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Thursday, April 24 2014 @ 10:29 PM UTC

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Watchdog: Clarifying the road rules for bicyclists

Biking in MarylandBy ALLISON BOURG, Capital Gazette

Problem: Paul Fields of Crownsville started noticing the signs on county roads over the last few months. “Bicyclists may use the full lane,” they say.
...

Matt Diehl, a spokesman for the Anne Arundel’s Department of Public Works, said the county has installed the signs Fields has noticed on about a dozen roads to remind drivers of what the law is.

Bicyclists have the right to use the entire lane if the lane is too narrow for a bicycle or motor scooter and another vehicle to travel safely side by side. Buck said the state defines that as 13 feet. So if a road, including travel lane and shoulder, is 13 feet or less, a bicycle can take the full lane.
...

On other roads, bicyclists traveling more than 10 mph under the posted speed limit are considered slow moving vehicles and should stay as far to the right as possible, Buck [spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration] said.

http://www.capitalgazette.com/news/local/watchdog/watchdog-clarifying-the-road-rules-for-bicyclists/article_8e010713-e830-50d8-80f0-5947cf654086.html

B' Spokes: Confused? We can take the lane but we have to ride as far right as possible??? It is if they want this sign instead:
imagePhoto credit: John Brooking

So let's look at the slow moving vehicle law:
§ 21-301.(b) Special rule for slow-moving traffic. -- On every roadway, except while overtaking and passing another vehicle going in the same direction or when preparing for a lawful left turn, any vehicle going 10 miles an hour or more below the applicable maximum speed limit or, if any existing conditions reasonably require a speed below that of the applicable maximum, at less than the normal speed of traffic under these conditions, shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic...


I will also note that cyclist road position is governed by SUBTITLE 12. OPERATION OF BICYCLES AND PLAY VEHICLES in the Transportation code.
§ 21-1202. Traffic laws apply to bicycles and motor scooters
Every person operating a bicycle or a motor scooter in a public bicycle area has all the rights granted to and is subject to all the duties required of the driver of a vehicle by this title, including the duties set forth in § 21-504 of this title, except:
(1) As otherwise provided in this subtitle; and


See § 21-1205. Riding on roadways or on highway, which Matt Dieh did a good summary of. (That is the bicycle subtitle provides the road position position for cyclists and not the (slow moving) motor vehicle code but they are similar in lane position but not in other things like the slow moving vehicle emblem requirement.)

It's pretty obvious that David Buck has gotten the cycling rules wrong, even more damaging when talking about the “Bicyclists may use the full lane” sign.

And it's not the first time someone at MDOT got the law wrong in total contradiction to the main subject.

So respectfully ask that SHA issue a correction and write:

James Smith <secretary@mdot.state.md.us>
David Buck <communications@sha.state.md.us>
John Kuo <jkuo@mdot.state.md.us>
Michael E. Jackson <mjackson3@mdot.state.md.us>

And sugjest that it might be a good idea for them to watch this excerpt from the police training video.
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Utilities as Neighbors: PEPCO vs. Transcontinental

Biking in Maryland[B' Spokes: The major problem with adding bikeways to roads is the limited right-of-way but we have miles and miles of under utilized right-of-way under power lines that would make excellent connections for cyclist. But the utility companies in Maryland have no interest in even allowing accommodations for cyclists This needs to be corrected!!!]

How does a trail benefit a utility company?

  • Paved trails give utilities a free access road for their maintenance trucks.

  • Trail users act like a volunteer security patrol, discouraging illicit activity like vandalism just by their presence.

  • With laws and agreements shielding the utilities from any liability and costs for the trails, there is virtually no down side.

  • "In our 35 years of planning, designing and constructing trails, we have always found the utility companies around here to understand that the trail users constitute unpaid "eyes and ears" to deter vandalism. Further when we design trails we often facilitate their use by the utility companies for maintenance of their lines. With a good trail, restored or replacement bridges and the like, the companies realize their cooperation will save them money." Bob Thomas, Campbell Thomas & Co., Philadelphia PA

With trails providing mutual benefits to both the public and the utility companies, why do some utility companies embrace trails, while other utility companies with identical ROWs oppose them?

Simply put, the main obstacle to building trails along power lines is the attitude of the utility company.

If the utility company sees the public as friends and neighbors, and it wants its ROW to be a positive amenity for the surrounding community, it will find a way to allow trails to be built. It will take full advantage of its state's Recreational Use Statute. It will reach out to local governments looking for opportunities to build trails along the ROWs, and actively negotiate agreements that protect and benefit all sides. Trail inclusion becomes the default condition, instead of being the rare exception.

If the utility company sees the public as a threat, or it just doesn't care about the surrounding community, it will find an endless list of objections to building any trail. Opportunities will be squandered. Sadly, its ROWs will be as attractive as living next to a state prison, with nothing but No Trespassing signs to greet you.



