Two important pieces of legislation affecting motorcycle riders cleared the Virginia General Assembly earlier this month and the success of both bills are due to the hard work of riders throughout the old dominion.
HB 97 — allowing two-abreast riding in a single lane on public roads — and HB 187 — outlawing motorcycle-only checkpoints — cleared both the House and Senate and are awaiting Gov. Bob Mcdonnell’s signature to become law on July 1.
Both came about through the hard work of the Virginia Coalition of Motorcyclists (VCom) and lawyers who work for Tom McGrath’s law firm, a firm with a long history of helping riders with legal problems.
Virginia was one of only two states that banned two-abreast riding and statistics show that motorcycle accident rates are no higher in those states that allow the practice. In addition, over-enthusiastic law enforcement officers in some jurisdictions of the Old Dominion used the law to hand out reckless-driving tickets to motorcyclists who pull up beside each other at stop signs and stop lights.
Another case of excessive police enforcement brought about the ban on motorcycle-only checkpoints. During Rolling Thunder last year, Arlington County police set up a motorcycle-only checkpoint on one of the bridges leading from the District of Columbia back into Virginia. Although they backed up bikes for miles and causes nasty delays, the efforts netted only a handful of equipment violations on bikes.
The Arlington PD activity not only angered bikers but led the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to rescind a grant it has awarded the department to promote motorcycle safety. The IIHS said they did not want to contribute to “harassment” of riders.
If you get a chance, drop Gov. Bob McDonnell an email and urge him to sign both HB 97 and HB 187. Every little bit helps. You can use this online form.