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Friday, August 01 2014 @ 10:29 PM UTC

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Guilty of negligent driving and maximum fines!

Biking in the Metro AreaSo I attended the trial of Whitney Decesaris, the driver that killed Trish Cunningham on a narrow road in Anne Arundel County. I mainly wanted to make sure the fine was more then the typical $140 for killing a cyclist in Maryland. So I am happy to report Decesaris was found guilty of negligent driving (the main contested point) and got the maximum fine of $500 plus points. In addition there was failure to exercise caution and failure to control speed, both with $500 fines.

Physical evidence showed that Decesaris hit Trish Cunningham 10 inches in from the right side of the vehicle. Testimony indicated that Decesaris did not brake or swerve prior to contact with the cyclist. Only after hitting the cyclist was there was movement to the left but how much over the double yellow is not exactly known.

The defense made a pretty good argument that this was "just an unavoidable accident" that had me silently going "Grrr" in my seat, more then once." but the thing is, if you filter out the spin and the unnecessary stuff you get the exact same argument on why this was negligent driving, The Judge saw that and called her out on those points.

The Washington Post did a good job summarizing this and other things of the trial.

I really wish there was some sort of professional examination after a fatality to better understand what the driver was thinking that failed to pass a reasonable person standard so we could target and correct that kind of thinking, But in lieu of that, I personally believe there has been too much stress on cyclists riding right, with failure to even mention the drivers duty that even when the cyclist is riding as far right as possible the driver still has to change lanes to pass or wait behind the cyclist till there is a safe opportunity to pass with at least 3'. (Ok fine, I need to add more clarifications to that statement but you get the idea.) Speculation: Was Decesaris thinking "Share the Road" so if the cyclist is on the right I can "share" the rest of the lane... whoopsie (to be fair Decesaris was very distraught at the trial and no doubt feels a lot of remorse.)

The Judge even brought up the new "Bikes May Use the Full Lane" signs that have been going up. Now don't get me wrong, these are great and all but something targeting drivers like "Only one vehicle per lane. Bicycles are vehicles. No sharing the lane with bicyclists." - That's not perfect either but maybe it's time to error on the other side of the equation?

So we had a very good turn out as shown here after the trial:
image

So I have to ask, was it the turn out that turned a minimum fine to a maximum fine? Could be but I suspect the truth lies more in the next picture:
image

So first let me introduce the fellow on the left, Wes Adams. He is running for State's Attorney of Anne Arundel County. and the very fact that he showed up for this trial he is getting my vote. The others are cycling advocates of Anne Arundel County. So let me reiterate get politically involved, it pays off! I encourage you to support both:
Wes Adams for State’s Attorney of Anne Arundel County
Bicycle Advocates For Annapolis & Anne Arundel County ("BikeAAA")
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Baltimore County Needs to Reduce Pedestrian Fatilities

Biking in the Metro AreaBy Jeffrey H. Marks

The Baltimore Sun's article "Walk this Way" is right in pointing out that a comprehensive program with a director and budget is needed to reduce the County's high rate of pedestrian fatalities. As the Sun states, other jurisdictions like Ocean City mounted a campaign to reduce pedestrian fatalities - at a cost of $400,000. The result was that the number of pedestrian crashes was cut in half!

It's unacceptable for Exec Kamenetz to simply blame these crashes on the pedestrian by saying that he failed to use the crosswalk. When someone takes the bus or walks, the nearest crosswalk may be 1/2 mile away. Is it reasonable to expect the pedestrian to walk an extra mile to cross the street? And even if the pedestrian uses the crosswalk, the motorist may still fail to yield..

