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Friday, September 19 2014 @ 07:52 PM UTC
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Punitive Damages for Drunk Drivers in Maryland

Bike Lawsfrom Maryland Injury Lawyer Blog

There is a bill in the Maryland General Assembly that would authorize punitive damages against drunk drivers who caused "injury or wrongful death while operating a motor vehicle." Punitive damages would be available against drunk drivers: (1) With a blood alcohol concentration of over .15; or (2) With a blood alcohol concentration of over .08, and was driving on a suspended or revoked license or had entered a plea of nolo contendere or received probation before judgment within the last 5 years.

The Maryland Chamber of Commerce opposes this bill. Why? [No real reason given in the article] ...
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Krasnopoler family pushes for competency tests for Maryland drivers

Bike LawsBy Fern Shen, Baltimore Brew

Krasnopoler is much more comfortable when he’s talking about the tougher driving skills requirements his family is backing in the Maryland General Assembly this session – changes he thinks could prevent tragedies like the Feb. 26, 2011 crash that claimed the life of his son, Nathan Krasnopoler.
“The state is already offering these [functional capacity] tests but they are done by medical referral or voluntarily,” he said. “It would be easy to make them a requirement.”
The family is suggesting the tougher license requirement be added to an MVA-sponsored bill (SB 111) that proposes to increase the amount of time between license renewals from five years to eight years. Not surprisingly, the Krasnopolers oppose that change.

“I can’t think of any reason they would propose this other than to save money,” he says witheringly.

Other Issues

There are two other legislative priorities on the family’s agenda this session, Krasnopoler said yesterday.

One is to increase the consequences of failing to remain on the scene of an accident that results in injuries or death.
Doing so is currently a misdemeanor offense that is rarely enforced because the offender gets no points on their license, he said. (Witnesses said the driver whose car struck Nathan Krasnopoler got out of the car and left it running while the injured cyclist was still pinned underneath it.)

“We want it to be an 8-point infraction so people take it seriously,” Krasnopoler said.

Another change the family seeks is a clarification in the Maryland health surrogacy law that would allow family members to make decisions regarding organ donation even if their incapacitated family member is not on a ventilator.
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The “Ignorance is Bliss” Defense

Bike LawsBy Bob Mionske,

“I didn’t see the cyclist.”

It’s the most common explanation motorists offer after hitting a rider.

Even though the cyclist was wearing high-visibility clothing.

Or was well-lit.

Or was riding in broad daylight.

It’s the “ignorance is bliss” defense: “I didn’t see the cyclist, and I didn’t intend to hit anybody. It was just an accident. It’s nobody’s fault.”

Well, yes, it is somebody’s fault. It’s your fault, it doesn’t matter that you didn’t “intend” to hit somebody. You did hit somebody, and if you didn’t see the cyclist because you weren’t paying attention, it’s your fault.

Let’s be clear about this point, because it’s the other Get Out of Jail Free card that negligent drivers always seem to reach for. Intent is not relevant in determining whether a driver was at fault in an accident. In fact, that’s why we call unintentional collisions “accidents.” If the driver intended to hit somebody, that’s assault. If the driver didn’t intend to hit somebody, that’s an “accident.” But just because the collision was unintentional doesn’t mean that nobody was to blame. Almost all collisions are preventable. If the collision occurred because a motorist didn’t see a cyclist who was plainly visible, guess what? It’s the motorist’s fault.

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Gross Negligence Bar Is High Hurdle

Bike Lawsfrom Maryland Injury Lawyer Blog

Judge Williams said that even if true, these facts fall short of gross negligence, citing Boyer v. State for proposition that gross negligence is inflicting injury with such indifference to "to the rights of others to the extent of acting like the victim had no rights at all." I'm paraphrasing and I still don't know what that means.
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Collateral source rule in Maryland

Bike LawsFYI if you happen to miss work due to a crash with an automobile:

"Maryland has had for - count them - 112 years, that the claimant is paid for time missed from work regardless of whether they used vacation time or their employer paid them out of the goodness of their heart"

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Legalize Changing Lanes to Pass a Bike in No Passing Zones

Bike LawsBy jtitus - WABA

An Opportunity to Help Motorists and Cyclists: A “Change-Lanes-and-Pass” Rule

My neighborhood has many polite drivers who wait behind me as I ride on two-lane MD-953, which has double yellow (no passing) lines the whole way. I am usually in the center of the 10-ft lane, pulling a trailer with my daughter.  Even when I don’t have the trailer, 95% of the drivers wait until the oncoming lane is clear, change lanes, and pass.  And when I am riding toward the right side of the lane for some reason, the vast majority still change lanes to pass.

