Montgomery County Council approves plan for bike lanes, trails near Lyttonsville and Purple Line

Last week the Montgomery County Council approved the Lyttonsville Sector Plan, which sets up a framework for how to reorient and rebuild the area once the Purple Line and Capital Crescent Trail are built through it.

image from washcycle.typepad.com

Bicycle Facility map

The Planning Board draft is not much different from the working draft I wrote about 16 months ago, but there are some things relevant to cycling which I don't think I mentioned, or have changed. It also keeps the new language about the Talbot Avenue Bridge. As a refresher, here's a list of all the proposed bicycle facilities

Bikefacilities

Another presentation has this rendering of 16th Street with its separated bicycle lane.

16th

In addition to all of these facilities, they call for new and better bike parking, Capital Bikeshare stations, and better intersections. They also want the whole area to be a Bicycle-Pedestrian Priority Area (BPPA).

Part of the Greater Lyttonsville Sector Plan area was designated as a Bicycle-Pedestrian Priority Area (BPPA) through the 2013 Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan. The area currently designated as a BPPA is west of 16th Street, east of Rosemary Hills Drive and the Spring Center shopping center on 16th Street. The BPPA should be expanded to include the entire Sector Plan area to support the future Purple Line stations and anticipated increase in pedestrian activity within the area.

The plan also calls for a greener Lyttonsville and much of that will benefit cyclists too.

For example, they want the Capital Crescent Trail to be a linear green space and they plan to get there through regulatory requirements for public and common space along the Trail for expanded activity areas, stormwater management and planting buffers. Furthermorehe plan calls for prioritizing street tree planting along connecting streets with bicycle lanes.

Daylighting streams will also create more and greener trails. A section of Donnybrook Stream is currently piped underground parallel to the existing Georgetown Branch trail, and they suggest daylighting it as a public amenity adjacent to the Capital Crescent Trail. They would also like to daylight a long section of Fenwick Branch and build a shaded hard surface park trail connecting to a planned natural surface trail on parkland south of East-West Highway. That trail could be continued to the DC boundary, and from there perhaps to the Rock Creek Park Trail.

Fenwick

 

 

DDOT to present 30% design plans for the Florida Avenue NE improvement project

DDOT is hosting a meeting on the Florida Avenue Multimodal Transportation Project next Tuesday night from 6:30 to 8:00pm

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) invites you to a public meeting Tuesday, February 21, 2017, to provide an update on the preliminary engineering of multimodal transportation improvements along Florida Avenue NE from First Street NE to H Street/Benning Road NE. 

The purpose of this project is to provide streetscape and traffic operational enhancements to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists while ensuring all users have safe access within and through this important corridor. At this meeting, the 30 percent design plans will be shared to further refine the recommendations provided during the final design phase. 

This will be an update on this project which will create a shared use path on the south side of Florida Avenue between 2nd and 3rd Street NE, a shared-use lane (sharrows) under the railroad overpass, and bike lanes in both directions between 3rd Street NE and 8th Street NE. Last March when the report was released, they were still evaluating the inclusion of bike lanes on the section of Florida Avenue between 8th Street NE and West Virginia Avenue. Hopefully they'll make that known on Tuesday.

image from washcycle.typepad.com

Support Virginia bike lane and anti-distracted driver legislation

Two bills designed to make biking safer made it out of the Senate last week and need support to get them out of the heavily Republican House of Delegates.

SB 1338 would prohibit driving in a bicycle lane to pass or attempt to pass another vehicle. The Virginia Senate passed SB 1338 on a 23-17 vote, with only four Republicans voting in favor. Unfortunately,  Subcommittee #1 failed to report SB 1338 to the full House Transportation Committee on a 3-4 vote.  Thus, unless someone (such as Del. Anderson) who voted against reporting SB 1338 changes his mind and asks that SB 1338 be reconsidered in the full Transportation Committee, SB 1338 is now dead. 

SB 1339 would establish a traffic infraction when a careless or distracted motorist is the proximate cause of serious physical injury to a pedestrian, bicyclist, or other “vulnerable road user”, as defined in this bill.   The Virginia Senate passed SB 1339 on a 21-19 vote, with only two Republicans voting in favor.

Subcommittee #1 recommended that SB 1339 be referred to the House Courts of Justice Committee, so SB 1339 is still alive.  The Courts of Justice Committee meets on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons, so SB 1339 may go before that committee in a few days.

The House Courts of Justice Committee members from Northern Virginia are listed below.  Please call or email one or more of these delegates as soon as possible to ask them to support SB 1339.

