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Sunday, December 21 2014 @ 06:40 PM UTC
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WABA's take action page

Bike LawsThe 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.

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The Green Wave in Copenhagen - Video

Biking ElsewhereThe Green Wave in Copenhagen is in place on routes with high levels of bicycle traffic. If you cycle at 20 km/h the lights are timed so that you'll hit green all the way into the city centre.

I rode a section of it one morning and then filmed the rush hour bicycle traffic.

35,000 bikes use this stretch each day.
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Quote of the day

Biking ElsewhereThis is my favorite comment...posted in response to a comment stating that motorists fail to "look" for cyclists...

"Not always. I heard a loud scraping sound one night recently and the first thing I looked for under my car was a bike. Unfortunately, it was my muffler. 20 more dollars down the drain."

Man, that is sick...but it makes me LOL for some reason. I bet the guy was dead seriously defending his practices of "looking" for cyclists.
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David Brooks, Denver and the American Dream

Biking Elsewhere...
I’ve spent some time in the Dutch cities and suburbs. I’ve done it on foot, by car, by train, but it is best seen by bike. I even wrote about it for Urban Land in an article entitled Suburban Snapshots. What I found comparing American and Dutch master planned communities was many similarities that Brooks espouses - open space, pedestrian meeting places, the choice to live in a single family home with a yard, some toys, and perhaps even a boat in the back yard. People here and there like that stuff. It is an American Dream and a Dutch Dream.

The differences are some core values like transportation and affordable housing. Our suburbs have recreational bike trails. The Dutch have bike lanes that take you places you need in your everyday life. Transit is often an afterthought here. The Dutch take transit seriously. When they build new suburbs, few homes or places of work are more than 400 meters (the standard five minute walk) from a bus or rail station. New suburbs also include town centers with a major rail station. 30% of all new housing is affordable. Across the board. Sure it is top down planning, but it is right and largely represents the values of the population. We don’t do that here.

If you look at the built environment, in many ways the Dutch are providing the American Dream better than America is. In the built environment at least.
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Biller's Bikes Havre de Grace Reopens

Cyclist\'s Yellow PagesHavre de Grace's Biller's Bikes has opened its relocated downtown parts and repair shop--new showroom opens in Spring. The business is an active advocate for the East Coast Greenway.

Biller's Bikes, an East Coast Greenway trailhead bikeshop, MD, has re-opened for parts and repair in historic downtown Havre de Grace. Featuring the "Walnut Bar," a place to sit and talk trails and biking, the repair shop is phase one of the downtown relocation.

Phase two, the dramatic bicycle and accessories showroom (a renovated 1920s department store) will open April. Biller's Bikes offers bike rentals, new and used bikes, practical cycling accessories, and Baltimore to Philadephia bike travel resources. An East Coast Greenway kiosk will showcase trail activity.
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Biking ElsewhereThe study identifies several barriers that stand in the way of statewide and local efforts to reduce auto congestion around schools. These are grouped by category:

• Reducing auto congestion is not part of schools’ primary mission or plans as providers of basic education. K-12 schools have few incentives or requirements to reduce auto congestion.
• There is no existing framework to encourage or require congestion reduction around schools. Elementary and secondary schools have been exempted from the CTR Law and generally have not developed a culture or administrative system to reduce employee or student auto use.
• Schools are not sited with the intention of being accessible by foot, bicycle, or transit.

• The Safe Routes to Schools program offers benefits beyond safety and healthy physical activity for students. It is one of WSDOT’s tools to help residents reduce vehicle miles travelled (VMT) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, it does not appear to be linked with or focused on other departmental transportation demand management (TDM) and commute trip reduction (CTR) strategies. Under its current formulation, its key indicators revolve around physical activity and safety, not measures of auto use and student drop offs.

High School
• Schools in our Programs of Interest did not employ disincentives to driving alone such as charging high school students to park or limiting drop-off and pick-up space in front of schools.
• While the post-secondary Programs of Interest charged for parking, they did not manage parking with the intention of reducing demand, unlike the model unlimited access pass programs referenced in Phase 1 of the study.
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Urban Discoveries Living Blog

Biking in Baltimore

[We got some press on another blog, check them out!]

You may have noticed, based on previous posts, that we like public transportation.  If we can make it without a car, we will.  So we were delighted to see that bikers way out in Portland, Oregon were calling Baltimore the “next big bike city.”  It gave us hope.  And then we started to look around and realized that, hey, maybe those crazy Portland types have a point.  In some ways, we’re set up well as the biking city of the future.

This new focus on biking in the city starts, surprisingly, at the top.  Mayor Sheila Dixon is a big proponent of cycling in the city (she even wears a helmet at press conferences!) and has implemented a Bicycle Master Plan and made bicycle use a major piece of the Baltimore Sustainability Plan. Nate Evans, Baltimore’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Planner, predicts that by 2010, two percent of city residents will bike to work.  And all of this is backed up by the recent creation of 42 miles of bikeways throughout the city and 70 new bike racks (made from converted parking meters!) in downtown.

We also have a slew of bike-loving activists, and some of them have blogs. If you’re itching for cycle-centric news, we recommend Baltimore Spokes and the North Baltimore Bike Brigade.

We’re happy to see this progress for pedal pushers in our city.  Do you have any favorite places to bike in the city?  Are there any bike routes that you’d like to see added in Baltimore?

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Stimulus in Maryland

Biking in Maryland...
Compared to all that, the Maryland share of the trillion dollar Obama stimulus plan for transportation will amount to pocket change - approximately half a billion. Vice President Biden was in the state yesterday touting $2.9 million (with an "m") to renovate the Brunswick MARC station as an example of the new stimulus spending. Maryland Transportation secretary John Porcari pointed out that the old platform at Brunswick was tripping up women in high heels. Does this mean that high heels are a key to economic recovery?
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And you think we have it bad

Biking Elsewhereimage
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3-foot rule research

Bike Maryland updatesHello Fellow Bike Advocates:

The hearing for both the Senate (SB428) and House bill (HB496) on the 3 foot rule is this Thursday at 1 pm. I've asked that the meetings be staggered. Your attendance is helpful. Amendments have just been submitted in regard to these bills - see below.

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Maryland should adopt the Idaho stop law.

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The state should support what kind of bicycle facilities?

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