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Finally some progress on "bikes must ride right if they are slow"

Bike LawsBy B'Spokes,

Our story goes back to when Anne Arundel County introduced the "Bikes May use the Full Lane" sign and MDOT erroneously added that only cyclists traveling near the speed limit can "take the lane" slower cyclists on the other hand "must" ride far right as possible/practicable. Because basically MDOT said "Oh look, here is a way of looking at the law no one has thought of before," - Well that should have been a warning sign right there, but they decided to defend their position in my conversations with them, so I had to look for other solutions.

This was not the first time MDOT decided to go outside of what I'll call the canon of bicycle safety advice, which I outlined in this story: The best of MDOT's WTF

To demonstrate why MDOT's position was so grievous, let's say the ride side of the road has some issue that is covered by one of the exceptions to our ride right law, like debris or uneven pavement. Bicycle law says we can legally ride further left to avoid these kind of issues but slow moving vehicle law as interpreted by MDOT says we can't. Let me stress it is their interpretation at issue here, I see no conflict between the two per the letter of the law.

So for me it came down to: Does bicycle law clarify the slow moving vehicle law for cyclists or does slow moving vehicle law negate bicycle law and does MDOT have the legal authority to issue an interpretation of law? Or even more grievous does MDOT have the authority to say we are the only state where the Uniform Vehicle Code says something different then other states with the Uniform Vehicle Code?

I hope you can see when put in those terms, the issue is outrageous. But when talking about cyclists riding right when bicycle law says they may use the full lane even Vehicular Cyclists says there is a time we can be safe and polite and not put our safety at risk by riding to the right even though the law does not say you have to, this is called "Control & Release" as demonstrated in the following video:

Control and Release on Kirby Avenue Over I-57 in Champaign, IL from Gary Cziko on Vimeo.



The problem is the law does not spell this out (nor should it) so it becomes very hard to get MDOT to put this safety information out to cyclists as they primarily deal with summarizing the law and not safety advice that goes beyond the scope of the law. Additionally do I need to point out ANY summary of the law that is done by dropping words is inaccurate?

Or let me state it this way: I understand the desire of motorists that cyclists should assist in easier passing but it comes down to should MDOT stress (poor/inaccurate) summaries of the law or draw upon known good safety advice? My stance is leave the nitty-gritty of the law to the police and the courts and have MDOT stress the safety side of things.

To that end the last response I got from Secretary James T. Smith seems to be very encouraging. And special thanks to Brian Frosh (who is running for Attorney General and please consider contributing to his campaign) for his help and understanding on this issue. I will note one thing I learned from this, when dealing with MDOT about bicycles it would probably be best to get an elected official involved after the first "We are MDOT and we defend our position" response.

The letter:

From Maryland Department of Transportation - The Secretary's Office

Dear Chairman Frosh:

Thank you for your August 12, 2014 letter regarding whether bicycles are considered "slow moving vehicles." I appreciate you alerting me to the public statements made by the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT)on this matter that may have been confusing, and I am happy we were able to clarify the issue for your constituent.

As noted in the email response, there is no hard and fast standard for requiring bicycles to move or stay right on the road. This allows for flexibility and accommodation for real-life circumstances that occur and may not neatly fall under statutory provisions. I am copying State Highway Administrator Melinda Peters as well as Motor Vehicle Administrator Milton Chaffee, who is also the Governor's Highway Safety Representative, on this response so they are aware of this clarification of the rules of the road as they pertain to bicycles. MDOT strives to provide accurate and timely information to Maryland's citizens and will make sure this issue is understood when communicating with the public.
... [Contact information for further clarification if needed]

James T. Smith, Jr.
Secretary

The PDF of the letter.
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The obesity era

Biking Elsewhere[B' Spokes: I thought this was an interesting read. Can I make a point that exercise is more important than ever after reading this?]
####################################

As the American people got fatter, so did marmosets, vervet monkeys and mice. The problem may be bigger than any of us

http://aeon.co/magazine/health/david-berreby-obesity-era/
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.Councilman Tom Quirk - Baltimore County District 1

Politics
Open Space, Trails & Environmental Protection
Councilman Quirk is a champion of open space and alternatives to vehicular traffic as integral to maintaining our quality of life, protecting our natural resources and maintaining our property values.
...
“Pedestrian & Bicycle Advisory Committee” Bill 2-11 (February 2011) established the Baltimore County Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee.
...

Traffic Management & Pedestrian Safety
Councilman Quirk lives on a heavily trafficked road and is intimately aware of the challenges that vehicular traffic presents for his neighbors and constituents, many of whom live in the district for its family friendly culture and good schools.
...
“Speed Monitoring System” Bill 1-11 (January 2011)  increases availability of speed monitoring systems in school zones in direct response to the enormous number of speeding complaints.
...

http://www.councilmantomquirk.com/issues.php#Open_Space__Trails___Environmental_Protection
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Ward Rd. (Volunteer) Park UPDATE

Bike Pathsimage

We NEED your help if you would like to see family friendly recreational opportunities in Calvert County!...

The Calvert County Division of Parks and Recreation and Division of Natural Resources are hosting a public meeting Thursday, Oct. 2, 7 p.m., at the Northeast Community Center in Chesapeake Beach...

So we have two action items…

#1 – Plan to attend the upcoming meeting on (see details above). If you can’t make the meeting, please take a minute to email the Calvert County Commissioners...

