In the wake of last week’s amendment to Michigan’s helmet laws, we take a look at another recently enacted piece of motorcycle-related legislation. Virginia has now joined 48 other states in allowing two motorcycles to travel side-by-side in the same lane.
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell actually signed House Bill 97, on Feb. 28 but the legislation won’t go into effect until July 1, well into the riding season. The Bill amends section 46.2-857, removing motorcycles from the text designating lane sharing between two vehicles as “reckless driving”. It also adds text to state the section does not restrict motorcycles from sharing the same lane.
Here’s the text of section 46.2-857 of the Code of Virginia with new text italicized and removed text crossed out:
A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives any motor vehicle,
including any motorcycle, so as to be abreast of another vehicle in a lane designed for one vehicle, or drives any motor vehicle, including any motorcycle, so as to travel abreast of any other vehicle traveling in a lane designed for one vehicle. However Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit two two-wheeled motorcycles from traveling abreast while traveling in a lane designated for one vehicle. In addition, this section shall not apply to (i) any validly authorized parade, motorcade, or motorcycle escort, or law-enforcement officers driving motorcycles while on official duty; (ii) a motor vehicle traveling in the same lane of traffic as a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, or moped; nor shall it apply to (iii) any vehicle when lawfully overtaking and passing one or more vehicles traveling in the same direction in a separate lane.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation cautions against riding side-by-side, encouraging a staggered formation instead to allow room for emergency maneuvers and prevent handlebars from locking together. When coming to a stop at an intersection however, the MSF says riders should line up in a side-by-side formation to reduce the overall footprint of the riding group. Previously, riders in Virginia were prohibited from lining up side-by-side at intersections.
As of July 1, Vermont will be the only state in the U.S. to prohibit motorcycles from riding side-by-side in the same lane.