Baltimore County needs a comprehensive plan that involves pedestrian and motorist education, police enforcement, and engineering to improve safety. The County should design Complete streets that accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists, and cars; rather than just cars. The County should follow the City's good example of gradually accommodating non motorized travel; including bike paths, bikelanes , wide curblanes, and even rebuilding a hazardous stretch of Charles Street near the Johns Hopkins Univ campus. If the City, with its lower tax base, can design complete streets, why not the County? I thank the first responders (fire, police, and rescue personnel) for taking the lead in urging the County to make our streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. Please hear our plea, Exec Kamenetz.

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Let's force pedestrians to cross where they are getting killed for safety - Route 1 in College Park

Biking in the Metro AreaBy Jamie Forzato, WTOP


...
University of Maryland President Wallace Loh recommended SHA, which owns and maintains the highway, approve a median barrier along Route 1 from Knox Road to Guilford Road -- a three-block stretch that is home to several popular bars and restaurants that get a high level of foot traffic on weekend nights.

"It is possibly one of the most dangerous stretches of state highway in the entire state," Loh says.

The barrier is a priority and Loh hopes it's among the upcoming improvements.

"We would like that barrier immediately," he says. "As soon as possible. Even [if] it's ugly. Even [if] it's temporary. We've been talking about this for a long time."

College Park City Councilman Patrick Wojahn (District 1) agrees: "There will likely be a barrier placed in the median on Route 1 in that area where there have been these pedestrian deaths."

But he wants to consider the plans carefully.

"We want to make sure that it's not something that will negatively impact the appearance of the Route 1 corridor," Wojahn says. "We don't want it to be something that will make it feel like a divided highway, which may cause traffic to move more quickly and may put more risk to the pedestrians that are crossing at the intersections where they should be crossing."

Still, Loh says, the need to protect pedestrians outweighs the need for a pleasant landscape.

"Quite honestly, there are people in the city who do not want the barrier because they think it's unsightly," he says. "I think safety of the students take precedence. After three deaths in the span of six months, I think safety is taking precedence over aesthetics."

Councilman Fazlul Kabir (District 1) calls Route 1 a "deathtrap" and says residents have told him they are discouraged from visiting the downtown College Park area because the highway is unsafe.

Three young adults were killed along this stretch since the beginning of the year, the most recent was 21-year-old Janelle Oni, who was killed last week by a drunk driver. [B' Spokes: Like a median fence is going to do something about drunk drivers. :/ ]

In January, University of Maryland student Cory Hubbard, 22, was struck and killed while crossing Route 1 near Knox Road. [B' Spokes: Per Google maps this has near invisible crosswalks.]

Three months later at the same intersection, George Washington University student Carlos Pacanins, 23, was struck and killed while near a crosswalk.
...

http://www.wtop.com/?nid=893&sid=3661916
*************************************************************
[B' Spokes: Let me state this as emphatically as I can, without police doing pedestrian crosswalk stings, crossing at intersections is unsafe!

Even when pedestrians have the right-of-way motorists feel their hurry is more important and will scare, intimidate, hit and even kill pedestrians because we all know pedestrians should not be "Dead right." So when crossing at an intersection yield: to traffic behind you, in front of you as well as to your left and right.

I will strongly assert if you take as a given that motorist do not yield to pedestrians in crosswalks then jaywalking is the safest way to cross a road and this project does nothing for better safety at intersections and removes the possibility for safer crossing as well as increase the perception the road is only for cars, cars going fast.

********************************************************************************
Near invisible crosswalks:
"We conclude that, because high-visibility markings are more easily detected by motorists and have been shown to lead to a reduction in pedestrian-vehicle collisions when compared to [the type of markings that Maryland generally does.]"
http://www.baltimorespokes.org/article.php?story=20130922203722411
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Anne Arundel County: Councilman announce Complete Streets program

Biking in the Metro AreaVia Eye On Annapolis

Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman and County Councilman Chris Trumbauer have announced the county is developing a Complete Streets program to improve the safety and accessibility of county roads for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.

“As we continually work to make our roads safer for all users, I’m proud that we are working together to find efficient ways to improve our streets without any fiscal impact,” said County Executive Neuman. “Considering all opportunities for enhancements when approaching road projects is one more example of maximizing efficiency in county government.”