#2 – We need to thank Commissioner Slaughenhoupt for his efforts to see this trail system addressed in the master plan....

http://calvertctc.org/ward-rd-volunteer-park-update/
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5 WAYS TO IMPROVE 3 FOOT PASSING LAWS

Bike LawsBy Rick Bernardi, BicycleLaw.Com

1. Eliminate exceptions to the laws that make them weaker:
...

2. Link passing distance to passing speed:
...

3. Change lanes to pass:
...

4. Make passing collisions prima facie evidence of an illegal pass:
...

5. Criminalize buzzing:
...

http://www.bicyclelaw.com/blog/index.cfm/2014/9/16/Five-Ways-to-Improve-3-Foot-Passing-Laws
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KC considers law against street harassment of walkers, cyclists and others

Bike LawsBY MIKE HENDRICKSTHE KANSAS CITY STAR

...
Whether it’s crude remarks shouted from car windows at mothers walking their kids to school, or bicyclists nearly squeezed off the road by angry motorists not interested in sharing it, such all-too-common acts of intimidation do more than make the targets fearful.

They also undermine initiatives aimed at fighting obesity and encouraging alternative forms of transportation here and across the nation.

Which is why Kansas City could soon be joining a growing number of communities that have enacted anti-harassment ordinances that impose fines and jail sentences on perpetrators found guilty of street harassment.
...

http://www.kansascity.com/news/government-politics/article2107031.html
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Congress Approves Bill That Will Offer Free Automobiles To Welfare Recipients

Biking Elsewhere"Earnest said in the briefing that the campaign is intended to help unemployed Americans find secure employment, and ultimately will cause the unemployment rate to drop significantly. “Every American deserves the right to possess the ability to get themselves to a good job. Public transportation is very limited for most of the unemployed, especially in rural areas. "

http://empirenews.net/congress-approves-bill-that-will-offer-free-automobiles-to-welfare-recipients/

[B' Spokes: Yes this satire but I think it makes the point if you prioritize just cars and treat everything else as second class this could very well happen in the future.]
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Almost Every Way Of Getting To Work Besides Driving Is Better For Your Mental Health

Biking Elsewhere"Three researchers who tracked more than 17,000 British commuters in surveys over a period of 18 years found that those with active modes of transportation fared better on a scale of well-being."

http://www.fastcoexist.com/3035700/almost-every-way-of-getting-to-work-besides-driving-is-better-for-your-mental-health
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Please help, this could happen here next

Biking ElsewhereThe story: Woman charged again after she rides her bicycle on busy U.S. 27 (and note the picture of her biking, the gravel is clearly seen.)

The appeal for money: Appeal fund by Cherokee Schill

Note: To date she has not received any help from the League of American Bicyclists (LAB), which I find ironic in that they helped get rid of our mandatory shoulder use law. I sort of understand the reluctance in the past not to represent anything less then "the ideal" case. But is that the case here? What cyclist would support:
  • Not ever sweeping a shoulder along a route we use frequently
  • Rumple Strips along a section of road were we are expected to jump on and off the shoulder?


I will strongly assert it is the state that is guilty of "wanton endangerment". So please help her and maybe an encouraging note to LAB to stand up for our rights.

It could happen here: I don't go to the Towson Bike Party much because I don't like biking Charles. Not that I think any part is unsafe but (for one example) it is the consent bugging me do I use the too narrow three foot shoulder or take the lane? Neither feels exactly right because of the other so I just don't bike there often, but what if I had too? At one point yesterday when using this shoulder I had to come to a near full stop because of some piss poor road patch in the shoulder. If i was taking this every day, you are darn straight I would be taking the lane early to avoid that spot. And if there was a rumble strip preventing my return to the shoulder.., I hope you see my point, a reasonable cyclists is not always on the shoulder, nor is it the law.

And as you may have heard I have been fighting the issue of bikes as slow moving vehicles must ride right. But still there is a position in MDOT that is very similar to the judges in this case

District Judge Bill Oliver found that Schill had violated ... three counts of a law requiring slow-moving vehicles to move as far to the right "as practicable."

This is disturbing because Kentucky is clearer than Maryland that bikes are not considered "slow-moving" vehicles and like us bikes are not required to use shoulders

189.810 Definitions.
(1) "Slow-moving vehicle" includes farm machinery, including animal-drawn vehicles, highway construction and maintenance vehicles, and any other type of vehicle except bicycles, capable of a rate of speed no greater than twenty-five (25) miles per hour.




So please help in anyway you can.
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MUSIC TO YOUR GEARS

Biking in Baltimoreimage

Bikemore's 2nd annual Music To Your Gears, featuring Baltimore's own international superstar Rye Rye, underground hip-hop legend Labtekwon, and the rhythmically complex indie pop of Chester Endersby Gwazda, returns to Friends of Druid Hill Park on Saturday, September 20 from 4-9pm!

The festival is at the Sundial Pavilion on the west side of Druid Park Lake.

There will be food trucks, wine, beer from Heavy Seas Beer, bicycles for rent, planned rides, and just an all-around wonderful day and evening in one of America's greatest urban parks!

Huge thanks to the Baltimore Bicycling Club (http://baltobikeclub.org/) for being the lead sponsor of this event! Other sponsors are Zipcar®, MP3car (http://mp3car.com/), SmartLogic, Evergreen Health Cooperative, Johns Hopkins University, Joy Sushinsky Realtor and your neighborhood specialist, Walmart, and Seawall Development (http://www.seawalldevelopment.com/).

We encourage you to come early to Druid Hill Park for Charm City Cross to catch one of America's best cyclocross races. http://charmcitycross.com/

See you on the 20th, and invite all your friends!

More info:Facebook
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