Countless drivers have probably done you the same favor on another road. But they are technically breaking the law.

We think Maryland should legalize changing lanes to pass a bike riding in a no-passing zone. Not only are these drivers being safe, they actually enhance safety.

Why would cycling organizations initiate a reform that increases motorists’ rights? Aside from the fact that it probably will make us safer, cyclists probably understand this issue better than motorists. Cyclists have discussed many “rules of the road” that make sense for motor vehicles, but do not enhance safety when applied to bicycles. We would love to see those laws reformed. In some cases we may lack the political power to compel the changes we hope to see. But we probably do have the power to secure the right to change lanes and pass a bike when there is a double yellow line. So I think we should.

But Let’s Not Go Too Far: The “Partly-Cross-the-Line and Pass” Rule

By coincidence, some other Maryland advocates are considering a similar reform, but they would go even farther. Their idea is to allow drivers to cross the double yellow line to pass bikes, without the requirement to fully change lanes. This “partly-cross-the-line and pass” rule seems to be motivated by the observation that some cyclists ride far enough to the right so that a car barely has enough room to squeeze between the bike and the yellow line, and some drivers do. This rule would allow motorists to move only partly into the adjacent lane to pass the cyclist by the required three feet.

We prefer the requirement that the motorist fully change lanes. Motorists frequently report difficulty in gauging the three feet of space they are required to leave when passing, so why not apply the normal requirement that motorists change lanes? It is an existing behavior with clear rules and expectations. There is no need to encourage drivers to pass while occupying parts of two lanes.

Additionally, the requirement to change lanes before passing would discourage the idea of “squeezing” around others—whether the cyclist or a potential oncoming motorist. Finally, the State of Maryland will soon start erecting signs that say “Bicycles May Use Full Lane”. We think that “change lanes and pass” better reinforces the message of those signs, than partly crossing the line and sharing the lane.

Over the next few weeks, advocates in Maryland will be deciding which approach to take. While WABA took a major role last year in the promotion and passage of the Maryland vehicular homicide law, this year WABA intends to play a supporting role to Bike Maryland, which frequently leads statewide efforts to enhance cyclists’ rights through state legislation.

(Jim Titus is a member of WABA’s Board of Directors from Prince George’s County)

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    Alert: How many times do we have to correct the state in it's law summaries?

    Bike LawsAround this time last year Baltimore Spokes put the following out for discussion on how to summarize our new 3' law (as the State was issuing the poor summery mentioned here (and poor is a nice word for what they did):) What the 3' law says and doesn't say.

    And we got it corrected to:

    Traffic Laws for Motorists

    • The driver of a vehicle passing another vehicle, including a bicycle, must pass at a safe distance and leave plenty of space.  The driver should be able to see the passed vehicle in the rear view mirror before returning to the original lane. After passing you must make sure you are clear of the bicyclist before making any turns.
    • Drivers shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any bicycle, Electric Personal Assistive Mobility Device (EPAMD), or motor scooter being ridden by a person.
    • The driver of a vehicle must not pass any closer than three (3) feet to a bicycle or motor scooter if the bicycle is operated in a lawful manner. It is not lawful to ride against traffic.
    • The bicycle has the right of way when the motor vehicle is making a turn, and you must yield to bicycle.
    • Motorists must yield the right-of-way to bicyclists riding in bike lanes and shoulders when these vehicle operators are entering or crossing occupied bike lanes and shoulders.
    • ...
    MVA on: Current Bicycle Laws

    Well the Maryland Bikeways Program has the following link BICYCLE LAW FACT SHEET. Which you'll find the following:

    THIS IS WRONG!!! (The law does not say you can buzz cyclists who fail to ride far right.)
    Write Michael Jackson <> and kindly ask to have this file "destroyed" and remove the reference from this page (there may be more then just this page) and replace it with The latter is supposed to be the "master" bike law summery page on which others are based.
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    § 2-602. Public policy