Approved unanimously by the County Council on February 18, the resolution (6-14) Trumbauer sponsored seeks to incorporate a Complete Streets policy into the county’s design manual, which determines standards for repaving roads. The policy was designed in collaboration with the county’s Office of Planning and Zoning, and outlines a method for determining whether upgrades such as bike lanes and sidewalks should be included along roadways already slated for improvement. “We don’t want to replace a road as it is without thinking about it – there might be a good enhancement to be made,” Trumbauer said.

County Executive Neuman recently established a work group comprising transportation committee members and county residents to make suggestions for upgrades to the county’s design manual.

“I’m pleased we have established this Complete Streets task force,” said Councilman Trumbauer. “Working with county staff, these citizens will make recommendations to help make our roadways safer, more accessible and better suited for all modes of transportation.”

To learn more about the county’s Complete Streets program, go to http://www.aacounty.org/PlanZone/Transportation/Resources/finalreport_complete040914.pdf.

http://www.eyeonannapolis.net/2014/06/04/county-executive-councilman-announce-complete-streets-program/
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Tell HoCo on iTunes

Biking in the Metro AreaTell HoCo is an easy way for anyone to report non-emergency issues to Howard County, Maryland while on-the-go, such as potholes, damaged street signs, graffiti, street maintenance, street light issues, damaged trees, park maintenance and more. Using your phone’s GPS, you can help identify the exact location of the problem, and with the use of its camera, you can attach a picture, as well. You’ll be able to track your issue from the time it is reported until it is resolved. Tell HoCo makes it easier than ever to report a problem.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tell-hoco/id874344402

*****************************************************************

[B' Spokes: It would be cool if other localities did this as well.]
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Anne Arundel County unveil inaugural bike ride event - Lifeline 100

Biking in the Metro AreaBy Christopher Johnson, NACO

Anne Arundel County, Md. PoliceDepartment, Department of Recreation and Parks and Bicycle Advocates for Annapolis and Anne Arundel County (BikeAAA) have teamed up to unveil the Anne Arundel County Lifeline 100 Century Ride set for Oct. 19.

bikeride.jpg
Courtesy Anne Arundel County, Md.

Anne Arundel Police Chief Kevin Davis speaks about the Century Ride and how it came to fruition. The event is scheduled for Oct.19.

A growing trend among counties is to get moving and healthier.

“This all began last year when officer Kam [Cooke] and I came up with an idea for a community bike ride,” Cpl. Dominic Scali, Anne Arundel County Police Department said. “This is also an opportunity for our department to show what a bike patrol is and what they do while raising money for county non-profits.”​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

The Anne Arundel County Lifeline 100 Century Ride offers a great experience for cyclists of all levels with 100–, 56– and 15–mile routes with a ‘kiddie and family’ ride option for younger children and their parents. The routes wind throughout the county with views of downtown Annapolis, the Severn River, southern parts of the county, BWI-Thurgood Marshall Airport and more. The ride is a part of the all-day “Make Health Happen Community Health Fair” at Kinder Farm Park.

“We are proud to be hosting the bike ride and health fair,” Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman said. “This first of its kind initiative emphasizes the health and economic benefits of safe bicycling in the county.”

...


http://www.naco.org/newsroom/countynews/Current%20Issue/5-19-2014/Pages/Lifeline-100,-Anne-Arundel-County-unveil-inaugural-bike-ride-event-.aspx
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SHA begins work on first Anne Arundel bike lane project

Biking in the Metro AreaBy ZOË READ, Capital Gazette

The State Highway Administration is spending $1.3 million to add bike lanes to Route 170 in Linthicum, connecting neighborhoods along the busy roadway with the BWI Trail and the North Linthicum light rail station.

The 1.6-mile stretch will be the first SHA project in Anne Arundel County dedicated exclusively to improving bike access on a state road.

