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Thursday, October 23 2014 @ 03:43 AM UTC


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The most common damage to cars is from shopping carts and car doors in parking lots

Biking in MarylandB' Spokes: I made up that headline to point out the absurdity of this quote:

"Michael Jackson, director of bicycle and pedestrian access for the Maryland Department of Transportation, said the most common cycling injuries statewide result from people falling off their bikes. Most of those injured are men above age 40, Jackson said."

If there is some such statewide report I have not seen it and that in itself is worrisome. I do however recall some study done somewhere of emergency room visits that had a similar conclusion but I question the methodology of the survey. For example I wonder if the following qualify for just "falling off a bike":

* Wheel trapped in hazardous storm grate
* Back tire slid out from a narrow approach to a driveway with a bike unfriendly lip
* Trying to turn on a trail that does not have the proper turning radius
* Trying to ride on a shoulder and suddenly the width disappears (very common on right turns)
* Getting the wheel trapped by exposed railroad tracks
* Poles and bollards placed in the middle of the trail.
* Cracks in the pavement along the seam between two panels of asphalt
* Riding as far right as possible (That's what the law says right? - While too many think that's what the law says, it is in fact not what the law says.)

Well that paints a completely different picture and gets to the point I would like to make:

Stop blaming the victim!

Sure cyclists should be trained to avoid these things but does this list even exist in training materials for cyclists? That to me is a big issue, we pretend that these things do not exist or that cyclist can "easily" avoid them. But the fact is these things are treated as some sort of oral tradition that cannot be written down or worst as some sort of hazing ritual. But worst of all for the same money these things could and should be completely eliminated but instead the state implies that it is the cyclists fault.

Now getting to my headline, imagine a deadly car crash, and not only deadly the crash involves some issue that you as a driver care deeply about, drunk driving, speeding or some such thing. And a spokesperson for the state in response to this tragedy "The most common damage to cars is from shopping carts and car doors in parking lots."

That's a little outrageous in my book. Initially I was not going to say anything as the article goes into other things so this could just be a reporter issue picking the wrong quote to highlight but I saw another blog pull this quote out so I thought I would address it here.

The New York Times had this bit of info:

"She and her colleagues reviewed hospital and police records for 2,504 bicyclists who had been treated at San Francisco General Hospital. She expected that most of these serious injuries would involve cars; to her surprise, nearly half did not. She suspects that many cyclists with severe injuries were swerving to avoid a pedestrian or got their bike wheels caught in light-rail tracks, for example. Cyclists wounded in crashes that did not involve a car were more than four times as likely to be hurt so badly that they were admitted to the hospital. Yet these injuries often did not result in police reports — a frequent source of injury data — and appeared only in the hospital trauma registry."
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Roll-up bike carriage tested on Capitol Limited

Biking in MarylandBy Malcolm Kenton, National Association of Railroad Passengers

On today’s eastbound Capitol Limited (yesterday evening’s Chicago departure), Amtrak conducted its first over-the-road test of vertically-mounted bicycle restraints installed in the lower-level baggage area of one Superliner coach. This represented the first time unboxed bikes were carried on a Superliner-equipped train since they were carried on the Cardinalbefore the train was re-equipped with single-level cars in 2002.

A selected group of cyclists, myself included, boarded with their bikes at Pittsburgh, Connellsville, Harpers Ferry and Rockville. Some detrained at Harpers Ferry, the rest at Washington. At each station, the side door to the previously unused baggage area was opened, cyclists hoisted themselves and their bikes onto the train, and secured their bikes on the racks by first hooking the front wheel to a padded metal hook, then sliding the rear wheel into a U-shaped metal restraining device that springs up from the floor to prevent the bike from shifting side-to-side as the train moves. Below are photos from my experience.

The test went off without a hitch.

Amtrak is interested in allowing passenger to carry unboxed bikes on long-distance routes, and figures the Capitol Limited is a logical one to start with as its route parallels the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal towpath, two internationally popular bike trails (the former was once a railroad right-of-way that roughly paralleled the tracks the Capitol Limited uses). One concern is that the six bike racks in the Superliner baggage area would not be enough to handle demand in the summer, when thousands of cyclists use the trails between Pittsburgh and Washington.
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Biking in MarylandFrom MDOT!!!

Respect Banner - We're on this road together.

