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Wednesday, July 23 2014 @ 05:59 AM UTC


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Proposals for bicycle improvements at the state level in Maryland

Biking in the Metro Areaby
One of the sections of the plan I wrote for Western Baltimore County that didn't make it out of the internal review process was a series of recommendations with regard to the State of Maryland, and how it handles certain bicycle and/or pedestrian related transportation policies and practices.

Typically, a local jurisdiction doesn't like to provide such recommendations, because they have no control within their processes over recommendations with regard to "higher levels" of government. I argued for including these provisions because "in theory, planners are supposed to add to and extend theory" and because these kinds of disconnects or incongruencies are uncovered at the local level, and if not communicated, it's not ever likely that the programs at the state level are clued into the disconnects.

So I am offering that section here:

State of Maryland policies

[deleted] is committed to working with other jurisdictions and agencies to develop congruent policies and programs to achieve mutually desirable improvements that support and extend a positive environment for walking and bicycling.

In the process of developing the Pedestrian and Bicycle Access Plan, a number of state policies were identified that with improvements, could provide stronger support to pedestrian and bicycle goals at the local level, in keeping with the goals and objectives of the State of Maryland 20 Year Bicycle & Pedestrian Access Master Plan.

1. Complete Streets requirements. The State Highway Administration has complete streets design requirements, which require that improvements to the pedestrian and bicycling environment be made to the greatest extent possible in all road projects. By extending the requirement for pedestrian and bicyclist accommodation to other state agencies, including siting decisions for public facilities either built for use by state agencies or funded by state agencies (such as the construction of local schools), smart growth and sustainable transportation objectives will be more easily achieved.

2. Balanced transportation planning for local school districts. The most successful walk and bicycle to school programs occur as part of system wide planning and programming at the level of an entire school district. For example, school districts in Minneapolis and Boulder (among others), provide support for walk and bicycle to school programs as part of comprehensive transportation services including but not limited to the provision of bus transportation. The State of Washington requires that safe walk maps be created for all elementary schools in each school district in the state, and recommends that districts create a Traffic Safety Committee to address walk to school issues. Similar requirements in Maryland would accelerate the development of systematic and structured programs for entire school districts, which would be preferred over the ad hoc practices currently in force.

3. State university master plan requirements. State law requires that universities update their campus master plans every five years to ensure that facilities meet the institutions' needs. These requirements should include mandates for sustainable transportation planning and coordination with local jurisdictions.

4. Expanded share the road education via the Department of Motor Vehicles. At each of the four citizen workshops held in April 2010 for the Western Baltimore County Pedestrian and Bicycle Access Plan, a consensus recommendation was that “share the road” education for all modes (pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists) needed to be strengthened and improved.

While the Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles guidebook The Rules of the Road for Cars, Trucks, Motorcycles, Pedestrians and Bicyclists covers the respective laws appropriately and clearly, since it is rare for people to re-take the written test after the receipt of their initial driver’s license, perhaps the development of and the subsequent administration of a written “refresher” test on matters concerning “sharing the road” could occur as part of the driver’s license renewal process. Also, the curriculum for Driver’s Education training programs should be examined and if necessary, training and exercises with regard to pedestrian and bicyclist safety should be enhanced.

5. Commercial Driver’s License Requirements and “share the road” education and training. Similarly, the operators of commercial vehicles, especially heavy vehicles, could be encouraged to undergo additional training with regard to safe travel practices concerning pedestrians and bicyclists, as part of the license application and renewal process.

6. Expanding the curriculum for pedestrian and bicycling training for children and youth. Currently, the SHA-funded curriculum covers pedestrian topics for K-1 grades, and bicycling for grades 1-3. Developing standardized curricula for higher grades is likely in order, given the prevalence of pedestrian- and bicycle-related safety incidents involving older children and youth combined with research findings in neurology showing that the brain begins its final stages of maturation during adolescence and continues to rapidly develop well into a person’s early 20s. Therefore, new curricula/educational programs should probably be developed for older children, targeting grades 4/5, middle schools, and high school aged children. This would provide a complete and continuous pedestrian and bicycle safety educational programming for all grade levels throughout the K-12 educational process.

7. StreetSmart advertising program and the “3 feet” rule. The StreetSmart advertising campaign, funded in part by the Maryland Highway Safety Office, should expand the program to include new advertisements communicating the new state law. Below are examples from a campaign by the Regional Planning Commission for Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard and St. Tammany Parishes in Greater New Orleans. This campaign was brought to the study team’s attention by one of the attendees at the Citizen Workshop held in Catonsville (Baltimore County Council District 1).

Emailing: rpc_outdoor_3ft.jpg

Billboard advertisement promoting safer passing around bicyclists, New Orleans. Images courtesy of the New Orleans Regional Planning Agency..

Emailing: safety king2.jpg

Advertising placard affixed to a streetcar in New Orleans.

