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Thursday, July 31 2014 @ 03:31 PM UTC

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Bike tour of Baltimore's community gardens!

Biking in BaltimoreRegister for the Charm City Garden Tour! Enjoy a nine mile leisurely ride to some of Baltimore's most beautiful community gardens and urban farms. August 16, 8:30 am, starts at the Druid Hill Park City Farm. This year's ride will feature some of North-Central Baltimore's creatively designed and maintained greenspaces. The tour concludes for a celebratory swim at Druid Hill Park pool!

For more information or to register: http://charmcitygardentoursupper.wordpress.com/
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Guilty of negligent driving and maximum fines!

Biking in the Metro AreaSo I attended the trial of Whitney Decesaris, the driver that killed Trish Cunningham on a narrow road in Anne Arundel County. I mainly wanted to make sure the fine was more then the typical $140 for killing a cyclist in Maryland. So I am happy to report Decesaris was found guilty of negligent driving (the main contested point) and got the maximum fine of $500 plus points. In addition there was failure to exercise caution and failure to control speed, both with $500 fines.

Physical evidence showed that Decesaris hit Trish Cunningham 10 inches in from the right side of the vehicle. Testimony indicated that Decesaris did not brake or swerve prior to contact with the cyclist. Only after hitting the cyclist was there was movement to the left but how much over the double yellow is not exactly known.

The defense made a pretty good argument that this was "just an unavoidable accident" that had me silently going "Grrr" in my seat, more then once." but the thing is, if you filter out the spin and the unnecessary stuff you get the exact same argument on why this was negligent driving, The Judge saw that and called her out on those points.

The Washington Post did a good job summarizing this and other things of the trial.

I really wish there was some sort of professional examination after a fatality to better understand what the driver was thinking that failed to pass a reasonable person standard so we could target and correct that kind of thinking, But in lieu of that, I personally believe there has been too much stress on cyclists riding right, with failure to even mention the drivers duty that even when the cyclist is riding as far right as possible the driver still has to change lanes to pass or wait behind the cyclist till there is a safe opportunity to pass with at least 3'. (Ok fine, I need to add more clarifications to that statement but you get the idea.) Speculation: Was Decesaris thinking "Share the Road" so if the cyclist is on the right I can "share" the rest of the lane... whoopsie (to be fair Decesaris was very distraught at the trial and no doubt feels a lot of remorse.)

The Judge even brought up the new "Bikes May Use the Full Lane" signs that have been going up. Now don't get me wrong, these are great and all but something targeting drivers like "Only one vehicle per lane. Bicycles are vehicles. No sharing the lane with bicyclists." - That's not perfect either but maybe it's time to error on the other side of the equation?

So we had a very good turn out as shown here after the trial:
image

So I have to ask, was it the turn out that turned a minimum fine to a maximum fine? Could be but I suspect the truth lies more in the next picture:
image

So first let me introduce the fellow on the left, Wes Adams. He is running for State's Attorney of Anne Arundel County. and the very fact that he showed up for this trial he is getting my vote. The others are cycling advocates of Anne Arundel County. So let me reiterate get politically involved, it pays off! I encourage you to support both:
Wes Adams for State’s Attorney of Anne Arundel County
Bicycle Advocates For Annapolis & Anne Arundel County ("BikeAAA")
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Let's stop calling the killing of cyclists by negligent drivers "accidents"

Biking ElsewhereBy Lloyd Alter, Treehugger

Rising Canadian squash star Adrian Dudzicki was murdered yesterday by Aleksey Aleksev, while riding his bicycle to practice in Toronto. The weapon was a 1992 BMW 325; Aleksev has been charged with dangerous driving causing death and criminal negligence causing death.

Yet Canada's most respected newspaper, the Globe and Mail, has the headline Star squash player killed in accident while cycling in Toronto and the copy starts:

"One of Canada’s top squash players has died after being hit by a car while cycling in Toronto."