Del. Dave Albo (Chair), R, HD-42 (Springfield), 804-698-1042, DelDAlbo@house.virginia.gov

Del. Jackson Miller, R, HD-50 (Manassas), 804-698-1050, DelJMiller@house.virginia.gov

Del. Vivian Watts, D, HD-39 (Annandale), 804-698-1039, DelVWatts@house.virginia.gov

Del. Charniele Herring, D, HD-46 (Alexandria), 804-698-1046, DelCHerring@house.virginia.gov

Del. Patrick Hope, D, HD-47 (Arlington), 804-698-1047, DelPHope@house.virginia.gov

Del. Paul Krizek, D, HD-44 (Mount Vernon), 804-698-1044, DelPKrizek@house.virginia.gov

Del. Todd Gilbert, D, HD-15 (Woodstock), 804-698-1015, DelTGilbert@house.virginia.gov

A short and simple request to support SB 1339 should suffice.  Please include your home address and contact information, so they know you are a constituent or live near their district.  Here’s a sample message:
====

Subject: Support SB 1339
Dear Delegate xxxxxxxxx,
Please vote for SB 1339, which was just referred to the House Courts of Justice Committee.   SB 1339 would hold a careless or distracted motorist accountable when his or her negligence causes serious injury to a pedestrian, bicyclist, or other “vulnerable road user”.
As a [name of county] resident,I would greatly appreciate your support for this simple and straightforward traffic-law improvement, to help make me and my family safer when we travel by foot or bicycle.  Thank you for your consideration.
Sincerely,


Your Name

Your Street Address

Your City, VA Zipcode

And remember, the House of Delegates elections are this fall.

Met Branch Trail's Fort Totten section ready for design-build

Last week, DDOT issued a Request For Proposals (RFP) for the design-build construction of the Fort Totten section of the Metropolitan Branch Trail. That section connects John McCormack Drive in Brookland (at the foot of Big Stinky), to the Fort Totten Metro Station.

The trail will include LED lighting, security cameras, and wayfinding signage. The design-build process will allow for a streamlined final design and construction process. The extension is expected to be complete within 18 months of awarding the contract.

Looking at the 30% design plans, the trail will continue north along the east side of John McCormack Drive, sometimes right up against the retaining wall until that road turns west. Then the trail will squeeze between the railroad tracks and the trash transfer center, but it will still be 12' wide.

Screenshot 2017-02-14 at 12.20.00 AM

Once it gets just east of the Silver Hill Concrete building the trail will turn away from the tracks.

Screenshot 2017-02-14 at 12.24.11 AM

Then it will swing around the metro station and connect to Fort Tottten Station Road via a set of stairs (the thick black lines in the center of the image). A new sidewalk and crosswalk will also be added to Ft. Totten Station Rd.

Screenshot 2017-02-14 at 12.28.38 AM

The trail will continue north, connecting to a triangle junction that will give access to the existing trail west to Gallatin St and to a continued trail north along 1st Place. There will also be two more connections to the sidewalk, one via stairs just south of the junction and one (or really two) farther north.

  Screenshot 2017-02-14 at 12.37.14 AM

The trail west to Gallatin will also be rebuilt as a 12' wide trail.

Along the way there will be several plantings and couple of bioretention facilities.

Depending on when the contract is awarded, it's not unreasonable to think that this section could open in 2019.

But wait, there's more.

This initiative complements other investments DDOT is making for the Met Branch Trail. In 2016, DDOT completed 30% design for the Fort Totten to Takoma section of the trail and will soon initiate final design on the final segment of the trail connecting Fort Totten to Takoma and the Maryland border.

In 2017, DDOT will replace lighting on the Met Branch Trail between Florida Ave and Franklin Street with new hard-wired LED lights. The NoMa Business Improvement District, in partnership with DDOT, recently added signage on the trail bridge over Florida Avenue to raise awareness of the trail.

Apex Building replacement will create (part of) a new tunnel for the Capital Crescent Trail with a bike parking and maintenance space

The developers of the Apex Building site recently submitted a sketch amendment to their site plan and it has some good information on what the Capital Crescent Trail (CCT) will look like through the site. The Georgetown Branch currently passes through the site in the old trail tunnel, but that space will feature the Purple Line and its station. The developers are required to design, build and maintain the CCT which will pass through the site in a new tunnel built south of the current tunnel. They also have to build a bicycle storage and maintenance facility and the western entrance to the trail.

The developers are responsible for building the trail's western portal to the Woodmont plaza.

