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Earth to north county: Bikes aren't going away

Biking in the Metro Areafrom Getting There by Michael Dresser

It never fails. If the Getting There Monday column deals with bicycles, it inevitably inspires emails lamenting the fact that bicyclists have the gall to actually use the roads. For some reason, it seems that about 99 percent of these messages emanate from northern Baltimore County, where the peculiar notion has taken hold that the roads are for the use of motor vehicles only.

There's one little flaw with this premise: It's not true. From the time Maryland roads were first paved, they have been open to bicycles, farm equipment, buggies and all manner of slow-moving vehicles (except for interstates and a limited number of other limited-access highways).

The variation I hear most on this theme is that bicyclists should not be permitted to use narrow roads without shoulders. Why? Because motorists have to slow down and are dreadfully inconvenienced.

Here's one that came in today:

"Bicyclists should not be allowed to bike on a road that does not have a bike path or shoulder to the road. In Sparks, we have to be on the alert at all times for deer on the road, and there have been innumerable accidents when the deer and a car can't both fit on the road. The deer don't know any better - the bicyclists do. Bicyclists should be limited to bike paths."

I'm sure there isn't a bicyclist in Maryland who wouldn't love to have a wide, debris-free shoulder or parallel bike path along every country road in the state. But it's not going to happen. The cost would be enormous. In many cases these are low-traffic roads where there is no need to add pavement just so a few impatient drivers never experience a delay. Sure, when a road is rebuilt, it makes sense to add a bicycle lane, but retrofitting the entire highway system is a non-starter.

The same correspondent wrote that bikes should be banned from the roads because they surprise her when she comes around a curve or over a hill. Sorry, but drivers are expected to cope with life's little surprises -- not that the presence of a bicycle in Baltimore County is exactly headline news. If a driver is startled by the sight of a bicyclist riding along the road in a legal manner, chances are the driver is going to fast for road conditions. It's not the bicyclist's fault that the driver is surprised.

Sharing the road with bicyclists is a basic driving skill and a legal duty for motorists. People who can't cope with that reality shouldn't be driving. Because bicycles aren't going away. It's a fantasy. You might as well propose banning rain on weekends.

One of the better things about this country is that it's very difficult to take rights away from people. They have a way of fighting back.

So for all those people who harbor the fantasy that bicycles can be banned from their local roads, here's a suggestion: Contact your local legislator and ask that person to introduce a bill curtailing the rights of bicyclists to use whichever class of roads you are tired of sharing.

If you find a politician foolish enough to put in such a bill, head down to Annapolis and sign up to testify at the hearing. It would be great theater, but you'd better get an early start because the capital city would be choked with bikes. Annapolis would be a sea of Spandex. The committee room would be overflowing with irate bicyclists reminding lawmakers thet they pay taxes too. You might even get a chance to meet Lance Armstrong.

Or those folks in the north county could just get a grip, slow down a little and pass bicyclists with care. It's a beautiful part of Maryland, and folks on two wheels have a right to enjoy it too.
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How Does Federal Funding Impact Infrastructure for Biking and Walking?

Biking in the Metro AreaBy The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

[Highlights]
...
State policy—on suballocation and matching funds—plays a role in spending on bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in metropolitan regions.
For most federal transportation funding programs, states receive the majority of the money and decide how to spend it. The federal government recommends suballocation, allowing metropolitan planning organizations to directly control funding for transportation enhancements and congestion mitigation and air-quality programs, rather than having to apply to the state. However, many states do not do this. [Like Maryland]
...
Maryland, for example, requires local governments to provide a 50 percent match, making it more difficult for them to fund bicycle and pedestrian projects. In California and Florida, the state provides the required match.
...
In Baltimore and Sacramento, spending on infrastructure resulted in a small although statistically significant positive effect on bicycling and walking.
— In Baltimore:
● Bicycling: Trails and improvements to the appearance of the street were modestly related to an increase in bicycling.
● Walking: Improvements to the appearance of the street were related to increased walking, but trail and sidewalk projects were not.
— In Sacramento:
● Bicycling: Bike lane projects were associated with an increase in bicycling, but trail projects were not.
[I'll note that Baltimore is now seeing this with it's bike lanes but the State is still over stressing trails over on-road accommodations.]


