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Annapolis and Richmond are humming today as Virginia and Maryland kick off their 2014 legislative sessions. This year’s sessions present an opportunity for successful passage of many legislative efforts that will protect bicyclists and make regional roads safer for all users. Both state legislative sessions are short, and bills move quickly. Maryland’s legislation can be no longer than 90 days; this year’s session is scheduled to wrap up by April 7. Across the Potomac, the Virginia legislative sessions is even shorter: 60 days, with the final day on March 8th. Tracking the sessions is often challenging, but we will do our best to keep you updated. WABA will be closely following a slate of bills in both states that relate to bicycling and support the work of each state-level advocacy organization, the Virgina Bicycling Federation and Bike Maryland. Virginia Bills: HB 82 — Following Too Closely: This bill would require drivers of any vehicle to not follow more closely than is reasonable any other vehicle, including bicyclists. SB 225 – Dooring Legislation: If this law is enacted, drivers and passengers in Virginia will be legally required to exercise care when opening their car doors with respect to adjacent traffic. Dooring of bicyclists by drivers and passengers can cause serious injury and this bill seeks to reduce the potential of dooring. SB 97 – Three Foot Passing : Current Virgina law requires drivers to exercise care when passing vehicles, including bicyclists, and to give at least two feet when passing. This bill seeks to extend the passing distance to three feet, in line with D.C. and Maryland law. HB277 – Pedestrians crossing highways: This bill would clarify the duties of vehicles to stop to allow pedestrians (and bicyclists) to cross highways at marked crosswalks. The full bill language helps to define many ambiguities that exist in current law. HB320: Reckless driving; passing other vehicles at intersections: This bill seeks to amend the legal reckless driving statute by prohibiting a person from overtaking or passing another vehicle stopped at a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection when a pedestrian (or bicyclist) is present. Maryland Bills: HB92 – Passing a Bicycle, an Electric Personal Assistive Mobility Device, or a Motor Scooter – Distance Requirement: This bill seeks to strengthen the three-foot passing law by altering the distance a driver of a vehicle is required to maintain while passing to four feet (with some exceptions). HB52 – Bicycles and Motor Scooters – Rules of the Road: This bill clarifies that the duties of bicyclists are those defined in Maryland law, which ensures that a lawful cyclist who is in a crash is not denied recovery due to other, hypothetical duties not included in law. WABA will give periodic updates on bills via our blog (waba.org/blog–you’re reading it right now!). We will also be sending out targeted action alerts to our members and supporters who live in key legislators’ districts. Sign up below to receive updates and action alerts.