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Saturday, June 25 2016 @ 08:35 AM UTC
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A blueprint for a green agenda

Mass TransitPRESIDENT-ELECT Barack Obama intends to make an economic stimulus package a priority, with the emphasis on investments in public works infrastructure. While moving quickly is important, this is an opportunity for more coherent planning that accomplishes multiple goals.
However, special attention should be paid to the kinds of infrastructure projects to be funded, and how these projects fit into a broader, long-range plan. We're at a transformational moment when economic competitiveness, energy independence, responding to climate change, and developing a transportation system for the 21st century can all converge. The New England region can do its part by being ready with a model plan that transcends traditional boundaries.
The Obama administration should assess the projects that will bring infrastructure systems into the 21st century, jump-start the economy, and prepare for the post-carbon, post-cheap oil future. Not just any old infrastructure will do.

Instead of new highways, which often enable unsustainable land development patterns, the policy should be "fix it first" - keeping existing roads and bridges in a state of good repair. The major infrastructure projects in any stimulus package should emphasize transit - bus systems, streetcars, light rail, and inter-city rail - and moving more freight capacity to rail as well.
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Why bicycling should be a top priority for the State

Biking in Maryland* Per US DOT survey 73% would welcome new and improved bicycle facilities#1
* Per NHTSA survey 89% of bike trips begin at a residence and only 7% at a recreational site#2
* Over 75% of all car trips in the US are for distances under ten miles and nearly 60% are for distances under five miles.#3 (Easy biking distances for a reasonably healthy adult.)
* Per recommendations of TFAH and RWJF increase access to safe, accessible places for physical activity in communities. Examples include creating and maintaining … bike lanes and providing incentives for smart growth designs that make communities more livable#4
* School districts in Maryland are consolidating bus stops, canceling field trips and forcing students to walk longer distances to school to control fuel costs.#5 (But in reality it will be putting more cars on the road.)
* Parents driving their kids to school contributes as much as 20% of rush hour traffic#6
* Bicycling is a major source of childhood injuries but being a passenger in a car is the leading source of childhood injury#7
* Motor vehicle traffic fatalities is the leading cause of death for the ages 1-34#8
* The second leading cause of death in the United States is inactivity just behind tobacco#9

Sad stats for Maryland:
* Maryland has had statistically significant increases in the obesity rate for three years in a row per the F as in Fat Report.#10
* Maryland ranks the 6th worst state (up from number 9) for bicycle and pedestrian fatalities per all traffic fatalities per FARS#11
* Maryland ranks 35 out of 50 for bike friendliness per the League of American Bicyclists.#12
* Maryland ranks the 5th lowest bike/ped spending per capita for the last 3 years, spending $1.61/capita/year with the National average of $6.14 and the National high of $38.16.#13
* Maryland spends 0.62% of its Federal Funds on Bike/ped projects the National average is 1.78% and a National high of 5.40%#14

So we wounder why is our state below the national average of the modal share of biking to work?

Federal Law requires that a bike network be identified - and a decent one has been identified but not funded.#15 Without funds, area bike plans have laid dormant for years.
Despite policies to improve bicycle access and projects to improve bicycling in the area the net gain is virtually nil, more attention is needed.

The FHWA says:
* Provide 20:80 match to "create more walkable and bicycle-friendly communities." #16
* Bicycle projects must be "principally for transportation, rather than recreation, purposes.#17
* Provision of safety and educational activities for pedestrians and bicyclists,#18

But MDOT says:
* Federal Aid should only go to jurisdictions that are in the least need of Federal Aid by upping the matching requirements to 50:50 (Jurisdictions with the most need generally get less funding) (Priorities need to be established to get funding (in order of need) to Baltimore City, Montgomery, Baltimore, Prince George's and Anne Arundel Counties.)
* Transportation Enhancement funding can only be spent on recreational trails.#19
* The inclusion of quality material in the State's Drivers' Manual for the responsibility of motorists in regards to bicyclists and pedestrians safety as well as the rights of bicyclists and pedestrians is too expensive (it will add additional pages) and adding more then 20 questions to the drivers test will make it too hard.

Additionally, more attention is needed to enforce, prosecute and levy fair and just punishments to those who disobey traffic laws (no more hand slaps #20) as well as enforcement of bicycle and pedestrian safety. This also has the added benefit of reducing crime.#21
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Can kids just be kids?

Biking ElsewhereIn the last 30 years, our children have lost a lot of the freedom and independence they once had to explore our neighborhoods. As we have designed our communities around automobiles, activities like walking or bicycling to school have declined dramatically.

In one generation:
• The number of kids walking or bicycling to school has dropped from 71% to 18%.1
• The number of total walking and bicycling trips made by children has fallen by 65%.2,3
Today, more than two-thirds of all trips by 5-15 year olds are made as car passengers.3

Reduced childhood activity has contributed to health and transportation problems:
• There are more than three times as many overweight kids today as there were 25 years ago.4
• More than 1 in 3 young people in grades 9–12 do not regularly engage in vigorous physical activity.4
• As much as 20% of morning rush hour traffic can be parents driving kids to school.5
• School bus transportation is frequently the second largest budget item for school districts after salaries.6

Imagine discovering a way to:
• Reduce traffic accidents involving child pedestrians by 80%.
• Take one out of every five cars off the road during the morning rush hour.
• Reduce school transportation costs.
• Increase childhood physical activity to help reduce incidences of diabetes and obesity.
• Give children the same freedom and independence enjoyed by Baby Boomers when they were kids.
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County Announces 10 Percent Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goal

Health & Environment[The question is if bicycling will be made more attractive to reduce Vehicular Miles Traveled (VMT) as it is the largest component of Baltimore County's Green House gases. If I can prevent 5 metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere (~34% reduction compared to the average) just with my bike, getting others to bike more can go a long way.]

