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Tuesday, October 21 2014 @ 08:42 AM UTC
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New $270 billion federal project to build special lanes

Biking ElsewhereWASHINGTON
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HB 143 - 3 foot passing bill dead again?

Bike Maryland updatesHB 143 - Bicycle Safety Bill. Mandates that motorists pass bicycles at a safe distance of at least 3 feet on our roads.

We've worked so hard on this. But it seems that once again the bill to mandate a 3 foot safe passing distance for bicyclists appears dead.

Why? Here are the apparent concerns among some members of the House Environmental Matters Committee: First, some think the law would be unenforceable (not true - its being enforced with citations in Arizona, Utah, Florida and in the 6 other states with similar laws); Second, motorists might be in violation of the law if they tried passing on a very narrow road; Third, bicyclists may inadvertently drift towards a car while the car is passing, thereby coming too close and making the motorist a de-facto lawbreaker.

We can debate the merits of these arguments against HB 143, but here are the facts:

* 9 States have 3 foot passing laws (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Utah, Arizona, Florida......)
* The Maryland MVA Driver's Handbook states on page 61 "that "when passing a cyclist, allow a minimum of three feet clearance".
* Maryland has some of the highest bike crash numbers in the country.
* Most fatal crashes occur mid-block (i.e. cars passing bikes).

So why can't we have a 3 foot law?

It should be noted that Delegate James Malone, the Vice Chair of the Environmental Matters Committee has personally told OLC that he would support working with the State Highway Administration to ensure that a safety campaign focusing on "giving 3 feet" is instituted. This is a welcome step forward.

Regardless, HB 143 is a good bill and if it does not fly this year, we will be back in 2009.

Do us a favor. Send an email to the co-sponsors of HB 143 and tell them thank you for their support of safe cycling in Maryland:
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HB 667 - Safety bill still in House Judiciary Committee

Bike Maryland updatesHB 667 Manslaughter by Vehicle or vessel - Criminal Negligence. SUPPORT. Increases the penalty for negligent motorists who cause the death of another person.

I've talked about this before. If someone drives negligently in Maryland (lets say they are speeding and fumbling with the radio, eyes off the road, etc. etc.) and they hit and kill you, they are slapped with a $500 fine. Sound fair?

The reason for this is that Maryland applies a very high (and increasingly unusual) standard of "gross negligence" to cases where a person's reckless driving causes the death of another. This means that you have to be driving while intoxicated or practically TRYING to mow someone down before you get anything more than the fine.

Case in point - a Howard County police officer was killed last Summer by a person driving well over the speed limit and this driver's punishment was - you guessed it - $500. Sure, it was an accident. But some accidents are avoidable. And negligent driving is VERY avoidable.

HB 667 would remedy this problem by creating the crime of "Manslaughter by Vehicle". It would give a fine and jail time to someone who kills due to reckless and negligent driving. If passed, it would put Maryland in line with over 30 other states with similar laws.

What we want from you is to contact your members of the House of Delegates and ask them if they know about this legislation and if they would support it. If your delegate is on the House Judiciary Committee that is currently reviewing this bill, please make sure to call or email that person.

This bill has died in committee before, but we have to at least bring more attention to it. Right now its flying under the radar and that's a shame.
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Vehicular Crossings - Use by Bicycles

Bike LawsSB 0492 - 3rd Reading Passed (47-0)

Authorizing the use of specified vehicular crossings under the jurisdiction of the Maryland Transportation Authority by pedestrians and bicycles when authorized by the Chairman of the Maryland Transportation Authority.
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Department for Transport apologises over usable cycle lane

Biking Elsewhere
The Rt Hon. Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Transport, issued a full apology today after it transpired that a cycle lane in Wilmslow, Cheshire, did not contain substantial fragments of broken glass, abandoned vehicles or a telephone box placed right in the middle.

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Why wear a helmet?

Biking Elsewhere"You should wear a helmet. If you wore a helmet, I wouldn't NEED to drive more safely."