● Walking: The limited data did not show any association between trail or sidewalk improvement and walking.
● Sacramento used about $5.5 million more of its federal funding on bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure than did Baltimore:
— Sacramento spent 95 cents per resident and used about 2.4 percent of its federal transportation funding on bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure.
— Baltimore spent 59 cents per resident and used 1 percent of its federal transportation funding on bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure.
● The case studies show that support from local governments and advocacy groups is a key driver of metropolitan planning organization–level support for bicycle and pedestrian investments. State policy also plays a role in encouraging and supporting bicycle and pedestrian spending at the regional level, both directly and through its influence on local governments. Other unique regional factors also have influenced spending.
...
Recommendations
The research team reported the following recommendations for federal policy-makers in the report The Regional Response to Federal Funding for Bicycle and Pedestrian Projects:
● Pass more funding directly to metropolitan planning organizations rather than routing it through the states, thereby reducing the effect of differences in suballocation.
● Design funding programs to achieve specific outcomes and develop outcome-oriented measures of success, or encourage states and regions to create their own programs that tie funding more tightly to local planning goals.
● Provide more tools to state and local governments to help bicycling and walking projects meet eligibility requirements such as demonstrated emissions reductions.

[Yo Maryland, read this: vvvvvv]
● Prohibit states from requiring more than the federally specified local match.
[^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^]

● Introduce more requirements for institutionalized non-motorized transportation planning to improve the ability of metropolitan planning organizations to meet their goals for bicycling and walking.
● Continue to emphasize public involvement in the planning process to ensure opportunities for local advocates to shed light on bicycling and pedestrian needs.
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Some great news from the MTA

Biking in the Metro Area

GUARANTEED RIDE HOME PROGRAM GIVES YOU A

LIFT HOME WHEN YOU NEED IT

 

A personal illness, family emergency or unscheduled overtime can happen without warning while you’re at work. The Greater Baltimore/Washington Region Guaranteed Ride Home Program provides a free ride home for registered commuters who ride in a carpool or vanpool, take transit, bike or walk to work at least twice a week.

 

In the event of an unexpected emergency or unscheduled overtime, Guaranteed Ride Home will arrange for a free taxi ride, a free transit ride, or even a free rental car up to four times each year to get you home.

 

The program is free. The rides home are free. Sign-up is easy. Call 800-745-RIDE (7433) for information or sign-up at www.commuterconnections.org.

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Cyclist hit on Folly Quarter

Biking in the Metro AreaFrom Bicycling Advocates of Howard County

I checked with our Howard County police liaison Captain John McKissick who provided some additional information on this hit and run:

I am happy to report that we (The HCPD) were able to identify the driver in this case. He actually went home after striking the rider, called his Mother, who called us. Our Officers conducted a thorough investigation and arrested the driver. He was issued appropriate citations for the offense. The Rider was provided with all information that he will need reference insurance, registration, etc. Evidence was collected, photos taken and written statements obtained. This was a very unfortunate situation and we are very happy that the Rider is on the mend.

I agree!!! A cell phone and a Road ID <a href="http://www.roadid.com/Common/default.aspx">http://www.roadid.com/Common/default.aspx</a>; ( My Family bought me one this summer) are a must while riding anywhere. Even more important if you ride alone…


Thanks,

Captain John McKissick
Commander
Special Operations Bureau
Howard County Department of Police
************************************************
Hi guys,

I just wanted to let you know that my cyclist friend (who is an avid and experienced cyclist) was involved in a hit and run on Folly Quarter at Carroll Mill Rd on Sept 11th at 3:30pm - in the afternoon in broad daylight.

He was going south towards the traffic circle and was hit from behind by a car that fled the scene. Thank God someone witnessed the accident from pretty far back and that person happened to be a Shock Trauma DR! He was ripped from his shoes and his carbon fiber bike broke in 3 locations! Luckily, he is okay and is recovering at home with some breaks and a concussion. His helmet did crack, though it did save him.

His wife asked me to alert my friends in cycling clubs to be extra careful on folly quarter and to please wear a road id. It was because of the road id on his wrist that they were able to contact her immediately. She was on the ride with him and he had taken a longer route and were about to meet up. Luckily she had her cell phone in her jersey and was able to get the call. So cell phones and road ids!

Be safe out there! I know I will now be ordering that Road ID as if I didn't already have reason enough.
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Bike accident

Biking in the Metro AreaFrom Bicycling Advocates of Howard County

I got run off the road / run over by an SUV yesterday, the driver of which really and truly believed she had the right of way. I was riding on route 216 East in Fulton early this afternoon when the SUV passed me from behind, then turned right into the gas station, passing directly in front of me. She could not have been more than 8 feet in front of me when she made the turn, so I had no choice but to do my best to brake without skidding and turn sharply with her. Well, it was too fast and too sharp for me to be able to stay upright on the inside of her turn, so the bike and I went down, and the bike slid under her rear wheel. Thankfully that stopped the bike (with me attached) from sliding further under her vehicle. The poor rear wheel is taco-ed! Handlebars are a mess, derailleur still to be checked out, etc. My brand new bike helmet is already cracked from hitting the pavement.