"As a parent, I am keenly aware of the importance of preserving our planet for our children and grandchildren," said Baltimore County Council Chairman Kevin Kamenetz. "The council has been very supportive of environmental initiatives, and it is very important that county government lead the way in the effort to reduce our carbon footprint.

[How about giving our children an opportunity to bike and be healthy as well?]
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New Recreational Trail Officially Opened

Bike PathsAt a ribbon cutting ceremony on November 20, Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith, 4th District Councilman Ken Oliver, Delegate Dan Morhaim, Recreation and Parks Director Bob Barrett and community officials celebrated the official opening of the new recreational trail in the Owings Mills New Town area. The County converted what had been an abandoned section of Dolfield Road into the Red Run Stream Valley Trail, now a level, 20-foot wide wooded trail suitable for a variety of recreational uses like walking, biking and in-line-skating. Trail amenities include a new bridge to replace the previous one, which had become unusable.
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The cost of a high bar to convict

Bike Laws[An excerpt from my mail box:]

While Md law needs to become more equitable toward bicyclists, the law merely defines the boundary of proper conduct and doesn't teach one how to drive a car or ride a bicycle in traffic. One philosophy is that the fewer laws the better. The design of rotarys, merge areas, and certain shopping centers like Hunt Valley Mall illustrate this philosophy.

While motorists should generally stay out of bike lanes (and shoulders), there are certain exceptions like preparing to make a right hand turn or parking, where permitted. Md Law also permits traffic to use a right hand shoulder to go around traffic preparing to make a left hand turn.

Unfortunately, current Md Law has a high bar to convict someone of automobile manslaughter. Generally to convict, a driver must be either drunk or guilty of three or more violations. Bicyclists aren't the only ones harmed by this high threshold. People in a limo who were going straight were broadsided by a left turning truck who failed to yield the right of away. Several people in the limo were killed, and the Attorney General refused to prosecute the truck driver for manslaughter, saying that failure to yield didn't meet Md's stringent requirements. Another example several years ago was several people who were killed while waiting on the SIDEWALK of Woodlawn Blvd in dry weather for a bus. A car doing 50+ in a 30 MPH zone jumped the curb and killed several people. Again, this speeding violation didn't meet Md's threshold for an automobile manslaughter conviction, and the driver merely got a $500 fine for each person he killed.
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UPS delivers by bike this holiday season

Biking ElsewhereHere in the Portland metropolitan area, 28 bike delivery employees will be hired -- by United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS). It may seem counterintuitive, but here in Portland, Oregon, where we crazy passionate types embrace bicycling so warmly that monthly group bike rides for kids continue even through the winter, the concept of hauling up to 200 pounds in a trailer with a mountain bike sounds like the perfect holiday vacation. UPS bike drivers will be given special training to really practice pulling 200 pounds and learn, for instance, "safe following distance in rain" (I think if you're following anyone too closely with 200 pounds in your bike trailer, you should be training for the 2012 Olympics, not delivering packages for UPS.)

UPS can only deliver 25-50 packages per day by bicycle, compared to up to 150 by truck, but Portland area spokesman Jeff Grant says UPS will save $38,000 in vehicle operation and upkeep costs for every three delivery bicycles used.

After all, UPS started using bicycles to deliver packages 100 years ago in Seattle, and started a pilot program in Atlanta and Seattle last year. Bicycle delivery is ideal for the holiday season as it allows the company to expand its service without having to expand its fleet of expensive delivery vehicles; bikes are about $600 each, and judging by the reaction to popular biking blogs, the company will have no trouble filling the available jobs with bikers eager to prove their mettle. It's not only sensible economics, but fantastic PR for a company that struggles with a rather stodgy image. Expanding the bike delivery program for all the company's busy seasons would be a fiscally responsible plan that could also pay big dividends in customer good will.
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Safe Travels Evaluating Mobility Management Traffic Safety Impacts

Biking ElsewhereAbstract
This paper investigates the relationships between mobility (the amount people travel) and crash risk, and the traffic safety impacts of mobility management strategies that change travel patterns to increase transportation system efficiency. Although many factors affect traffic crash rates, evidence summarized in this paper indicates that all else being equal, per capita traffic crash rates increase with per capita vehicle travel, and that mobility management strategies tend to provide safety benefits. Strategies that reduce per capita vehicle travel tend to reduce overall crash risk. Mode shifting tends to reduce per capita crash rates by reducing risk per mile and total mileage. Shifting vehicle travel from more- to less-congested conditions tends to reduce crash frequency but may increase crash severity due to higher traffic speeds. Smart growth land use policies tend to reduce crash severity and fatality rates, although crash frequency may increase due to increased traffic density. Strategies that reduce traffic speeds provide significant safety benefits. Conventional traffic risk analysis tends to understate the safety impacts of changes in mileage. This analysis indicates that mobility management is a cost effective traffic safety strategy, and increased safety is one of the largest benefits of mobility management.
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Motor Vehicle Occupant and Pedestrian Fatalities

Biking ElsewhereMotor vehicle traffic deaths remain the leading cause of death among Americans aged between 1 and 34 years. In 2001, traffic crashes accounted for about 38000 deaths, of which an estimated 4700 were pedestrians. 1 Although only about 5% of all trips are made on foot,2 pedestrian fatalities make up about 12% of all traffic deaths, making walking one of the most dangerous modes of travel.3

[Baltimore traffic fatality rate is 74% higher then New York City.]
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Baltimore Bike Routes in Google Earth

Biking in BaltimorePreliminary draft, but we are working on getting this information out there. Or in Google Maps.

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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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