    Bike Laws[B' Spokes: This is Maryland law which I reference from time to time so I thought I should just make a post about it ]

    . The General Assembly finds that it is in the public interest for the State to include enhanced transportation facilities for pedestrians and bicycle riders as an essential component of the State's transportation system, and declares that it is the policy of the State that:

    . (1) Access to and use of transportation facilities by pedestrians and bicycle riders shall be considered and best engineering practices regarding the needs of bicycle riders and pedestrians shall be employed in all phases of transportation planning, including highway design, construction, reconstruction, and repair as well as expansion and improvement of other transportation facilities;

    . (2) The modal administrations in the Department shall ensure that the State maintains an integrated transportation system by working cooperatively to remove barriers, including restrictions on bicycle access to mass transit, that impede the free movement of individuals from one mode of transportation to another;

    . (3) As to any new transportation project or improvement to an existing transportation facility, the Department shall work to ensure that transportation options for pedestrians and bicycle riders will be enhanced and that pedestrian and bicycle access to transportation facilities will not be negatively impacted by the project or improvement; and

    . (4) In developing the annual Consolidated Transportation Program, the Department shall:

    . (i) Ensure that there is an appropriate balance between funding for:

    . 1. Projects that retrofit existing transportation projects with facilities for pedestrians and bicycle riders; and

    . 2. New highway construction projects; and

    . (ii) In transit-oriented areas within priority funding areas, as defined in § 5-7B-02 of the State Finance and Procurement Article, place increased emphasis on projects that retrofit existing transportation projects with facilities for pedestrians and bicycle riders and increase accessibility for the greatest number of pedestrians and bicycle riders.
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    The Idaho stop law - should Maryland adopt?

    Bike LawsB' Spoke: It amazes me how much slack is afforded to motorists and when there is a crack down on "safety" it seems that it is just the cyclists and pedestrians that are targeted. Motorists going 10 mph above the speed limit is perfectly fine, motorists coming to a complete stop in the crosswalk way past the stop bar, well that's OK too but cyclists who do not put their foot down when stopping now that's dangerous and should be get the full vengeance of the law.

    It is time to get back to the spirit of the law and stop trying to get cyclists to do things that only really only make sense for 350 hp 2 ton killing machines then ones driven by human power at human speeds.

    Please participate in our poll and let us know what you think about Maryland adopting the Idaho stop law.

    Except from The Washcycle

    "After one summer of police stings on bikes running stop signs, and a lot of talk, we have reached a reasonable peace treaty on this issue.

    Local law enforcement here in Jackson Hole will ticket a bike that blatantly rolls a stop at speed with no care. Quick $100 fine, and no sympathy from bike advocates like me.

    Legally, bikes are required to stop at Stop signs in Wyoming. However - Jackson Police and Teton County Sheriff have publicly said they will not ticket a bicyclist that:

    - slows cautiously as approaching a stop sign,
    - rider carefully looks left and right, fully in control and able to stop,
    - rider signals properly if making a turn,
    - rider does not fully stop but continues after determining it is safe to do so.

    Our Sheriff and police have determined this is equal to a STOP and they will not harass cyclists. We agree."

    After one summer of police stings on bikes running stop signs, and a lot of talk, w
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    Stronger ban on texting and driving takes effect Sat

    Bike Lawsfrom Maryland Politics by Annie Linskey

    Glancing at a text message or an email from behind the wheel will cost $500 in fines starting Saturday when a new law goes into effect clarifying Maryland’s muddled driving-while-texting rules.
    Maryland drivers also aren’t supposed to talk on their cell phones per a year-old law, but doing so is remains a “secondary offense” meaning police can only pull over a driver who is also breaking another rule.

    Drivers will still be able to use GPS systems on their phone while driving, or text an emergency operator.

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    Maryland should adopt the Idaho stop law.

    •  Strongly agree
    •  Mostly agree
    •  Undecided
    •  Mostly disagree
    •  Strongly disagree
    This poll has 0 more questions.
    Other polls | 570 votes | 0 comments

    The state should support what kind of bicycle facilities?

    •  Off-road bike trails
    •  On-road bike accommodations only on State roads
    •  On-road bike accommodations only on County roads
    •  All of the above
    This poll has 0 more questions.
    Other polls | 610 votes | 3 comments

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