From: http://www.pedestrians.org/topics/row.htm
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Maryland a net loser as taxpayers migrate

Biking in Maryland[B' Spokes: This is why I support bicycling... not many really want to live in a place where you "need" a car to get around. Now add to that getting around by car here is misery. Instead of using anything close to a grid road system there is some rule here that east west roads cannot be longer than a few miles and they idealize lollipop development (too many minor streets close off when they reach a development), too much stress that business cannot share parking lots unless a strip mall and each business "needs" at least two bidirectional driveways but ideally three or four. All this makes for a very unpleasant biking and walking experience as well as an unpleasant driving experience, too many opportunities for conflicting movements. Being overly car centric not only hurts biking and walking it creates driving misery as well.]
**********************************************************************************
Via Maryland Reporter

... with Maryland losing $5.5 billion in taxable income along with 66,000 residents. [Ranking of 43, that's really bad.]
...

http://marylandreporter.com/2013/08/21/maryland-a-net-loser-as-taxpayers-migrate/
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Frederick, Md., Mayor Begins 2nd Term

Biking in MarylandVia CSN Baltimore

...
In his first four-year term, McClement heavily promoted biking. His administration created an annual high-wheel bicycle race through the downtown.
...

http://www.csnbaltimore.com/article/frederick-md-mayor-begins-2nd-term
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What's it Like to Be a Cyclist on the Road in Maryland?

Biking in Maryland

Via Edgewater Patch
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Maryland Cycling Safety

Biking in Maryland[B' Spokes: A nice edited version of the police training video so that it's under two minutes.]
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Vehicle Accidents in Maryland Involving Bikes Increase Sharply in Last Five Years

Biking in Maryland by Capital News Service

There were 841 accidents between cars and bikes in Maryland in 2012, according to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, a 5 percent increase over the 799 bike-car accidents in 2008.

Harford County resident Pam Moore never worried about sharing the road with cars until she was struck by one while riding her bike in August. She lost consciousness and suffered a collapsed lung, broken ribs, abrasions and a concussion from the accident, she said.

“There was nothing I could do different,” Moore said. “I was following the laws. I was where I was supposed to be.”

In 2012, five people in Maryland died from bike-car crashes and 689 people were injured.

Many motorists do not view bicycles as vehicles that have an equal right to use the road, said Neil Buchness, president of Chesapeake Spokes, a bicycle group in Harford County.

“We’re actually people. We aren’t just something to contend with in the road or go around,” he said. “Give us a little more respect out on the road.”

Buchness said the state needs to ensure motorists know the law.

“I think the biggest thing that will help us is education. Getting it out there. The more people that realize that we are cyclists and we do have a right to the road,” the better, Buchness said.

According to the law, drivers must leave three feet between their car and bicyclists when passing them on the road.

“I think a lot of motorists feel that bicyclists are trespassing on the public roadways and that leads to resentment,” said Michael Jackson, director of bicycle and pedestrian access for the Maryland Department of Transportation.
...

http://chestertownspy.com/2013/11/29/vehicle-accidents-involving-bikes-increase-sharply-on-last-five-years-7/
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Who can get justice for Patricia Cunningham?

Biking in Marylandby Jim Titus, Edgewater Patch

Cyclists from around the state of Maryland were appalled last week when an Anne Arundel County grand jury failed to indict Whitney DeCesaris for negligent homicide in the death of Patricia Cunningham, an Annapolis High School coach who was killed on Riva Road by Ms. DeCesaris's bad driving. The grand jury did indict her for a few traffic offenses such as negligent driving.

Shortly after the crash, I suggested in a Patch blog that the available information strongly suggested that this was negligent homicide (a misdemeanor with a maximum 3-year prison sentence), and urged people to email the State's Attorney. About 600 people did so, and it's clear that her office seriously investigated the possible homicide. I can not say whether the case was well-presented to the grand jury or not. If not, then the prosecutors can try again to get an indictment. The 5th Amendment's prohibition of double jeopardy does not apply to grand jury investigations. If she pleads guilty to one of the traffic offenses, however, the 5th amendment will bar additional prosecution.

A criminal conviction of Ms. DeCesaris, however, is not the only means of achieving at least a modicum of justice. Of course no one can bring Ms. Cunningham back, so any talk about justice is relative. The goals of criminal punishment include retribution, prevention of additional harm, and rehabilitation. Here are a few other options.
...

Drivers License Suspension.
,,,
According to Transportation Article §16-206(5)(i), the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) "may suspend the license of a person who is convicted of a moving violation that contributed to an accident resulting in the death of another person" for up to 6 months.
...

Fix the Roads
...

Do Some Soul Searching
...

http://edgewater.patch.com/groups/use-the-full-lane-/p/if-states-attorney-can-not-get-justice-for-patricia-cunningham-who-can
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1,287 people died in 2012 crashes in D.C., Va. and Md.