Eastern Portal

On the floor plan below, you can see how the trail is moved south, how its line has been rerouted and where it ends with a knockout panel on the east side. The trail will be 12 feet wide with 2-foot unpaved shoulders on each side. On the east side, the developers will build the trail up to the eastern edge of the property line, and the county will build the rest of the tunnel from there, under Wisconsin Avenue and then another block to Elm Street Park. 

CCT Floor plan

(I have no idea what the referenced Note 8 is. There must be a larger version of these diagrams elsewhere.)

Unfortunately

there’s no clear plan for rebuilding the rest of the tunnel to where the trail emerges near Elm Street Park, county officials learned at a Jan. 5 planning meeting.

The tunnel for the trail, estimated to cost $15 million to $30 million, is part of the downtown Bethesda master plan, but no funding is in place to build the underground link, said Tim Cupples, a county transportation designer.

Cupples said it’s only been about seven months since the county and Carr struck an agreement for reworking the section of the underground trail that passes under the developer’s site. At the eastern edge of its property, Carr will install a panel that can be torn down if the other trail tunnel section is constructed.

I don't like the use of the word "if" there, but I'm not too worried the rest of the tunnel won't happen. And the Apex section of the tunnel won't be finished for four years, at the earliest.

The proposed underground trail section, if built, would run underneath Wisconsin Avenue and the buildings that stand along Elm Street, and Cupples said the county will have to work with those property owners to finish the tunnel link.

funding for the trail tunnel likely wouldn’t be considered until the next full CIP review in 2019. However, the council does have the option to fund the project as a supplemental appropriation before the CIP review.

image from www.bethesdamagazine.com

The storage and maintenance facility's design takes advantage of the deep floor‐to‐ceiling height to create upper and lower levels connected by a helical ramp system.  The space includes a deceleration area at the trail entrance and room to park over 250 bikes, and has the potential to include showers, changing rooms and other amenities.  While this plan will fix the size, location, and arrangement of the platforms and ramps, the “fit‐out” of the space and its operation will be determined at a later stage by MCDOT, either directly or by contract

CCTBikefacility

And you can see from this furnishings concept that it can possibly store a lot of bikes, some accessed by going down to a bike storage facility and some by going up.

Furnishings

During construction, trail uses will lose access to the tunnel.

The county is pushing forward on a roughly $5.23 million project to construct the surface-level path that would send cyclists and pedestrians across Wisconsin Avenue. The county has budgeted about $1.9 million in fiscal 2018 for the interim, above-ground path that has been designed to take trail users around the tunnel as the Purple Line is constructed.

The county has already budgeted about $54 million over the next six years to rebuild the Capital Crescent Trail and pave the interim Georgetown Branch Trail from Bethesda to Silver Spring next to the Purple Line. Those funds are also being used to rebuild the Bethesda Metro station’s south entrance near the Apex Building and build the Silver Spring Green Trail between Spring Street and the Sligo Creek Trail.

From the Archives: Switfly and Silently

The July 1974 edition of the DC Gazette had a wonderful little article on the history of bicycling in DC. It contains several interesting bits. I knew that the first American woman given a driver's license was from Washington, DC, but I didn't realize the first American woman to ride a bike was.

One hundred women on bikes led the 1892 League of American Wheelmen parade in Washington, and a local woman, Mrs. William F. Smith, was a star attraction. The wife of a local bike dealer, she claimed to be the1 first women in the U.S. to ride

Claim is unverified. The treasury had so many bike commuters, that they wanted to build them a stable.

By 1898 there were 102 bicycle shops in Washington, and a division head in the Treasury Department noted that there were 400 Treasury Department workers riding daily to work, for whom the department was building a bicycle stable. He wrote in a Star article that though he had begun his career in Washington believing that men on wheels were a "lazy set", he now effused that, these 400 were the best clerks in the department, arriving fresher and in better humor than those who rode the streetcar, and being "rustlers" in work as well as on their wheels.

And there was a "war on bikes"

The first traffic regulations in Washington were occasioned by the bicycle. Before the bike's appearance, Webb's Digest of city ordinances carried no mention of which side of the road vehicles were to be driven on, no provisions for lights or bells, no mention of speed. While the League of American Wheelmen was responsible for promoting sensible traffic regulations, by the 1890's some cyclists felt the regulations were being enforced to such a degree by what were seen as "pro-horse" forces that it amounted to no less than class discrimination.

Another 1st for DC!