There was a vehicle that passed me just before she did, and that car had his brake lights on, so I got out of the aero bars and onto the brakes when I thought he might turn. He didn’t, and I’m glad I was already on the brakes when this next driver cut me off, or it would have been worse.

The most upsetting part of the whole thing was how she was yelling at me for not stopping when she made the turn – she really and truly believed that she had the right of way. Her teenaged daughter was rather foul-mouthed as well, giving me the finger and dropping the c-bomb, and I must admit I lost my temper! Unfortunately, I did not leave them with a very good impression of bicyclists, as surely she will remember my reaction more than she will remember the fact that my bike was under her vehicle after she cut me off.

I did call 911 right away, because it was immediately apparent that she wasn’t going to believe me that she was at fault, and I thought the cops would make more of an impression. HoCo emergency responders are simply awesome! The ambulance and fire truck were there in just a couple minutes – and I apologized to them, because I really only called 911 for a cop to come give this idiot a ticket. They didn’t mind, though, as a couple of them were cyclists so ooh-ed and aah-ed over the bike, others learned about Road ID (they’d never seen one before), and they chatted with the witnesses, one of whom was a retired EMT and also took good care of my road rash. The cops weren’t too far behind, and they were wonderful as well. They did ticket the woman, and indicated a huge amount of support for cyclists, and intolerance for drivers who don’t share the road. I did thank them for all their support at the local triathlons!

So what are today’s lessons? First and foremost, I need to be better at keeping my temper – it’s far more important that bad drivers learn the rules of the road, instead of learn that cyclists are rude. I didn’t help that cause today, I’m sorry to say. Also, I’m really glad I was already up out of the aero bars and on the brakes – it is much safer to ride as if you might have an accident, than to ride as if invincible. It might not make a difference, given the circumstances...but then again, it might. Bike handling skills are also key! Knowing how much the bike can safely turn at different speeds, and knowing how to handle quick stops, are critical. Today was my first ride in aero bars, so while I’m pleased that I made as much of the turn as I did before going down, I wonder if I could have stayed up if I knew the bike better.

Finally, and probably most importantly, the driver got ticketed because the police officers were educated, in large part due to the continued efforts of Bicycling Advocates of Howard County. If she wasn’t ticketed, she would have left the situation still believing she had the right of way. I plan to be at the forum next Monday night, the 18th. It’s really important that our voices be heard, to help improve safety on the roads for cyclists.

My bike – my brand-new tri bike, my birthday present, is at the bike shop. They’re giving her a solid checking-over and writing an estimate for the driver’s insurance company. Yesterday’s ride was her maiden voyage, and I only hope the rest of her life is easier!

Ride safe and ride smart out there,

Dawn
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Hit & Run Old Frederick Rd. at Woodford Dr.

Biking in the Metro AreaAt approximately 1905 hrs, officers responded to the area of Old Frederick Rd between Sand Hill Rd and Woodford Dr for a report of a bicyclist that had been struck by a vehicle. While responding, officers were advised that the suspect vehicle had fled the scene and was being followed by an off-duty firefighter. Investigation revealed both the bicyclist and vehicle were travelling west bound on Old Frederick Rd when the bicyclist was struck by the passenger side mirror of the truck. The cyclist suffered non-life threatening injuries (ribs, shoulder) and was transported P2 to Shock Trauma. The vehicle was located at 13555 Old Frederick Rd and the driver subsequently arrested and charged with DUI and hit and run offenses.

Captain John McKissick
Commander
Special Operations Bureau
Howard County Department of Police
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HoCo Board of Appeal Hearing will affect bikers!

Biking in the Metro Area[B' Spokes: from our mail box:]
Hello,

My name is Sandy Lutes and I am representing The Friends Of Jennings Chapel Road.org. We are a community living on or near Jennings Chapel Road, Woodbine, MD. Jennings Chapel Road and several other nearby roads are designated as scenic roads by Howard County, MD. Many bikers travel on Jennings Chapel Road during the day, evenings and weekends.

A local neighbor on Jennings Chapel Road is trying to obtain a conditional use for his property. This conditional use would allow up to 25 large outdoor (tent) parties on his land during the growing season each year. This means a potential of a large gathering (up to 150 people) each weekend during the spring, summer and fall of each year.

Jennings Chapel Road and several others that link to it offer bikers, joggers and walkers a great trip through a very scenic area. The road is windy, with no shoulders and no passing areas. The road offers both flat riding surfaces as well as hills. If this conditional use is allowed, it will have an adverse impact on the biking community. Bikers will have to contend with many drivers searching for a party venue on an unfamiliar road.
After a party, bikers may have to contend with inebriated drivers coming up behind them or coming at them face on. Either of these scenarios could be potentially disastrous.