We’re on this road together, expect and respect
is the theme of SHA’s new bicycle safety education effort geared to both drivers and bicyclists.  In an expansion of past “Share the Road” efforts, the new campaign issues a plea to both drivers and bicyclists to follow the rules and laws of the road and anticipate the needs of each other.  Bicycle safety is a two-way street – the safety of bicyclists not only depends upon the bicyclist, but the drivers with whom bicyclists share the road. Bicycles are less visible, quieter, and don’t have a protective barrier around them.
We're on this road expect and respect together.As the popularity of bicycling grows as a healthy and environmentally friendly way to commute, as well as exercise, SHA is committed to providing “Complete Streets” in Maryland.  With each roadway resurfacing project, SHA evaluates the road for bicycle markings and amenities. 
Most drivers tend to look for other drivers, and may unintentionally overlook our friends on two-wheels. Even the slightest mistake on the part of the driver can result in tragic consequences for the bicyclist. 
Bicyclists fare best when they act like and are treated as drivers of vehicles.  By Maryland law, bicycles are vehicles, and bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles.  Staying visible to drivers is key, so bicyclists need to ride in a predictable manner and take important steps to wear the proper gear and equip bicycles appropriately.
Drive Smart!Tips for drivers:     
  • Expect bicyclists on the road.
  • Always keep a safe following distance.
  • In certain conditions, bicycles may position in the center of the lane.
  • Allow at least 3 feet when passing.
  • When turning, yield the right-of-way to bicycles as you would other vehicles.
  • Merge into bike lanes before turning right.
  • Look for bicyclists before opening a car door.
  • Be vigilant when pulling out of driveways or side streets.
  • Watch for children.
  • Stay alert and keep your eyes on the road.  It’s illegal to text and use hand held devices while driving.
  • Use turn signals and obey the speed limit.
Tips for bicyclists:
  • Bike Smart!Bikes are vehicles; obey the rules of the road.  Stop at all red lights and stop signs.
  • Ride defensively – expect the unexpected.
  • Ride with traffic, never against it.
  • Use hand signals when turning or stopping.
  • Stop for pedestrians.
  • Pass on the left when overtaking a vehicle.
  • Use marked bike lanes when present.
  • Never ride more than two abreast.
  • Maryland law restricts bicycles on sidewalks, except where allowed by local ordinance.
  • Make yourself visible day and night with lights, reflectors and gear.
  • Wear a helmet correctly – not tilting back. 
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8-9-13 MBPAC Meeting Minutes Comments

Biking in Maryland

Jim Swift noticed that there were a couple of outdated laws in the current version of the fine or penalty deposit schedule for violations of vehicle laws as published by the District Court of Maryland. The outdated laws were the requirement that bicyclists must use shoulders and have bells on their bicycles. Peace officers rely on this fine schedule when writing traffic citations. He proposed that MBPAC send a letter to the District Court requesting that the fine schedule be revised to show the current laws.

[B' Spokes: I thought that was interesting.]

(The above will be posted soon on this page:

And this from the Government and Legislative Affairs Subcommittee:

[B' Spokes: I find it rather ironic that WMATA is not a Maryland state agency while MTA is a state agency (which MBPAC can advise) and has no such pointed understanding of bicycle and pedestrian issues that is given to Baltimore Metro bus drivers. Not that there is anything wrong with pointing out something nice happening within the state but still I for one would like to see more support of at least getting Baltimore Metro area bus drivers up to the same level of bicycle friendliness I see in DC and Montgomery County.]
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Walk to School Day and Park(ing) Day as missed opportunities for community organizing

Biking in Maryland[B' Spokes: I would summarize this article as "How to get more kids walking to school, coordinate a mess of local and state agencies."]
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Comments on Natasha Pettigrew's memorial ride

Biking in Marylandimage

The first thing that impressed me was Kenniss Henry's smile. (Natasha's mother, pictured) Before the ride she detailed her fight to get jail time for the driver and the fact the hit-and-run driver was represented by one of our elected state representatives. That would get my goat too, I didn't ask details but she said she filed ethics violations.

It was really nice to see so many come out and show support. It was a very friendly group and stuck around after the ride to talk. I got a real sense of a close community. I even made a new friend on the ride.

Kenniss was telling me that she is out walking more and how bad the drivers are. I hear you on that one, we really need to get Maryland out of the top 10 pedestrian fatality ranking..
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Is there support for bike lanes?

Biking in Marylandimage
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Ride raises money, awareness for bicycle safety

Biking in MarylandB' Spokes: Nice coverage of Larry's ride and some of our bike laws. I'll add the way I see it our biggest problem with our 3' foot law is that some are promoting it as "You have to allow 3 feet to pass, unless you can't,", like MDOT. :( Granted the law is poorly written and summaries from MDOT have been even worse but till it is challenged in the court or we get an Attorney Generals opinion no one can say it means that or something else.

The majorly controversial 3rd exception where the "unless you can't comes from:
(iii) The highway on which the vehicle is being driven is not wide enough to lawfully pass the bicycle, EPAMD, or motor scooter at a distance of at least 3 feet.

My notes: It says highway not lane, that is the width of the whole roadway has to be less than 14'. And this does not say unlawful passing of cyclists is now lawful, safe passing is always required, 3 feet or otherwise, if you hit the cyclist while passing it wasn't a safe pass.

The article I am referring to:
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Our Director of Bicycle and Pedestrian Accesses spotted at 2013 NCUTCD Summer Meeting

Biking in Marylandimage

Michael Jackson is the one second from the left.

Via John Brooking
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Maryland deaths from air pollution highest in U.S.

Biking in Marylandby Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Maryland Reporter

Long-term exposure to air pollution leads a higher percentage of the population in Maryland to die prematurely than in any other state, according to a new study on the impact of air quality on health.

In a study released in late August, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that emissions from cars, trucks, industrial smokestacks, trains, boats, and commercial heating systems contribute to the death of 113 people per 100,000 population per year in Maryland—more than any other state.

Acute problem in Baltimore

The problem is particularly acute in Baltimore, which boasts the highest emissions-related mortality rate of large cities in the country, according to the study. Of every 100,000 residents in the city, the study found that 130 were likely to die prematurely each year of causes related to air pollution, more than in New York City, Los Angeles, and the entire Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

Other Maryland cities even worse than Baltimore

Other cities in Maryland fared even worse than Baltimore, according to the study. Frederick, Reisterstown, and Montgomery Village all have rates close to Baltimore’s, while Magnolia—a small town in northeastern Maryland—leads the state with an emissions-related mortality rate of 140 deaths per 100,000 people per year.
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