Washington was the first large American city to mount police on bicycles to handle cycling offenses. A police detail on bikes led the League of American Wheelmen parade here in 1892. The police considered themselves speed demons, often participating, with much precinct rivalry, in local bicycle races.

And of course details on the Capital Bicycle Club (motto:"Switfly and Silently")

An article in the 1883 Wheelman, a national wheeling magazine, describes the Capital Club as "a little world of itself" where members could share "the pleasant interchange of thoughts and opinions which always characterize fraternal association." Most every night members would gather in the clubhouse to play dominoes, pool or whist while "cleaning bee's" went on in the machine room.

From here every Wednesday and Saturday small groups would leave on tours of exploration or "practise runs" often in the ditches, gullies and commons of East Washington. Member Bert Owen , considered the finest bicycle drill master in the city, was famous for his annual "birthday run" in the early 1880's in which he led fellow members over the most challenging routes he could find in the city.

The club was at the height of its prestige when, in 1886, in incorporated and built its own clubhouse at 409 15th Street, now part of the site of the Commerce building, with its impressive arched entrance carefully designed to accommodate two three-wheelers abreast.

But the Capital Bicycle Club was only one of many inspiring the same kind of fraternal loyalty. Lists of as many as 10 weekend runs organized by as many clubs were common in the weekend newspapers, one such column headed "Razzle, Dazzle, Sis Boom Ah; Century, Century, Rah! Rahl Rah? " The Century Club, the Columbia Athletic Club, the Washington Road Club, the Arlington Wheelmen, the National Wheelmen, the Capitol Hill Wheelmen, even the Queer Wheelmen and other had their colors, trick riders and fast racers.

I suspect by "Queer" they aren't talking about the same thing we would be today.

The Capital Bicycle Club, which disbanded in 1911 when the Commerce building claimed its clubhouse site, could still muster 60 members in 1929 to a 50th anniversary party, complete with long, reminiscent poems.

In 1936 the Arlington Wheelmen, once known for their many racing titleholders, was one of the few bicycle clubs in the country still in existence and celebrated its 48th anniversary in 1936 with a full complement of 100 members. As late as 1953 the Chain and Sproket Club held its 58th annual meeting with 13 remaining members, having never missed a monthly meeting except once during the World War I influenza epidemic.

image from afinecollection.files.wordpress.com

DDOT's Congestion Management Study identifies areas where more bike facilities are needed

AMM

Last year, the DC Council requested that DDOT perform a congestion management study and last week, they delivered the final report of that study. Martin Di Caro writes

D.C. transportation officials are embarking on a five-year project to redefine congestion management, moving away from focusing solely on automobile traffic to creating a “multi-modal” analysis with measures to improve travel across every mode that clogs the roads and sidewalks: cars, buses, bikes, and walking. The new approach makes sense for a city in which fewer than half the residents commute by car.

DDOT researchers identified 10 corridors, each with multiple challenges, from bus route congestion to lack of bicycle accessibility. For instance, ...14th Street Northwest has... a “high stress” bike lane network

The report has some interesting facts and figures, such as this image on mode share.

DC Mode share

Unfortunately, this map of mode share by neighborhood, groups bikes with taxis and "other" making it kind of useless. And the percentiles aren't granular enough to show where bike commuters live and where they don't.

Mode by hood

Bike commuters have some of the shortest commutes, and shorter by average

Commute time

The remaining study  for bicycling deals with the Capital Bikeshare Walkshed (how much of the city is in walking distance of a bikeshare station) and mapping the district's streets for Bicycle Level of traffic Stress. The Bikeshare map isn't particularly surprising, nor are the conclusions that there are more kiosks in the central part of the city than in the residential parts or that the stations follow the pattern of Metro lines.

Bikeshare walkshed

The level of stress analysis shows, surprisingly, that Wards 2 and 6 have the highest percentage of high stress streets, and Wards 4, 7 and 8 the lowest. They also showed that not enough bridges have facilities for cyclists (other than sidewalks) and that most major arterials are high stress. In some cases I might differ. For example, part of Pennsylvania Avenue EOTR has a nice sidepath (because they couldn't get a bike lane in) and so that's low stress if your going SE, but it's ranked as LTS 4.