--Driver to cyclist, after being told to "drive more safely"
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Tips for greener motoring

Health & EnvironmentThe amount of fuel a car uses is directly related to the amount of greenhouse gas emissions it produces. Selecting the right car for your needs and using it wisely will reduce your fuel consumption and help you save money and the environment.

There are three areas to think about when trying to reduce emissions:

* What car you drive
* How you drive
* Where, when & how often you drive
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Area Police Are Enforcing Pedestrian Safety Laws

Biking in Maryland[Note: This program reaches about 29% of the State's problem areas. If it were to include Baltimore City and County it would then include 74% of the State's problem areas. Note: If you live in PG or Mountgomry Co. be extra carful in March as everone is being targeted for tickets.]

Street Smart is an annual public education, awareness and behavioral change campaign in the Washington, DC, suburban Maryland and northern Virginia area. Since its beginning in 2002, the campaign has used radio, newspaper, and transit advertising, public awareness efforts, and added law enforcement, to respond to the challenges of pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

The Street Smart program emphasizes education of motorists and pedestrians through mass media. It is meant to complement, not replace, the efforts of state and local governments and agencies to build safer streets and sidewalks, enforce laws, and train better drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians.

The program is coordinated by the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB), and is supported by federal funds made available through state governments, and funding from some TPB member jurisdictions.

The Spring 2008 Street Smart campaign will run from March 7 to March 31st.

The kick off press event will take place on March 7, 2008 at 10 a.m., in the Baileys Crossing Shopping Center parking lot at Route 7 & South Jefferson Street in Falls Church, VA. To find the site look for transit buses wrapped with Street Smart ads and campaign mobile billboard.
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Why 10mph over the speed limit is ok... only 2X the chance of a crash

Biking ElsewhereStatistics tell us that at 10 MPH over the posted speed limit, the probability of being involved in a crash doubles. However, at 20 MPH over, the probability increases to 11 times greater. We are trying to change the driving behavior of those persons who are most likely to cause crashes."

- Scottsdale, AZ police department on why speeders are allowed an 11mph buffer.
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In search of a champion to win over the (Anti-)Environmental Matters Committee

Bike LawsHB 143 (3' passing) is in serious trouble, it does not have the votes needed to pass the committee so the forecast is that it is going to die in committee. (Please note that there is a correction to our previous statement about Del Malone following.)

The most troubling aspect in this is we really don't know who in the Environmental Matters Committee is not supporting this bill. Wait, what committee is not supporting bicycling?

That's right the Environmental Matters Committee, while Maryland is supporting other more costly green initiatives it is bicycle use, the zero carbon emission transportation that is the scourge of the Environment Matters Committee (EMC). This is going to be the third year in a row that the Environment Matters Committee has given us trouble on a bill of this nature even though past criticisms have been fixed! Enough already!

Kids biking to school - EMC says no, sooty, asthma producing diesel buses are better and a 15-20% increase in morning rush hour traffic of kids being chauffeured is better for the environment then kids on bikes.

Biking to work - EMC says Maryland's bike modal share of about half of the National average is good enough, Having a higher percentage of people who drive single occupancy vehicles is "better" for the environment.

Energy efficiency is often measured in terms of equivalent number of cars off the road, why not get some real cars off the road as well.

Motor vehicle driver's at fault in a crash with a cyclist - EMC says a low 31% at fault drivers is fair, while other states investigated have a near 50:50 who's at fault. This discouraging and anti-cycling bias in Maryland is good for the environment as it gets more people out driving their SUV's and helps keep their insurance rates down.

The increase in mid-block crashes and fatalities for cyclists - EMC says nothing needs to be done about this. In 2006 Maryland had %100 of our cyclists fatalities that were mid-block (29% under 15 years of age,) 52% of all bike/car crashes happen mid-block. It used to be intersections where the most dangerous for cyclists, times have changed and we need laws to reflect that change and the lack of safe passing distance is a contributing factor in mid-block crashes.

Maryland needs to strongly encourage cycling both for the health of the environment and health of its population. Please take the time to respond.

(Note: Statements attributed to EMC are not quotes, only statements about the results of their inaction.)

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Maryland should adopt the Idaho stop law.

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