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GETTING THERE: Share the road with bicyclists, it’s the law

AS I tooled along River Road in Stafford on a recent afternoon, a car ahead slowed to a near crawl.

Ahead of that car, about a half-dozen young men and boys were pedaling their bikes toward State Route 3.

They were hugging the pavement’s edge, but there was no way to safely pass them with traffic coming the other way on the narrow, winding road.

Eventually, the other lane cleared and we passed the bicyclists, some of whom had stopped to wave cars past.

Anyone will tell you River Road is not a good place for a bike ride, but roads are theirs to use, too, so it’s their right to do it.

Either way, the scenario was a good reminder about what car drivers should do when bicyclists are ahead.

For the record, laying on the horn and yelling expletives is not a good option.

It just so happens that a new law spells out exactly what drivers need to do in such situations.

Starting Tuesday, cars must leave a 3-foot space while passing bicyclists on Virginia roads. The old law required 2 feet.

Sen. Bryce Reeves, R–Spotsylvania, sponsored the bill, which also covers mopeds, animals and animal-drawn vehicles.

Virginia is the 21st state to pass such a law.

Dear Scott: On Overview Drive at the intersection of Cosner Drive in Spotsylvania near U.S. 17 the pavement is separating.

This has been this way almost two months.

VDOT put a “rough road” sign and some cones plus a patch that failed.

Can you check on the repair status?

—Mark Williams, Spotsylvania

The damage apparently was caused by heavy truck traffic, and VDOT has been to the spot three times to make temporary repairs, said spokeswoman Kelly Hannon.

The damaged spot needs more extensive repairs, she said.

VDOT has to bring in a contractor to mill the pavement and replace the base and travel surface so it can better handle heavy vehicles.

In the meantime, the “rough road” signs will stay up in the area.

Dear Scott: I have noticed with the construction on the new Sheetz on U.S. 1 at Massaponax Church Road that traffic heading west doesn’t trigger the light to change.

Traffic tends to back up in the mornings.

Do you know if VDOT is aware of the light problem?

Early morning traffic is having to run the red light or sit until traffic from the west approaches.

—Cindy Combs, Spotsylvania

Several other people contacted VDOT over the problem, Hannon said.

The highway department worked with the contractor and discovered that work had caused the detectors embedded in the pavement to malfunction.

The problem should be fixed now.

If it isn’t, you can let VDOT know by calling 800/367-7623.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436