Biking in MarylandBY ASHLEY HALSEY, Washington Post

...
Here are your closer-to-home numbers:

A total of 1,287 people died in crashes in Maryland, Virginia and the District last year, an increase of 11 over 2011. Of that number, 364 weren’t wearing seat belts, 476 were speeding and 375 of the deaths involved a drunk driver.

Motorcyclists accounted for 166 deaths, pedestrians for 166, and bike riders for 16.

The District had 15 fatalities, down from 27 in 2011. Virginia had 777, up for 764 the previous year. Maryland had 505 deaths, 20 more than in 2011.
...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dr-gridlock/wp/2013/11/15/1287-people-died-in-2012-crashes-in-d-c-va-and-md/
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Alert: The State's new bike/ped master plan missing something important... appropriate levels of funding!

Biking in Maryland The Context: The number of cyclists are a strong indication of quality of life issues but it's not just about cyclists it is about people just out walking, kids outside playing, joggers, runners, moms with strollers, retires walking hand in hand... basically getting everyone outside and hopefully getting to know their neighbors. My challenge in this post is I dare anyone to make a good case why Maryland should continue to be below average (which would be a state ranking of 25) on these issues. If being below average is not acceptable then let's make more of an effort to be at least average.

Overview: While Maryland has done many wonderful things since the first 20 Year Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan but a few things have been overlooked:

Pedestrian fatality rate BEFORE the first Master Plan:
image*

Pedestrian fatality rate AFTER the first Master Plan:
image*

We need to be making progress!



And then there is this:

While efforts to improve conditions for bicycling in the region have been robust in the time since the 1999 analysis, the 2004 [the most recent data] value distribution is statistically identical.
http://www.baltometro.org/reports/BikePedLOS.pdf




This is part of that problem:
Jim Titus expressed concerns regarding the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission –Prince George’s County’s designation of MD Route 564 as a bikeway was not recognized by the State Highway Administration. Michael [Jackson Director of Bicycle and Pedestrian Access] stated that because MD Route 564 is a State highway SHA was not bound to accept M-NCPPC-PG’s designation but recommended that Jim contact SHA staff about his concerns.
From 4/11 Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (MBPAC) minutes


For a little background: SHA intermittently removed a bikeable shoulder for bypass lanes around left turns lanes on a designated bike route when for "the same money" they could have centered the striping on the roadway and have comfortable cycling conditions on both sides of the road.
Eliminating a bikeable shoulders should not be acceptable practice by SHA, this needs to be fixed!
We need to be making progress!


And finally:
The levels of walk and bike commuting have increased substantially over the last decade, though the mode shares are still relatively small. Statewide, approximately 2.5% of Maryland commuters walk to work and 0.4% bike to work, ranking Maryland 29th and 37th in the United States based on the share of workers walking and bicycling to work.
MARYLAND TWENTY-YEAR BICYCLE & PEDESTRIAN MASTER PLAN - DRAFT

After 10 years cycling has gotten "up to" a national ranking of 37th?
We need to do better than this!


Appropriate balance of funding:
First let's look at the law:
§ 2-602.(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;


While accommodating single occupancy vehicles is desired, really expensive and requires a lot of planning I must point out nobody really wants this:
imageChina after deciding to accomidate cars over cyclists.

Avoiding this and other undesirable outcomes of over accommodating single occupancy motor vehicles is why we have a Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan in the first place. I thank you for the work done so far. But I really have to ask after 10+ years of having a goal of improving conditions for bicycling and walking don't you think we should be doing better then what I have pointed out?

While I could and should make a strong case how Maryland's bike/ped funding should be increased by at least 4 fold but instead I will make this incredibly reasonable request...

The ask:

Every year our pedestrian fatality rate is below average or our bicycle modal share is below average there shall be a 10% increase in bicycle and pedestrian funding over the previous year's funding level. And any money left over stays available. (It may take a couple of years for the localities to be aware of the funds and make the appropriate plans.)

I could go into a lot of detail of what I expect from this action but the main point is there are a lot of low cost solutions** that are NOT done as a matter of routine by SHA so if the low cost solutions are not being done then we need more money for higher cost solutions, it's their choice. But progress must be made!

If this proposal is unacceptable maybe our funding should be based on the percentage of bike and pedestrian traffic fatalities, since so few bike and walk that shouldn't be so bad right? So how does only 22% of the budget sound? (The National average is 15.8%)*** As I said, a 10% increase over the previous year is a very reasonable request .

Take action:


Remember to include your address and phone number when writing. Also using your own words has more of an impact than just quoting this article but remember to be polite and say something positive. But just copying and pasting this article is better than not doing anything at all.

Write:
ksylvester@mdot.maryland.gov
governor@gov.state.md.us (Does he know that Maryland became the 4th highest in pedestrian fatalities under his administration and has stayed in the top ten worst?)

And write your representative as they have been looking at the attainment reports for years are they really happy with the progress the state has made? It might be interesting to ask about any designated Bicycle and Pedestrian Priority areas in their district, as that is supposed to be a way to get money into their district to address bike/ped issues.
Find you State representative.
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