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Saturday, May 28 2016 @ 11:44 AM UTC


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March MBPAC Highlights

Biking in MarylandC. Legislative and Government Affairs
HB 241 allows crossing double yellow line when safe to pass bicyclists by 3 feet (unfavorable report in House Environmental Matters Committee) and SB 520, which legalizes bicycle travel on portions of roadway segments posted at 55 mph or greater when bicycle shoulder use is permitted (passed the House of Delegates, awaiting a Senate vote). Carol noted that although HB 241 did not pass out of the Environmental Affairs Committee MDOT changed its position from unfavorable in 2013 to “neutral” in 2014 and the trucking industry changed its position from unfavorable in 2013 to favorable in 2014.

Shared Use Paths in Utility Corridors - John gave an update on efforts to persuade the Potomac Electric Power Company (PEPCO) to allow shared use paths to be built along their power line rights-of-way. He is working with a group of stakeholders including Delegate Aruna Miller and would like to see two pilot projects along utility corridors connecting Cabin John to Seneca state park in Montgomery County and along another power line right-of-way in Prince George’s County. John said so far PEPCO shows no signs of agreeing to these proposals. Dick asked if these utility corridors were owned in fee simple by PEPCO. John said yes. Dick suggested seeking a 99 year lease from utility companies for a dollar. He also joked that, “the job of electric utilities is to move kilowatts not people.”

ADA Accessibility Interpretation
He brought up a vexing issue of a McDonald’s restaurant application for renovation where the restaurant owner has been advised by their attorneys to rip up an existing sidewalk that serves both restaurant and thru pedestrian traffic because the sidewalk is not ADA compliant. A new sidewalk ... but disrupt the existing thru pedestrian traffic flow

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A Sidewalk Snow Removal Plan

Biking in Maryland[B' Spokes: It would be nice if Baltimore did something like this, especially on 4 lane roads where they plow all the snow from the street onto the sidewalk.]
Via Hans Riemer

Responding to large storm events is a challenge for our county government and our residents. We have a very robust snow plow operation that clears the roads very efficiently, and our superb highway team is always working to improve its performance. However, we do not have a sufficient plan or policies in place to meet the challenge of removing snow from sidewalks and pedestrian crossings.

I have seen or heard reports of pedestrians walking in the street on major roads, mothers pushing strollers over sidewalks that have not been cleared, seniors and individuals with mobility challenges unable to enter a street crossing because it is blocked by snow, and even motorized wheelchairs moving in traffic lanes on state highways (in this case, University Blvd) because sidewalks are impassable.

We know that the county considers its snow removal work complete long before these problems have been resolved.

I am requesting Council staff to draft legislation requiring Montgomery County DOT to create a Sidewalk Snow Removal Plan.

The plan would require elements including:
  1. A digital map of the county showing who is responsible for clearing snow on all sidewalks in the county
  2. A "major storm event" communications plan addressing a range of preparation efforts that residents need to understand, and including sidewalk snow removal, to be implemented in advance of major storm events
  3. A targeted public education campaign for property owners to make them aware where they are responsible for clearing sidewalks from snow
  4. Establishing pedestrian priority routes where additional education, enforcement and county services will be applied
  5. A public education campaign to educate residents about how to request enforcement of sidewalk clearing rules, and enhanced process for residents to request enforcement by 311
  6. Policies for keeping 311 in operation late during snow events
  7. Increased enforcement for property owners who fail to clear their sidewalks
  8. Plan for county-provided snow removal at bus-stops and around Metro stations
  9. Plan for county-provided snow removal near schools
  10. Plan for county-provided snow removal along state highways
  11. Plan for county-provided snow removal along highest priority pedestrian routes
  12. Plan for snow removal in urban districts, funded by urban districts
  13. Pedestrian access requirements provided to snow removal contractors and performance assessment based on fulfilling the plan
  14. Plan for clearing hiker biker trails on a prioritized basis
  15. Plan for trash removal if snow cancels collection
I recognize that we have limited resources and storm events are already a massive expense for the county -- we spend over $1 million per day during snow events, according to the county executive.
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Lifting the Veil on Bicycle & Pedestrian Spending

Biking in Marylandimage

[B' Spokes:
D- DESCRIPTION CLARITY This is a big bugaboo for a sampling see My Comments for the 2014 – 2017 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) How are we are supposed to comment on projects that have virtually no description? And if there is such a general effort and general acceptance of detailed-less hohum projects then of course we are going to have a hard time making progress because the reality is we need more stress on the details then on the money. Money is really only needed to make up for projects that forgot about the bike/ped detail.]
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Worst Drivers By State

Biking in MarylandIn this report by Car Insurance Comparison Maryland did very good overall, that is till you look at the Careless Driving table... and oh look Maryland comes in the top ten (worst) states. :(

StatePedestrians KilledPedacyclists KilledPopulation (Thousands)"Pedestrian Fatality Rate per 100,000 Population""Pedacyclist Fatality Rate per 100,000 Population"Total (Pedestrians + Pedacyclist)Rank
South Carolina1131546792.410.322.7350
New Mexico41420821.970.192.1647
North Carolina1602596561.660.261.9244
New Jersey1421788211.610.191.838
New York28757194651.470.291.7637
(This rest is continued in the read more.)
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Cumberland awarded $75,000 bikeways grant

Biking in MarylandBy Greg Larry, Cumberland Times-News

CUMBERLAND — A new $75,000 grant, with plans to add bicycle lanes to Frederick and Bedford streets, has been awarded to the city from the Maryland Bikeways Program.

“We have now become a place where a lot of bikers come,” said John DiFonzo, city engineer.

DiFonzo said that cyclists come mainly for the C&amp;O Canal Towpath and Great Allegheny Passage.

“But they are also riding our streets,” said DiFonzo.

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[B' Spokes: Trails are great but they don't remove he need to go the same places as cars.]
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Maryland Cyclists Against DOT Saying Stupid Shit

Biking in MarylandI started a new Facebook group to see how much support I could gather to change what we have into something better.

What we have in Maryland:

What we would like to see instead:

Maryland Cyclists Against DOT Saying Stupid Shit

After all you don't want to see this here: Delaware Cyclist Ticketed for Riding His Bike
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Petition: Ensure that the new Amtrak Susquehanna River Bridge will accommodate cyclists and walkers.

Biking in MarylandPetition by East Coast Greenway Alliance

The East Coast Greenway (ECG) is a 2,900-mile National Millennium Trail connecting 15 states and more than two dozen major cities throughout the Eastern seaboard. The ECG is now 29% complete as trail, with 71% of the route on carefully-selected roadways. There are many challenges to building trail on the route, but one rises high above the rest: crossing the Susquehanna River. Did you know that in the state of Maryland there is no safe way to cross the Susquehanna on foot or by bike? The closest safe crossing is in Pennsylvania, over 23 miles upstream from Havre de Grace. With your help, we can change that.

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Unlock Federal Funds in Your Community in 2014: Apply for a Navigating MAP-21 Workshop

Biking in Maryland[B' Spokes: Maryland has accumulated $40 million in unspent federal money that could be spent on bike ped projects. Local key players really need to attend this workshop and get O'Malley to spend this money.]

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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.

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 <>
David Buck <>
John Kuo <>
Michael E. Jackson <>

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.

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