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Thursday, November 27 2014 @ 10:28 AM UTC
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Cyclists are important users of transportation systems

Biking ElsewhereFrom Trans Secretary LaHood -

On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of addressing the National Bike Summit. I was invited to speak as a member of the Obama administration, but I have been a supporter of bicycling for many years and was a member of the Congressional Bike Caucus when I was in Congress.

Still, I don't think the League of American Bicyclists knew what to expect when they invited me to their summit.

I hope they were pleasantly surprised because I am committed to investing in programs that encourage bikes to coexist with other modes and to safely share our roads and bridges. And there’s strong support in Congress for these goals as well.

In the Department of Transportation, bicyclists have a full partner in working toward livable communities. We're excited that the Federal Highway Administration is looking at best practices in Europe to improve safety and mobility for walkers and cyclists. We're excited that a federally funded pilot project to study the effects of improved walking and bicycling facilities in four communities is underway. I think I conveyed that excitement to the summit, judging by the early response (,

I welcome the vigor of the bicycling community in advocating for bike-friendly measures in the upcoming authorization bill, CLEAN-TEA. Bicycles are a critical part of a cleaner, greener future in American transportation, so keep those wheels spinning.
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Looking for local rides(ers)

Annual Event to Raise Funds for Autism Research image

BALTIMORE, MD – This year, families throughout the region will once again come together to “ROAR” for the millions of children with autism who cannot. Celebrating its 5th anniversary, Kennedy Krieger Institute’s annual fundraiser ROAR for Autism will be held on Saturday, April 25 at Oregon Ridge Park. Following a successful 2008 fundraiser that featured over 1,000 participants, once again teams of families and friends will participate in the activity-filled event that helps raise critically needed funds for autism research. Autism, a complex, life-altering, developmental disorder, affects 1 in every 150 children.

ROAR for Autism will feature events and activities for every member of the family including challenging 50- and 25- mile rides, a 10-mile ride for recreational bikers, a 5-mile ride designed for beginner cyclists, and a kid’s youth fun ride. For those who prefer to stay off the road and in the woods, hiking trails at Oregon Ridge will be open with guides available to lead tours. In addition to the hiking and biking activities, there will also be a family fun festival including face painting, children’s entertainment, and the popular Wegman’s Wellness Village featuring healthy food for all families including those with children on special autism diets.

With last year marking the successful introduction of the online team fundraising component, participants can once again go online to register, join a fundraising team, and to build a personal fundraising page to raise money from supporters. Additionally, “Snore for ROAR” is an option again this year for those individuals who can’t quite get out of bed that early but want to make their voice heard and “ROAR” for autism research. For more information about ROAR, or to register, visit or call 443-923-7300.

All cyclists and hikers can register either solo or as a team. Rest stops and bike repair services will be available along the bike routes.

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Buffer zone a good idea for cyclists, even the irksome ones

Bike LawsBy Michael Dresser | Getting There, Baltimore Sun March 16, 2009

Bicyclists are obnoxious.

On any sunny spring day, you'll find them infesting the country roads surrounding Baltimore looking freakishly fit in their Spandex outfits and dweeby helmets. You just know they're a bunch of smug, greener-than-thou elitists whose greatest joy - apart from forcing motorists to crawl along at 10 mph while they drift toward the middle of the road - is to lecture you about your carbon footprint.

So I can sympathize with those members of an Annapolis House subcommittee who would really prefer to kill Del. Jon S. Cardin's bill to establish a 3-foot buffer zone for bicyclists when cars are passing them. It would be galling to hand a victory to those irksome people - half of whom don't seem to think the rules of the road apply to them. Why reward their bad behavior?

Because it's a good bill. And it's needed.

House Bill 496, along with the companion Senate measure that received preliminary approval last week, would write into Maryland law an evolving national standard that has been adopted in at least 20 states. It won't cost the state money. The State Highway Administration and AAA have endorsed it. Nobody testified against it when it came up for a hearing. It could save a life or two.

Nevertheless, Cardin told me Friday, the bill's prospects are hanging by a thread in the House subcommittee. The Baltimore County Democrat said it isn't being lobbied to death, but it has touched a nerve of resentment among some legislators.

They've seen the way some bicyclists behave. They've seen them scoot through red lights where vehicles are stopped. They see them flagrantly going the wrong way on one-way streets. They see them riding side by side and taking up a whole lane of a two-lane road, oblivious to the vehicle traffic stacking up behind them. Why would anyone possibly want to pass a law on behalf of those people?

