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Wednesday, April 23 2014 @ 07:02 AM UTC


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Montgomery police blame victims for pedestrian deaths

Biking in Marylandby Ben Ross, Greater Greater Washington

After three pedestrians died in three weeks in Montgomery County—one walking on the sidewalk, and the other two in crosswalks where they had the legal right of way—county police could only blame the victims.

Telling those on foot to dress like hunters in the woods will not make streets more walkable. Nor will it prevent the deaths of people who are walking on the sidewalk or standing in a median strip. Lives will be saved when drivers obey the law by stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks. Montgomery County police must change their attitudes and issue tickets to those who fail to yield.
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Maryland's Driver Education Is Still a Joke for Bicycling

Biking in MarylandI had an interesting conversation with the League of Illinois Bicyclists about motorist education. They shared their initiatives:

In Illinois and elsewhere, we have a considerable educational gap – for both cyclists and motorists – on how to properly share the road.  Motorists make mistakes or act aggressively towards cyclists. Bicyclists make other mistakes or blatantly ignore laws. The result: too many injuries and deaths, too many people afraid to bike, and anger and resentment on both sides. Public resentment is a big concern and even a potential risk to cyclists’ road rights, since we are in the minority. For example, we have heard many calls for bicyclist licensing, which may help with education, but with negative consequences.

While lessons for swimming – and other skills arguably less practical than bicycling – are routine in a child’s education, most kids and young motorists are not adequately learning about car-bike interactions.  Most teachers, Driver’s Ed instructors, and parents generally lack the knowledge themselves, beyond basic advice like “wear a helmet” and “watch out for cyclists.” Even where expert instruction is available, programs like in-depth training for young cyclists must compete with an overcrowded school curriculum.

Despite being armed with only a relatively superficial level of knowledge, most motorists and current/would-be cyclists do not perceive a need for more training.  Many motorists do not realize    mistakes they make around bikes, even on the overcautious side.   Taking bike safety classes – or even picking up bike safety materials – is not done by enough cyclists.

And their draft questions for the motorist module of our online bike safety quiz challenge, and other safety purposes.

One sample:

Now contrast that with Maryland's driver test question:

Which do you think will do the most to help the safety of cyclists?

On the flip side I shared what we have done with the Drivers' Manual. And they loved it. So here's hoping we can get their bike questions for our drivers' test and they can get our bike section in their driver's manual.
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Driver in fatal accident receives fine [$140???]

Biking in MarylandBy Joe Aiello, Capital Gazette

The driver in an accident that killed a 24-year-old Bowie woman in 2011, pleaded guilty to negligent driving and received a probation before judgement and a $140 fine.

At the time of the accident there were no negligent homicide laws that Goad could have been charged with so the most serious charges filed against her were negligent driving.

John Erzen, communications director for the State’s Attorney’s Office said, “Our charging decisions are based on the evidence we have.”
[B' Spokes:
§ 2-210. Manslaughter by vehicle or vessel -- Criminal negligence

(a) "Vehicle" defined. -- In this section, "vehicle" includes a motor vehicle, streetcar, locomotive, engine, and train.
(b) Prohibited. -- A person may not cause the death of another as the result of the person's driving, operating, or controlling a vehicle or vessel in a criminally negligent manner.
(c) Criminal negligence. -- For purposes of this section, a person acts in a criminally negligent manner with respect to a result or a circumstance when:
. (1) the person should be aware, but fails to perceive, that the person's conduct creates a substantial and unjustifiable risk that such a result will occur; and
. (2) the failure to perceive constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that would be exercised by a reasonable person.
(d) Exception. -- It is not a violation of this section for a person to cause the death of another as the result of the person's driving, operating, or controlling a vehicle or vessel in a negligent manner.
(e) Violation. -- A violation of this section is criminally negligent manslaughter by vehicle or vessel.
(f) Penalty. -- A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or a fine not exceeding $ 5,000 or both.

Let's see if I get this right, failing to drive in your lane + driving on the shoulder is NOT a conduct that creates a substantial and unjustifiable risk to cyclists??? And that is NOT a gross deviation from the standard of care that would be exercised by a reasonable person???