"Squash Canada confirmed in a release that Ottawa’s Adrian Dudzicki died from injuries sustained in an accident on Wednesday when a vehicle struck him as he rode his bicycle to the National Squash Academy."


Interesting language. If a driver is charged with criminal negligence causing death, is it an "accident"? Did the BMW kill Adrian or did Aleksey Aleksev?

"Words are powerful. They shape the way we see the world around us."
...

http://www.treehugger.com/bikes/lets-stop-calling-murder-cyclists-people-driving-bmws-accidents.html
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'Putting Baltimore on the Map' As the Birthplace of American Cycling

Biking in BaltimorePRWEB.COM Newswire, Digital Journal

The Maryland Historical Society, in partnership with Baltimore Heritage, is launching a new campaign to win national recognition for Baltimore's unique place in the history of American bicycling. The Society seeks to raise awareness of Baltimore's prestigious cycling history through a special-one day exhibition, American Wheels to the Front: The Involution of American Bicycles (1868-today), as well as celebrate our cycling past and present at the 'Old Timey Bike Fest' and happy hour on Thursday August 7, 2014. From August 6-August 9, 2014 it will also play host to the International Cycling History Conference at the Society's Mount Vernon headquarters (201 W. Monument Street) in downtown Baltimore.

"Unlike many historical subjects, bicycles continue to play an important and growing role in Maryland and America today," says Burt Kummerow, President and CEO of the Maryland Historical Society, "We invite you to participate in the fascinating past, present and future of bicycles here at the Maryland Historical Society."

Details of the Thursday August 7th events are as follows:
...

http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/2081103
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Baltimore County Needs to Reduce Pedestrian Fatilities

Biking in the Metro AreaBy Jeffrey H. Marks

The Baltimore Sun's article "Walk this Way" is right in pointing out that a comprehensive program with a director and budget is needed to reduce the County's high rate of pedestrian fatalities. As the Sun states, other jurisdictions like Ocean City mounted a campaign to reduce pedestrian fatalities - at a cost of $400,000. The result was that the number of pedestrian crashes was cut in half!

It's unacceptable for Exec Kamenetz to simply blame these crashes on the pedestrian by saying that he failed to use the crosswalk. When someone takes the bus or walks, the nearest crosswalk may be 1/2 mile away. Is it reasonable to expect the pedestrian to walk an extra mile to cross the street? And even if the pedestrian uses the crosswalk, the motorist may still fail to yield..

Baltimore County needs a comprehensive plan that involves pedestrian and motorist education, police enforcement, and engineering to improve safety. The County should design Complete streets that accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists, and cars; rather than just cars. The County should follow the City's good example of gradually accommodating non motorized travel; including bike paths, bikelanes , wide curblanes, and even rebuilding a hazardous stretch of Charles Street near the Johns Hopkins Univ campus. If the City, with its lower tax base, can design complete streets, why not the County? I thank the first responders (fire, police, and rescue personnel) for taking the lead in urging the County to make our streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. Please hear our plea, Exec Kamenetz.

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Let's force pedestrians to cross where they are getting killed for safety - Route 1 in College Park

Biking in the Metro AreaBy Jamie Forzato, WTOP


...
University of Maryland President Wallace Loh recommended SHA, which owns and maintains the highway, approve a median barrier along Route 1 from Knox Road to Guilford Road -- a three-block stretch that is home to several popular bars and restaurants that get a high level of foot traffic on weekend nights.

"It is possibly one of the most dangerous stretches of state highway in the entire state," Loh says.

The barrier is a priority and Loh hopes it's among the upcoming improvements.

"We would like that barrier immediately," he says. "As soon as possible. Even [if] it's ugly. Even [if] it's temporary. We've been talking about this for a long time."

College Park City Councilman Patrick Wojahn (District 1) agrees: "There will likely be a barrier placed in the median on Route 1 in that area where there have been these pedestrian deaths."