Because it's the right thing to do.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of who does what to whom on the roads, the mismatch in weight and vulnerability between motor vehicles and bicycles is extreme. And the law protects the vulnerable, even when the vulnerable get on our nerves.

And, hard as it is to accept, there are many law-abiding, courteous bicyclists who would never dream of lecturing you about your vehicular decisions. These bicyclists tell me the law is urgently needed.

Take Adam Berg, a 35-year-old recycling business owner from Stevenson, who said he does his best to stay close to the white line on the right of the road. But that doesn't stop some drivers from passing him as closely as possible - sometimes deliberately.

"They still buzz you. It happens all the time," he said.

Berg said that the wind forces generated when a vehicle - particularly a truck - passes too closely alternately push a bicycle away and then pull it back toward the vehicle. He said that he hasn't been blown over but that he's come close to being dragged into the side of a passing truck.

One concern that always comes up in writing traffic laws is how they will be enforced. It's definitely an issue with the subcommittee chair, Del. James E. Malone of Baltimore County. And rightly so.

It's true there's no way to measure exactly the distance between every bicycle and every passing car, but this law would certainly be just as enforceable as the current statute on tailgating. We leave such judgment calls to police officers. Why not with vehicles passing bicycles? You're not going to see many officers writing tickets for vehicles passing 2 feet, 11 inches from bicycles. But many judges would give weight to an officer's estimate that a vehicle passed within a foot of a bicyclist.

And sadly, there are cases where there is actual contact - often with a protruding side-view mirror. It won't hurt the car much, but the damage to the bicyclist can be serious. For the motorist in such a case, a ticket for violating the buffer zone would be both deserved and provable.

Even if there aren't a ton of convictions for buffer-zone offenses, many bicyclists believe there is value in simply making it The Law.

"It helps to educate," said Paul DeSantis, a 35-year-old bicyclist from Freeland in northern Baltimore County. Once the law is on the books, he said, the rule will find its way into driver's ed classes. Maybe even the driver's license exam. There's value in that.

If subcommittee members are still having trouble getting their heads around the notion of voting for a pro-bicyclist bill, it might help to put a face on a person it might protect.

Delegates, imagine your best friend has a young adult son or daughter who is enjoying a glorious day pedaling through the scenic valleys outside Baltimore. That bicyclist is obeying the law, staying as far right as possible. But the driver coming up from behind at 50 mph is in a hurry, feeling stressed and in a bad mood.

Consider the worst - and how you'd explain a "No" vote to your friend.

Besides Malone, the bill's fate lies in the hands of Dels. Saqib Ali, Alfred C. Carr Jr., Barbara Frush, Cheryl Glenn, Anne Healey, H. Wayne Norman, Andrew Serafini, Dana M. Stein and Paul Stull. If someone you love is one of those obnoxious bicyclists, you might want to let them know how you feel.
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London’s Cycling Design Standards: A Model for NYC or here?

Biking Elsewhere

As New York City begins fulfilling its commitment to build 200 miles of new bicycle lanes over the next three years, the question will increasingly arise: What kind of bike lane should go where? Currently, DOT seems not to have any set of guidelines to answer that question. So, take a look at how the City of London does it.

Transportation Alternatives' bike program director Noah Budnick pointed me to the London Cycling Design Standards book. It is a remarkable document and, perhaps, a great model for New York City to follow.

The chart below can be found in Chapter 4, page 62. With vehicle volume on one axis and speed on the other, it establishes a general set of rules for when a street should have a physically-separated, "segregated" bike lane versus when bikes should mix with "calmed" motor vehicle traffic. Note that London has long-since stopped debating whether or not physically-separated bike lanes are a good and necessary thing.


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B:C:Clettes vs. Sexy Back on Youtube

Biking ElsewhereI wear a helmet so you can drive like an idiot. And because it looks smart.
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Auto Bailout? Nothing new!

Biking Elsewhereby Peter Saint James

Is bailing out auto manufacturers really such a new and radical idea? Or should we perhaps consider carmakers wards of the state already?

Many people believe that gas taxes and other auto-generated revenue pick up the bills for roads and other auto-related expenses. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some researchers conclude that if gas taxes really paid for what many people think they pay for, pump prices would probably be somewhere around $25 per gallon.

If you paid that much for gas, you would probably eliminate a lot of trips you make now. Wouldn’t you realize they aren’t cost effective? For example, you would probably refuse to pay so much to drive a couple of miles just to get a bag or two of groceries, wouldn't you? Wouldn’t everyone do things in better, easier, cheaper ways? How would this change the way our cities look and feel?