And the State legislature want's to require us to wear a helmet while drivers get a $140 fine for killing a cyclist with a helmet??? This is not right!]
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Maryland in the national news

Biking in Maryland...
Incomplete Intersections – Injuries and fatalities at intersections are often a result of intersection design that ignores the needs of all users. This is especially true for those who must walk along and across wide, fast-moving arterial roads without walking-friendly facilities, such as frequent crosswalks and pedestrian medians. Recent pedestrian injuries at a large intersection in Rockville, Maryland prompted online conversations about the most dangerous intersections in the country. Among the intersections nominated as the nation’s worst by readers of Streetsblog include those in Florida, Nebraska, and Missouri, which have over 30 (!) lanes of traffic, confusing signage, and few to no safe facilities for those on foot. Just reaching the opposite side of these intersections can be confusing and lengthy journeys and often do not provide easy access to bordering shops, schools, or employment centers. People on foot, frustrated by these difficult intersections, then try to take the most direct route (rather than walking over a mile in some cases to the closest crosswalk), often resulting in dangerous collisions.
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Sierra Club's Bicycle Statement

Biking in Maryland[B' Spokes: We live in a society where we tell drivers one thing and something opposite to pedestrians and cyclists and this needs to be corrected. Too many times I've heard "Cyclists/pedestrians have to yield to cars." (A practical (but wrong) interpretation of "Don''t be dead right.") I will strongly assert that it is the parents (auto drivers) that teach their kids how to "safely" bike or walk which includes perpetuating the myth that wrong way riding is safer and other fallacies. This needs to be correct, so with that I'll highlight how the Sierra Club put it:]
  1. Make a complete network
  2. Be context-appropriate
  3. Provide comfort
  4. Safety
  5. Engage the public
  6. Education

6. Education

All road users, whether they are cyclists, pedestrians or drivers, should understand their rights and responsibilities and the rights and responsibilities of others. In addition, the general public must see walking and biking as legitimate forms of transportation. This can be accomplished with an educational campaign focused on the rights of all road users, on safe travel habits and on the benefits of biking and walking.

  • Teach bicycle and pedestrian safety in the driver's education curriculum, ensuring that young people know how to safely interact with all road users as drivers and can be more responsible bicyclists and pedestrians.
  • Candidates for a driver's license should be required to answer and pass questions about bicycle and pedestrian safety.
  • Incorporate bicycle and pedestrian safety into Montgomery County Public Schools' curriculum as well, potentially in physical education classes or in the health classes currently taught in 5th, 8th and 10th grades.
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Dangers of older drivers

Biking in MarylandOur view: Maryland's aging driving population poses a serious safety risk that lawmakers in Annapolis appear reluctant to recognize
Via the Baltimore Sun

If there is some good to arise from the tragic death of Nathan Krasnopoler — the 20-year-old Johns Hopkins University student killed while riding his bicycle on University Parkway by an 83-year-old driver who didn't notice him in the bike lane — it may be to call greater attention to the dangers of Maryland's aging driver population.

Today, Mr. Krasnopoler's parents were in Annapolis to brief the House Environmental Matters Committee on the latest data provided by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration documenting the threat. The number of Maryland drivers over age 70 is expected to double in just seven years and triple in 15 as baby boomers reach their geriatric years.

Turning 70 doesn't necessarily make a person a bad driver, but as a group, older drivers are more prone to cause car crashes — even as they drive less. Declining skills and vision, slower reaction time and potentially reduced mental acuity are all factors.

One of the MVA statistics that leaps out is that while younger drivers are involved in more crashes — peaking at age 25-34 — the proportion of drivers who are at fault in crashes turns sharply upward after age 55. Indeed, licensed drivers age 80 or over are as likely as teens to be at fault in accidents.

Showing up at the MVA to renew a driver's license every two years may sound like a hassle, but it can also be a lifesaver. Just ask Susan Cohen and Mitchell Krasnopoler, who lost their son two years ago this month. Some "accidents" are potentially avoidable.,0,2705502.story
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October 2012 Subcommittee Reports Highlights

Biking in Maryland[B' Spokes: In keeping with my endeavors to add more transparency to MBPAC here are the subcommittee reports for the October 2012 MBPAC meeting (link at the end for the whole thing.) The Open Meeting Act requires meeting minutes as well as public notice of when and where these meetings take place. I guess these reports could satisfy the minutes requirement and we (the public) are still waiting to have some advance notice of these meetings but till then here is a glance of what they are up to.

I'll note that while these reports were originally emailed so the text could be scanned and searchable, they were converted to a picture PDF so I had to painstakingly retype what you see bellow. I don't have anything positive to say about this processes of obfuscating information other then something is better then nothing I guess.]

Over the last three months, Prince Georges has seen many news articles complaining about the lack of "crosswalks" on state highways. Elected officials from Edmonston and Seat Pleasant have both stated that there are few crosswalks on the state highways going through their towns and called on SHA to do something. In reality, these towns have unmarked crosswalks, and police forces that could enforce the law; but rather then do what is within their power, they ask SHA to paint white lines. Perhaps some crosswalk education is needed. Are crosswalk violations the "broken windows" of traffic enforcement?
[B' Spokes: Nice comment, too bad I get the impression that it dead ends there. It would be nice if someone somewhere would do something about Maryland's high pedestrian fatality rate.]