There is a Board of Appeals hearing on Tuesday, October 26, 2010 at 6:30 p.m. at the George Howard Building, 3430 Courthouse Drive, Ellicott City, MD 21043. The telephone number is: 410-313-2350.

Please come and testify. It would be helpful to us and YOU to stop this conditional use before the flood gates are open. This is the test case. If it is allowed, then anyone with five acres and a historic house in The Rural Conservation District of Howard County can apply to have 25 outdoor social events each year. Can you imagine what this could mean to bikers?

Thank you for your consideration.
Sandy Lutes
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Carroll Co. cyclist killed after collision with truck

Biking in the Metro AreaCharges pending against driver who police say failed to yield
By Liz F. Kay, The Baltimore Sun

A Carroll County cyclist was killed Tuesday afternoon after he was struck by a tractor-trailer while riding in Union Bridge, according to Maryland State Police – the latest cycling fatality on Baltimore-area roads.

Arthur John Martin Jr., 51, of New Windsor was riding his bike on Shepherds Mill Road when a tractor-trailer driven by Anthony Edward Woodie, 37, made a right turn onto Route 75 in front of him, police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Based on preliminary investigation, troopers say that Woodie failed to yield to Martin when turning, but do not believe alcohol or high speeds were a factor.
...
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Howard County Bicycling Advocacy Forum

Biking in the Metro Area

Howard County Bicycling Advocacy Forum
Monday October 18, 2010
Hosted by: Bicycling Advocates of Howard County (BAHC)


The goal of this Forum is to provide the bicycling community of Howard County an opportunity to meet and share information with other local cyclists, local and state officials/planners, and regional advocacy groups on issues relating to improving bicycling safety and accessibility in our community.
 
Date & Time: Monday, October 18, 2010
·     Check-in/Registration (and free pizza/soft drinks) begins at 5:30pm
·     Presentations/Discussion from 6 – 9pm
·     In order to be prepared with handouts and refreshments we are asking for registration online at:
http://www.evite.com/app/publicUrl/GONPWZHBHUQKSAFZDFLX/HoCoBikeForum

Location/Directions:

·     The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, Building 1, Parsons Auditorium (Address: 11000 Johns Hopkins Road, Laurel, MD 20723)
·     Rt 29 South from Columbia, Exit 15 (Johns Hopkins Road) West, enter APL at second entrance (past Pond through pillared gate), Building 1 Lobby is at end of entrance Road.
·     All parking lots available after 5pm (do not park in gated Visitor Parking)
 
Agenda:
·     Welcome/Introduction – Bill Kelly VP BAHC /Forum Moderator

·     Local Bicycle Advocacy – Jack Guarneri, President BAHC

·     DNR Trails Summit/HC Trail Connectivity – John Wilson, DNR Trails Coordinator

·     Bike/Ped Survey and Future Bike/Ped Master Plan – Marsha McLaughlin Director HC P&Z/Brian Muldoon, HC Transportation/Jennifer Toole, Toole Design Group

·     Road improvements and Plans - Mark DeLuca, Deputy HC Public Works Director

·     SHA Regional Planning for HC – John Concannon, District 7 State Traffic Engineer

·     Bicycling Law/Legislative Agenda – Carol Silldorff, One Less Car

·     Law Enforcement  - Chief of Police William McMahon, HCPD

·     Fairfax Advocates for Better Biking (FABB) Activities -  Fionnuala Quinn, FABB

·     Road Ahead/Wrap-Up – Bill Kelly VP BAHC /Forum Moderator

Join Us:
The Bicycling Advocates of Howard County was founded in 2008 as an advocacy coalition by the APL Cycling Club, the Glenelg Gang (of Baltimore Bicycle Club), the Howard County Cycling Club and the Mid-Maryland Triathlon Club. BAHC is now a §501(c)4  tax-exempt organization. You can get on our listserve by joining Friends of BAHC on yahoo groups: (http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/FriendsofBAHC/)

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Teen bicyclist hurt in hit-and-run crash

Biking in the Metro AreaCROWNSVILLE — County police are trying to identify a hit-and-run driver who struck a teen bicyclist near the Maryland Veterans Cemetery on Saturday night.

The 16-year-old boy from of Glen Burnie was riding his bicycle with three friends west on Sunrise Beach Road near the entrance of the cemetery around 8:15 p.m. when he was struck from behind by a pickup truck, police said.

The truck kept going and was seen swerving into oncoming traffic as it sped away. The teen was taken by ambulance to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore with injuries that were not considered life-threatening.

Police are seeking to identify the hit-and-run vehicle and the driver. The vehicle may be a maroon GMC Sahara and has damage to the front passenger side. Anyone with information is urged to contact county police at 410-222-8610.

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