Stress

All of this feeds into a combined map of all issues residents and visitors have accessing and using non-automobile roads (see map at the top of post) and then the 10 Focus areas mentioned by Di Caro. Of those 6 have bicycle accessibility issues. [Note 6 and 7 on the map aremlabelled incorrectly/reversed, and they're also mislabeled in table 8 in the report)

Focus map

Those 6, and the actions that may address the bicycle issues, are

  • 14th Street - 14th Street Streetscape Construction
  • Downtown (H Street and I Street) - ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • South Dakota Ave NE - ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • New York Avenue - Trail and streetscape studies
  • West End/Foggy Bottom - Access feasibility and implementation of protected bike lanes
  • Eastside Multimodal crossing - Bike bridge over rail and river trails  (Not sure what this is referring to) 

The Eastern Downtown Protected Bike Lane Study is out

Sorry for the radio silence. I don't know what I had, but I have some footage of me sick at home. But don't worry, I have used the last bit of Krypton's power (Yeah I know, I already did that in Superman II, but no one said this movie was good) to heal myself.

Anyway, while I was staving off death, DDOT released the Updated Eastern Protected Bike Lane Study. It's extensive - nearly a 100 pages long, and I haven't read it all because that would leave no time to look up deleted scenes from Superman IV. The main message is that DDOT has eliminated two alternatives (1 and 2) and what now remains are No-build, Alternative 3 and Alternative 4.

In addition to the No Build alternative, DDOT will advance Build Alternatives 3 and 4 for further design and analysis, both of which would provide a two-way protected lane on the east side of the street. Both alternatives result in beneficial bicycle infrastructure and each would expand the bicycling infrastructure on the eastern side of downtown. .... Both build alternatives result in minor traffic impacts...Both build alternatives require some changes to parking. Alternative 3, on 6th Street, affects more metered parking downtown and 16 Sunday angled spaced. Alternative 4, on 9 th Street, removes 35-45 residential spaces in Shaw and zero Sunday angled spaces. The Sunday parking effects on 6th Street in Alternative 3 could be mitigated by expanding the angled parking provision to an additional block on 6th Street or by modifying parking configurations on other side streets.

Screenshot 2017-02-09 at 12.53.53 AM


Screenshot 2017-02-09 at 12.53.53 AM

On the subject of church parking, which has been the primary source of contention, the report adds

Some churches along on 6th Street and 9th Street have stated their concern that the addition of a protected bicycle lane will negatively affect the ability of people to access services and other church functions. Currently, select segments of 6th Street and 9th Street allow parking diagonally, in order to allow more cars to park in front of churches. Alternatives 1 and 2 would remove about 28 diagonal backin spaces; Alternative 3 would remove about 16 angled spaces; and Alternative 4 would remove zero spaces but relocate one of the four block faces to the opposite side of 9 th Street. In addition to designated parking, some churches also use roadway space for loading and unloading cars and buses during large events, such as funerals or large gatherings. DDOT has worked with church leaders to minimize effects on parking, by allowing angled parking through the bike lane on Sundays in Alternatives 1 and 2. Each of the alternatives offers flexibility for large events, such as funerals, to manage parking and provide improved bike facilities. Alternatives 3 and 4 provide greater flexibility in this regard for churches on the west side of both streets.

I'll note that in the description of the meetings with churches, not all oppose bike lanes and none mention gentrification as a concern.

The majority of comments showed support for bike lanes in a 52% to 48% split with the latter in favor of the no-build option. The most favored option is Alternative 3, the bi-directional protected lanes on the east side of 6th Street NW, which gained 40% of the overall preferences expressed. This was favored largely because of the minimal effects on church parking, traffic congestion, travel time, and the ability to function as a full-time protected bicycle facility.

The next step is to advance both build alternatives to the 30% stage. 

After the preliminary design stage, if a build alternative is selected, DDOT can proceed with final design and then installation. Developing 30% design is typically a 6 to 9 month process for a project of this type, and final design and installation can take an additional 12 to 18 months, depending on the complexity of construction. During the 30% design process, DDOT will be able to better determine the timeline and timing of installation, if a build alternative is selected.

So 18-27 months till installation, if a build option is selected. Meanwhile, UHOP still opposes bike lanes on 6th, which is where Alternative 3, the most popular option, places them.

From the Archives: Another missed opportunity for the Glen Echo Trolley line

There have a few near misses for the rail-to-trail conversion of the Glen Echo and Cabin John Trolley line. There was a missed chance for the DC section in the 1970's and numerous times that the line has found its way into plans that never came to be. Back in 1993, there was another missed chance on the part of the line in Maryland, from Cabin John to Brookmont.

It all started with the end of the streetcar system in DC.

Transit riders filed a successful class-action suit in the 1960s challenging fare increases by the D.C. Transit System Inc., which operated Washington's bus system and street cars in addition to the trolley.