Law Enforcement Training
* A meeting regarding the draft Law Enforcement Bicycle Safety Training Video will take place October 11, just before the October MBPAC meeting the following day. I'll be able to provide an update there.
[B' Spokes: Good news that this is still being worked on. Though I can't help but think wouldn't it be nice if a notice went out saying the public is invited to attend the Educational and Awareness subcommittee meeting discussing the topic of the draft Law Enforcement Bicycle Safety Training Video. Instead all we get is the topic was discussed.]

5. Letter to MDOT Secretary regarding MDOT/MBPAC legislative coordinating procedures

It is recommended that a motion to reconsider be introduced by an appropriate MBPAC member based on comments from Martin Harris and Michael Jackson. The main reason expressed by Martian and Michael against the motion is related to how MDOT operates legislatively. Currently MDOT is open to discussing legislative issues with MBPAC prior to the legislative session. At any time during the legislative session communication between MDOT and MBPAC may be positively or negatively impact proposed legislation due to any number of reasons some of which may not be under Michael's control. For example recently MDOT's position on the 3 foot bill may have surprised the bicycle community even though MBPAC indicated positive support to MDOT for this proposed law and had expected MDOT to concur. Under the proposed resolution MBPAC would likely get the same response from MDOT's Secretary on a given piece of legislation but the process for obtaining the Secretary's response would involve many more staff persons then Michael and Martin thus not being the best use of staff time and resources.
[B' Spokes: Does anyone remember MDOT's opposing our bicycle has the right-of-way in a bike lane bill because of the problem of flying unicorns? My bad, that should be because of the problem of striping a bike lane through an uncontrolled intersection but both are mythical so it really makes no difference. My point is better communication/debate is needed especially when the debate comes down to old assumptions that started in the 60's vs new and improved ways of looking at complete streets and how to accommodate people, not just cars, that have proven studies that show that they work. Or the whole point of the committee is to challenge car centric ideas.]

7 Attorney General Letter Regarding Passing in Double Yellow Centerline Item was deferred to another date due to lack of time.
[B' Spokes: I wounder what that was about? Sounds interesting as I support allowing motorist to pass cyclists over the double yellow (when safe to do so) instead of MDOT saying (in effect) you can legally pass a cyclist as close as you want if there is a double yellow.]

By coincidence Michael received a phone call from Delegate Miller the morning following the subcommittee meeting on another matter. During the conversation he mentioned discussion of her planned sidewalk legislation and she was surprised to hear of opposition. Michael suggested she might want to hear directly from the persons voicing their opposition. Delegate Miller in the future regarding this topic. Michael suggested a subsequent L&GA subcommittee meeting be set up for this purpose.
[B' Spokes: That's good the pros and cons of sidewalk riding are being discussed. Though I would be interested in the points that were raised.]
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Total and Pedalcyclist Traffic Fatalities and Fatality Rates by State, 2010

Biking in MarylandJust to show biking in Maryland is safer then average.

StateTotal Traffic FatalitiesResident PopulationPedalcyclist FatalitiesPercent of TotalPedalcyclist Fatalities per Million Population
Puerto Rico3403,722154.44.03
New Mexico3462,06682.33.87
District of Columbia2460428.33.31
South Carolina8104,636141.73.02
South Dakota14081621.42.45
North Carolina1,3199,562231.72.41
U.S. Total/Average32,885309,3506181.92
Rhode Island661,053231.9
New York1,20019,3923631.86
West Virginia3151,854311.62
North Dakota105674111.48
New Jersey5568,802122.21.36
New Hampshire1281,317000
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Quick, someone give those guys a ticket

Biking in Marylandimage


OK to be fair there's lots of pictures of these guys bicycling with helmets but it should not be outrageous to go without one, after all if the president of the US has done it, it can't be all bad.

But may Ray LaHood has found a way to skirt the rule a bit.


What are we going to do if someone goes around with the helmet unfastened?

Anyway always wear your helmet you never know when it might come in handy.

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NEW Kona Bikes Donation

Biking in MarylandRace Pace mechanic buys 10 new bicycles and donates them to Bikes For the World.

Part time mechanic at Race Pace buys 10 new Kona bikes and donates them to BfW. Seen here with Keith Oberg of BfW and Kevin Dolan Race Pace Bicycles

Norm even helped load them up for us!

The first time Norm donated bikes they went to Uganda. Here is one with Muwonge Jalia. Most of the farmers in the Kayunga District all borrow Jalia's bicycle to travel to the markets, health centers, and for personal business. They loved the bikes so much, they left the cardboard packing on them to help protect them.

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Maryland should adopt the Idaho stop law.

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The state should support what kind of bicycle facilities?

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