But he wants to consider the plans carefully.

"We want to make sure that it's not something that will negatively impact the appearance of the Route 1 corridor," Wojahn says. "We don't want it to be something that will make it feel like a divided highway, which may cause traffic to move more quickly and may put more risk to the pedestrians that are crossing at the intersections where they should be crossing."

Still, Loh says, the need to protect pedestrians outweighs the need for a pleasant landscape.

"Quite honestly, there are people in the city who do not want the barrier because they think it's unsightly," he says. "I think safety of the students take precedence. After three deaths in the span of six months, I think safety is taking precedence over aesthetics."

Councilman Fazlul Kabir (District 1) calls Route 1 a "deathtrap" and says residents have told him they are discouraged from visiting the downtown College Park area because the highway is unsafe.

Three young adults were killed along this stretch since the beginning of the year, the most recent was 21-year-old Janelle Oni, who was killed last week by a drunk driver. [B' Spokes: Like a median fence is going to do something about drunk drivers. :/ ]

In January, University of Maryland student Cory Hubbard, 22, was struck and killed while crossing Route 1 near Knox Road. [B' Spokes: Per Google maps this has near invisible crosswalks.]

Three months later at the same intersection, George Washington University student Carlos Pacanins, 23, was struck and killed while near a crosswalk.
...

http://www.wtop.com/?nid=893&sid=3661916
*************************************************************
[B' Spokes: Let me state this as emphatically as I can, without police doing pedestrian crosswalk stings, crossing at intersections is unsafe!

Even when pedestrians have the right-of-way motorists feel their hurry is more important and will scare, intimidate, hit and even kill pedestrians because we all know pedestrians should not be "Dead right." So when crossing at an intersection yield: to traffic behind you, in front of you as well as to your left and right.

I will strongly assert if you take as a given that motorist do not yield to pedestrians in crosswalks then jaywalking is the safest way to cross a road and this project does nothing for better safety at intersections and removes the possibility for safer crossing as well as increase the perception the road is only for cars, cars going fast.

********************************************************************************
Near invisible crosswalks:
"We conclude that, because high-visibility markings are more easily detected by motorists and have been shown to lead to a reduction in pedestrian-vehicle collisions when compared to [the type of markings that Maryland generally does.]"
http://www.baltimorespokes.org/article.php?story=20130922203722411
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When Road Rage Strikes: Taking Control

Biking ElsewhereGood advice from Bob Mionske

http://blogs.bicycling.com/blogs/roadrights/when-road-rage-strikes-taking-control

"And too often, when the aggressive driver’s target is a cyclist, our society’s response to that behavior is insultingly inadequate for the wrong committed."
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Bicycle Rules Featured In New Walk Smart! Safety Campaign; Delaware Embracing Effort As Welll

Biking in Maryland[B' Spokes: This article starts off better then most, keeps up some good messaging scattered throughout but then ends with bad advice for cyclists.]
******************************************************************************************************************************************************************
by DispatchAdmin, Joanne Shriner

OCEAN CITY – State and local leaders officially launched the 2014 Walk Smart! Campaign in Ocean City this week, announcing the effort will be reaching out to Delaware beaches for the first time.

Officials hope to continue the success of last year’s efforts that contributed to a reduction in pedestrian crashes. This summer Walk Smart! partners are expanding the effort in Ocean City and planning to hit Delaware’s beaches.

The Walk Smart!Campaign reminds residents and visitors of roadway basics, such as using crosswalks and signals, and because pedestrian safety is a two-way street, the effort also includes messages directed to drivers to stay alert and stop for pedestrians.
[B' Spokes: note the also directed to drivers bit.]

Last year’s campaign saw a 50-percent decrease in pedestrian-related crashes as well as no pedestrian fatalities along Coastal Highway.
...

