car door that injures a passing cyclist. Patch file photo.
A bill has failed in the Virginia House that would have created a $50 fine for swinging a car door open into traffic lanes — an action known to cause dangerous collisions with passing cyclists.

The bill, SB225, was defeated 4-3 in a House transportation subcommittee. It was the second attempt by Northern Virginia legislator Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax City, after a similar bill failed in 2013.

What do you think? Should a parking driver be fined for opening a car door as bikes are trying to pass? Tell us in the comments!

As The Washington Post notes in a report, these collisions are typically reported as "no fault," making it difficult for injured cyclists to file medical insurance claims.

Another bike safety bill did make it through a subcommittee vote Monday: SB97 would increase the minimum distance between a passing driver and a cyclist or moped driver. If approved, the distance required goes from 2 feet to 3 feet. 

Sponsored by Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania), with support by Petersen, the bill was approved by the subcommittee in a 5-2 vote.
Jimmy J. February 25, 2014 at 12:50 PM
I think its the responsibility of both the driver and biker to always pay attention. I find it be somewhat unfair in what essentially in most cases boils down to one word vs another that the blame would automatically shift to the driver. I believe in DC that is the case in such incidents.
Phillip Cide February 25, 2014 at 03:50 PM
Just curious. Who is at fault if a driver opens a car door and a moving car hits it?
Ignatius J. Reilly February 25, 2014 at 05:12 PM
Huh, what? Oh sorry, didn't see you there, I was on my phone.
Kasha Williamson February 26, 2014 at 06:40 PM
How is a cyclist supposed to be able to see if someone is in the car about to open their door? Whereas someone in their car can do a quick lookback to ensure it is safe to open - just as they would if a car was coming.

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