Linthicum residents, however, say they have been caught off guard by the project, and worry about traffic and whether anyone will use the lanes.
...

David Buck, an SHA spokesman, said a contractor will remove traffic lanes and shoulders to make room for the bike lanes on Route 170, also known as Camp Meade Road, between Andover Road and Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard. Completion of the project is expected next spring.

“We’re always looking for opportunities (to) slim down the number of road lanes and still have positive effects to other modes of transportation,” Buck said.
...

The lanes will connect to the BWI Trail, which loops around BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, at the intersection of Camp Meade and Andover roads.

“We hope to encourage the people that live in and near the Linthicum-Shipley community to bike to and from the BWI Trail,” Buck said.
...

http://m.capitalgazette.com/maryland_gazette/hot/sha-begins-work-on-first-anne-arundel-bike-lane-project/article_b30395be-7530-5689-b120-a8263ce32723.html
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April Bike Rides Brings Cyclist Of All Ages

Biking in the Metro AreaVia Catonsville Rails to Trails

On April 26, a small caravan of cyclists gathered behind Western School of Technology and Environmental Sciences and followed the proposed route of the Catonsville Short Line Railroad Trail from the rear of Charlestown to the Mews on the Mellor. The first annual Artstravaganza Festival with artists displaying their art work and a gathering of food trucks combined to make a fabulous event.

http://catonsvillerailstotrails.com/april-bike-rides-brings-cyclist-of-all-ages/
(There are pictures of the event in the link.)
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Annapolis Police See Spike in Bicycle Theft

Biking in the Metro AreaVia Fox Baltimore

Annapolis police say they have seen an increase in bicycle theft as the weather grows warmer.

A total of six bike thefts were reported in April, police said Wednesday. Officers advise bicyclists to use a sturdy bicycle lock and choose well-lit, well-frequented places to leave the bicycle.

"Protect it every time and everywhere," police said. "Not only lock your bicycle, but lock it to something at least as secure as the lock itself."

http://foxbaltimore.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/annapolis-police-see-spike-bicycle-theft-27650.shtml
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Baltimore County Disappoints Bike & Trail Advocates

Biking in the Metro Area[B' Spokes: I always wondered why we have a law to create priority funding areas for bike/ped projects but next to zero projects that come in under that funding. Well BMore Bikes has an explanation for Baltimore County and why they don't want free money for bike/ped projects. I recommend reading the whole thing but I'll pull some things that I hope will get your attention.]
...
When asked who was staffing the bicycle program, Ms. Schlabach indicated she was the only staff and only at a fraction of her time.  She also indicated that there was ZERO LOCAL FUNDING FOR BIKE PROJECTS! The Maryland Department of Transportation’s Bikeways Program and the Transportation Alternatives Program could potentially fund the vast majority of the projects suggested, especially if the available state and federal funding was combined to have state funds match the federal funds. However, for almost any project, the county would need to put up at least some local funding as a match and to devote some staff time to project coordination and outreach. Failing to do so leaves available money on the table for projects that have clear public support.

Ms. Silldorff also asked what else could be done for the county to support these projects.  Ms. Schlabach replied for committee members and the public to contact their council representatives to help fund these projects.
[B' Spokes: http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/countycouncilmega.html]
...

Other ways the county is showing resistance to the national bicycle movement:

  • Baltimore County remains the only Maryland jurisdiction NOT to have the East Coast Greenway signed.  Some portions of the route are signed on the Torrey C. Brown/NCR Trail, but not the on-road section between Paper Mill Road and the city line.
  • No Bikes Allowed signs are popping up at Robert E. Lee Park
  • Baltimore County will not support any trail projects along the proposed Red Line improvements, even though it would connect two regional trail systems: Gwynns Falls Trail & Patapsco Valley State Park


http://www.bmorebikes.com/baltimore-county-disappoints-bike-trail-advocates/
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