Seems that Creigh Deeds has introduced a bill to criminalize reckless cycling. Here’s the bill:
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:
1. That the Code of Virginia is amended by adding in Article 12 of Chapter 8 of Title 46.2 a section numbered 46.2-908.1:1 as follows:
§ 46.2-908.1:1. Reckless operation of a bicycle.
Any person who operates a bicycle in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property shall be guilty of reckless cycling. No demerit points shall be awarded by the Commissioner for violations of this section.
Fine, that seems reasonable enough. Except cyclists are already subject to reckless driving penalties, no? Here’s the existing law which makes cyclists subject to the same laws as drivers:
§ 46.2-800. Riding bicycles, electric personal assistive mobility devices, electric power-assisted bicycles, or mopeds; riding or driving animals.
Every person riding a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, moped, or an animal or driving an animal on a highway shall be subject to the provisions of this chapter and shall have all of the rights and duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle, unless the context of the provision clearly indicates otherwise.
And here’s the current reckless driving statute:
§ 46.2-852. Reckless driving; general rule – Irrespective of the maximum speeds permitted by law, any person who drives a vehicle on any highway recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person shall be guilty of reckless driving.
So what necessitates the bill? I’ll ring his office tomorrow and see if I can get some context. If anyone has any to offer (crash in his district?), I’d appreciate it.
Update: I spoke to his legislative assistant this afternoon, and she explained that the bill was part of a legislative package that had been requested by Charlottesville. There was, apparently, a cyclist-caused fatality there last year, and the charge of “reckless cycling” was one of the recommendations of the bike safety task force set up in response to it. Sen. Deeds office doesn’t view it as anti-cyclist, but as a way to hold cyclist responsible without the full force of a reckless driving charge. In fact, Sen. Deeds himself replied (via Twitter) that “Idea is control short of reckless driving.” I’m still not personally certain that this bill is necessary, but I’m comfortable that Sen. Deeds isn’t out to make life harder for cyclists. I’ll be looking into the origin of the recommendation and update here.