Wednesday, February 18 2009 @ 10:39 PM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
The Maryland General Assembly is now considering several bills that are important for cyclists. Three in particular are being debated by the House Environmental Matters Committee and are particularly deserving of attention. Below is a list of the relevant bills along with a summary of each, and the position WABA is urging you to take on each. At the bottom of this page is a sample letter that you can send to the committee to express your opinion on the legislation. Please note that while WABA has provided you a sample letter below, personal stories are much more effective. It is also recommended that you reach out to your particular House member. A list of members on the Environemental Matters Committee can be found here.
These bills are:
Bill: House Bill 437-Protective Head Gear
WABA Position: Oppose
Summary: This bill would raise the mandatory helmet law age from 15 to 17. While WABA supports the use of bicycle helmets, and helmets are effective in reducing traumatic brain injuries during crashes, helmets to not prevent crashes from happening in the first place. Instead of pursing mandatory helmet laws, which are difficult to enforce, the state should focus on bike education efforts and on policies that foster safe roadway design. Currently, less than 1% of highway safety funds given to the state are used on bike and pedestrian projects.
Bill: House Bill 496-Three Foot Passing Law
WABA Position: Support
Summary: Would establish required motorists to give at least three feet of space when passing cyclists. This bill would also require drivers to yield right of way to cyclists traveling in a bike lane. WABA feels that by establishing a formal safe passing distance drivers can be better educated on how to properly pass cyclists.
Bill: House Bill 1197-Removal of Mandatory Use of Shoulders for Bicyclists
WABA Position: Support
Summary: It explicitly permits cyclists to continue to ride in a shoulder if one is present and that is where the cyclist would prefer to ride, but permits cyclist to take the lane. This is essential when shoulders are less than AASHTO recommended width for safe cycling and the existing law does not address narrow shouders. It removes the ambiguity to determine if a shoulder is of adequate width to require use.