Driving really does cost that much. Driving is not cost effective. You pay those expenses through taxes and other means and only because you don’t know you’re paying them and have to pay them to keep from going to jail. If you did know and had a choice, you’d probably stop. You’re not that stupid, are you? You'd probably see it’s not worth it, wouldn't you? Is that why the costs are hidden so well?

So how much do autos cost? What are the real figures? Does anyone know for sure?

We can figure out impossible numbers like how many molecules exist in the universe, how many stars in Andromeda Galaxy, and other enormous numbers, but we can’t seem to get a handle on auto expenses. Many researchers, including me, have tried. A whole government agency was set up just to get that number. Everyone comes up with different totals. Even the same person comes up with different numbers on different attempts. Many argue that their figures are right, but in reality everyone has points to be taken into consideration. Transportation is so divorced from reality, so alien from sound economic and accounting principles, that getting exact figures remains nearly impossible.

Here are just a few of the complex, controversial problems.

Gas taxes don’t fully pay road building and maintenance expenses. Most road money comes out of general funds. That’s easy. We can find most of that money.

But what about other government activities and agencies? Gas taxes don’t fund them, but autos obviously inflict some or all of their costs. Most police agencies don’t get much from gas taxes if anything at all. Yet don’t most of them regulate traffic, search for stolen cars, and so on? About half of fire department calls are to cars, not houses or businesses. That’s auto expense, isn’t it?

And look at bigger agencies. EPA deals with pollution. Cars cause significant pollution. What portion of EPA budget should be considered auto expense?
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Prince George\'s County Bill Threatens Trail Easements



A bill to severely restrict trail easements is on the Prince George's County Council's Planning, Zoning, and Economic Development Committee agenda for next Wednesday, March 18. The bill (CB-10-2009, see attached file), introduced by Tony Knotts, would keep trail easements from being created on “individually residentially zoned lots” and place severe restrictions on building trails on existing easements. Restrictions would include having the trail open to the public only between 9 am and 4 pm, gating the trail when it is not open to the public, and having M-NCPPC Park Police man security posts every 1,000 feet.


Trail easements are frequently established as a condition for the approval of new subdivisions, and they are an important way to expand our future trail system. We need to inform the County Council that the easements are an important element of the County's overall policy for improving bicycle and pedestrian access.


The March 18 committee meeting (see attached agenda) will be at 10 am, Room 2027, County Administration Building. Committee meeting are open to the public, but usually there is no public comment period. If the committee goes along with the bill, there will be a  public hearing later and then the vote by the entire council. Before next Wednesday’s committee meeting, we need to have people e-mail, write or phone committee members asking them to oppose this bill and any other attempts to deny the public use of public trail easements.

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The Wild Bunch (NYC)

Biking Elsewhere...
Though bikers are hated, pedestrian deaths and injuries on Ninth Avenue in Chelsea immediately declined in the area of the physically separated bike lane, as reported on, news blog of the Livable Streets Initiative, which advocates creating sustainable cities. In December, Community Board 4 voted in favor of creating a bike lane on Eighth Avenue between 14th and 23rd Streets.
The Brooklyn Bridge is an important front in the bike publicity war; it is a place where bikes are losing. The essential conflict can be grossly caricatured like this: Guys dressed as if they are in the Pyrenees stage of the Tour de France try to set speed records as Italian tourists linger in the middle of the bridge to get a photo of their cousin, Paolo, backed by the Empire State Building.

Bikers won’t stop, fearing they will lose a few tenths of a second off their times; and tourists from former Soviet republics confuse the phrase “Get out of the bike lane, you jerk” with “Enjoy your stay.”
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HB 1197 (removal of manitory shoulder use and righ of way in crosswalks)

Bike Maryland updatesThe Legislative Priorities Update developed for the Bicycle Symposium did not include information on HB 1197 due to the late nature of the filing. I submitted testimony for One Less Car, the Baltimore Bicycle Club and 1000 Friends of Maryland.

Some good news, Senator Raskin called me earlier tonight to inform me that SB 428, the three-foot bicycle safety rule, came out of Judicial Proceedings favorably with all but one Senator voting in favor of the bill! Thank you Eric, Jim H. and Greg for joining with me to testify on the bill.

Carol Silldorff, M.P.A.
Executive Director
One Less Car
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SENATE BILL 784 Vehicle Laws - Motorcycle at a Red Signal - Affirmative Defense

Bike LawsProviding an affirmative defense for the operator of a motorcycle [and bicyclists] to the charge of entering or crossing an intersection against a red traffic signal in violation of specified provisions of law; and establishing specified elements to the affirmative defense.

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Maryland should adopt the Idaho stop law.

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