That class-action lawsuit went all the way to the Supreme Court and wasn't settled until 1989

The ROW continued to be owned by the D.C. Transit System until it defaulted on its debt to the Washington Metropolitan Area Riders Fund, a nonprofit group created to hold the millions of dollars of refunds. They forced the auction of the ROW, which they then bought (because all the revenue of the sale would go to them and they'd thus get the land for free? Just guessing.)

They bought the 3 mile, 15 acre ROW for $42,500, which seems like a steal

[Leonard N. Bebchick.], court-appointed counsel for the Riders Fund, said he has no plans to develop the property, which was assessed at $571,000. "I think the bulk of the property has no value, except to the National Park Service," he said. Bebchick added that he'd like to sell the land to the Park Service so it can make the Clara Barton Parkway four lanes throughout.

But Audrey Calhoun, assistant superintendent of the George Washington Parkway, said the Park Service doesn't have the money to widen the two-lane part of the Clara Barton Parkway.

Still, a lot of people were interested in getting it for free.

Nevertheless, [Calhoun] added, "If someone were to donate {the trolley corridor} to us, we'd be more than happy to take it."

Glen Echo Town Council member Bill Shultz attended the auction and approached Bebchick yesterday about donating the Glen Echo segment of his new property to the town of 350. He was turned down.

At the time, the Post wrote

The fund now has $11 million, most of it invested in Treasury notes, and is still owed $4.8 million by the D.C. Transit System, Bebchick said.

When the Riders Fund is finally tapped, Bebchick doesn't want the millions used to lower bus and subway fares. "I want something tangible to show the riders that after 30 years of litigation they've got something for their money," he said. What does he have in mind? More bus shelters.

In 1996, the Riders Fund (and the related Bebchick fund) was transferred to WMATA with the conditions that the money be used to buy buses and that it not offset any contributions due from the jurisdictions that fund WMATA. The land was transferred too, though there was one suggestion to not transfer the land (I don't know what they wanted done with the land instead). If only someone could have made the argument that turning the ROW over to Montgomery County and DC for the purpose of a trail would benefit bus riders. 

Virginia bills to protect cyclists clear Senate

A few bills designed to protect cyclists and other vulnerable users were recently approved by the Senate.

One bill would block drivers from using a bike lane to go around a car that is stopped or turning left while also removing mopeds from bike lanes.

A separate [ Democratic Sen. Scott Surovell, of Fairfax] bill also narrowly approved by the Senate this week would create a specific traffic violation for distracted or careless drivers who strike a “vulnerable road user” in a crash that causes serious bodily injury.

Surovell said if the bill becomes law, it could set a standard that could help victims win civil suits against drivers for damages too.

“Right now, if a driver basically stands up in court and says ‘I didn’t see him’, it’s pretty much an absolute defense,” Surovell said.

Another bill that was advanced Wednesday by a subcommittee would expand Virginia’s existing ban on texting or emailing while driving to include tapping icons rather than just entering text and to clearly include the time a car is stopped in traffic or at a light

The bill would maintain an exception for the use of navigation apps.

Meanwhile, in the Republican controlled House of Delegates

A bill approved 80-18 in the House would provide a new exception [to distracted driving] for using screens that are factory-installed in a car.

The Senate bills were not without opponents

Republican Sen. Bill Carrico, of southwest Virginia, opposed the [bike lane bill], arguing that the new rules could confuse drivers.

“Their habits have been that they do this, and I think this is just going to create a confusion for the drivers out on the highways today that have practiced this for many many years,” Carrico said.

Changing laws is too confusing. Which is why we should have never gotten rid of witch burning laws. Now people have no idea what to do when a woman turns them into a newt.

GOP Sen. Ryan McDougle said existing laws should be enough [for crashes that causes serious bodily injury], since drivers can be charged with reckless driving in the most serious cases.

“The court is making the determination of whether the action is culpable and criminal or less culpable and not criminal. When we create this, now there’s a specific statute, so if somebody is struck … and there is serious injury, that person is not going to go to jail,” McDougle said.

“Reckless driving doesn’t work often in cycling cases,” Surovell responded, because there is not enough evidence.

The penalties in Surovell’s bill would only apply to drivers who are careless or distracted

By the way, on Inauguration Day I ran into Governor McAuliffe by chance. He asked about my injuries and so we had a brief talk about bike commuting and road safety, it was all very encouraging. "We need more people to bike and if we want them to bike, we need to make sure they're safe" he said (paraphrasing from memory). 

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