According to Peters, SHA is continuing its engineering efforts to increase pedestrian safety with additional signing, timing signals, curb markings and this spring a mid-block pedestrian signal crosswalk on Coastal Highway at 54th Street was added.
[B' Spokes: Accommodating pedestrian desire lines with a mid-block signalized crossing!!! Well that's great news (that I would love to see more of) and that it has been noticed as reducing fatalities.]
...

Vigilant police enforcement and education by Town of Ocean City Police, Maryland State Police and agencies in Delaware will address drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians who are not following the rules of the road.
[B' Spokes: Wow, they are still addressing everyone. Usually they start of this way then quickly degrade to just blaming the victims.]
...

The simple act of our officers approaching pedestrians that have crossed streets unsafely has proven to get the message across.
[B' Spokes: What? No tickets? That's nice.]
...

There are three tips for cyclists to remember. Always ride with the flow of traffic, ride as far to the right of the road as possible, and last but not least follow all the rules of the road,”
[B' Spokes: To be clear, if there is space to be safely out of cars way, then by all means I encourage cyclists to ride there. But to imply riding far right as *possible* is the law is wrong. It is doubly wrong to say this without any plain cloths officers riding as far right as possible and siting drivers who violate the 3' passing law. Fair is far, if we are far right, then cars need to be far left when passing.]
...

http://mdcoastdispatch.com/2014/06/12/bicycle-rules-featured-in-new-walk-smart-safety-campaign-delaware-embracing-effort-as-welll/
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Complete Streets Save NYC Taxpayers Money

Biking Elsewhereby Stephen Miller, Streets Blog

Each year, the city comptroller issues a report on claims settled for and against the city, showing how much New York spends on personal injury and property-damage judgments. Every year, there’s a similar story: Damages from crashes involving drivers of city vehicles rank as one of the top money-losers for taxpayers. A report issued this week by Comptroller Scott Stringer [PDF] is no exception, singling out complete streets as a tool to reduce claims.

While claims against the city have held mostly steady since 2003, motor vehicle claims are down 13 percent to $91.2 million during fiscal year 2013. One potential factor: street design. “NYC DOT has been a national leader in working to transform our roads into ‘complete streets’ that serve a variety of users,” the report says. ”This is not only smart transportation policy, it is also an intelligent way to drive down claims costs.”

Stringer cites a 2006 Federal Highway Administration report on risk management: ”With every passing year, the courts become less and less sympathetic to agencies that have not understood the message: bicyclists and pedestrians are intended users of the roadway.”
...

http://www.streetsblog.org/2014/07/11/stringer-complete-streets-save-city-money/
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Reisterstown Road Streetscape update (addressing our concerns)

Biking in BaltimoreTo follow up on the Reisterstown Road meeting regarding the video detection for bicyclists and the pedestrian phases at key intersections, we have had a meeting with STV consultants, Traffic, and TEC. The following has been discussed and addressed:

· STV and Traffic confirmed that the signal phasing allows for green time for the side streets for every cycle, the video detection will only impact the amount of green time that will be given to the side street. In other words, video detection will not impact WHETHER cyclists on the side street will get green time but how much time is allotted to the green time for the side streets.
· Given there will always be a green phase, this means bicycle detection is not completely necessary. Video detection can be programmed for bicycle detection. However, after doing some research and talking with several other Cities (I spoke with staff at San Francisco, Portland, Chicago) who have used video detection they indicated video is not the optimal type of bicycle detection. Planning is recommending Traffic and TEC consider inductive loop detection for bicyclists and bicycle-friendly push buttons as part of future projects and a possible addition at key locations along this corridor in the future.
· At the meeting, we discussed that the Pedestrian Walk phase should be part of every phase in the cycle and not require actuation with a push button for several key locations along the corridor. Traffic has agreed that they can look into this and accommodate where possible. I will provide them a list of the prioritized intersections.

Many thanks,

Caitlin Doolin
Bicycle and Pedestrian Planner
Baltimore City Department of Transportation
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