8. State of Maryland transportation enhancement program match requirements. Of all the state participants, Maryland’s requirement for local match, 50%, is the highest. This requirement is significantly higher than all of the states bordering Maryland. West Virginia and DC have a 20% match. Virginia also has a 20% match requirement, but will fully fund projects under $200,000. Delaware requires a 2% match/$100,000 of award, while Pennsylvania does not require match, considering local expenditures on preconstruction planning to satisfy match requirements. By comparison to Maryland, the bordering states have a larger and more geographically diverse number of jurisdictions participating in their enhancement program. It may be worth evaluating Maryland’s program requirements for local jurisdiction participation in the transportation enhancement program, in order to increase the number of jurisdictions actively participating, and to bring the State’s utilization of the available funding closer to 100% of available funds, versus the roughly 80% that is actually obligated.

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Howard planners take to their bikes to test county roads

Biking in the Metro AreaPart of a plan to make Columbia, county highways more pedestrian-friendly
By Larry Carson, The Baltimore Sun

Howard County traffic engineering chief Diane Schwarzman's old one-speed bike rarely gets out of her Ellicott City garage, but lately she's using a borrowed, more sophisticated two-wheeler to pedal along Columbia's streets and pathways with a few professional colleagues.

"The street is the same," she said about the experience of riding a bicycle where she normally drives a car, "but you realize the characteristics of the paved surface." The officials said riding bikes themselves helps them plan for altering streets to make them safer for cyclists.

That's becoming increasingly important as county planners see bicycles as a traffic-friendly part of the transportation mix for the redeveloped downtown Columbia, and as a part of County Executive Ken Ulman's push for environmentally sound and healthy ways to get around. Now, every road the county works on is first examined for ways to add improvements for bicycle riders.
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Crime Log, Baltimore County

Biking in the Metro Area[B' Spokes just the crimes that involve bikes listed.]

Frisby Street 3000 block at 6:30 p.m. July 8. Assailant pushed bicyclist off bike and stole it.

Springlake Way 5000 block, between 1:50 and 1:55 p.m. July 10. Bicycle stolen from open garage.

Union Avenue 1300 block, between 8:30 p.m. July 8 and 8:30 a.m. July 9. Blue Kames Koda bicycle with bell and purple flower stolen from unlocked shed.
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2010 Street Smart Campaign Materials

Biking in the Metro Areaimage

I have been very critical of the local Street Smart campaign due in part of an over emphasis on responsibility (duty?) of pedestrians to avoid being hit by cars. Even in the above pic IMHO the coffee cup should be in the drivers hands not the pedestrians, which is not to say we don't have idiot pedestrians here but when bikes and peds are treated as second class roadway users by too many of the motoring public and with distracted driving being a major problem, we need motorists to wake up and realize roads are used by all types of people and no ones hurry maters more then someone else's hurry.

So I have in part an apology to make, they are producing material for drivers, below is "Day 2 email blast." (Though their web site should be more descriptive then this.):
and tips for drivers around cyclists (titled Day 4 Email blast):
image And finally tips for cyclists (titled Day 3 Email blast):
image image
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Street Smart Campaign simplified: Pedestrians don't get hit by cars

Biking in the Metro Areaimage
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Crackdown On Aggressive Driving And Speeding

Biking in the Metro AreaBy Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun

At 25 mph, the Subaru driver managed to stop for "Bobby" — a dummy about the size of a 10-year-old boy — with about 10 feet to spare. At 40 mph, it smashed into Bobby with a sickening thud and enough impact to lift him out of his tennis shoes.

The simulated encounter between vehicle and pedestrian was part of an announcement Thursday by regional law enforcement and highway safety officials of a plan to crack down on aggressive driving — with a special emphasis on speeding and pedestrian safety.

Police officials said the initiative would include increased enforcement of traffic laws in areas with frequent crashes — with tickets to be given to jaywalking pedestrians and law-breaking bicyclists as well as motorists.
It also marked the start of the Baltimore area's Street Smart campaign, which emphasizes the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians.

Thursday's event, including the demonstration on Camden Street outside Oriole Park at Camden Yards, was part of the recurring Smooth Operator campaign, in which police step up their efforts to ticket motorists who commit the offenses that define "aggressive" driving: tailgating, weaving from lane to lane, unsafe passing, running traffic signals and speeding.

It was the last of these — perhaps the most socially acceptable and widely tolerated traffic offense — that received the most attention.

"Make no mistake, speeding is aggressive driving," said Vernon Betkey, director of the State Highway Administration's safety office.

For this campaign, officials stressed the dangers of what are typically viewed as moderately excessive speeds when pedestrians are present. Betkey said that 70 percent of the pedestrians killed in 2008 on Maryland roads were struck on streets with speed limits of 35 mph or less.

Excessive speed, Betkey said, increases risks exponentially. The highway safety official was joined at the event by representatives of the Baltimore police, the Motor Vehicle Administration and the Baltimore Department of Transportation.

The main event of the news conference was the demonstration of the results when a driver comes upon a pedestrian at different speeds. Tom Pecoraro, a driving instructor at I Drive Smart who is also a Montgomery County police officer, took his place behind the wheel of the test car and braked at the same spot in each of the tests.

Thomas J. Gianni, deputy director of the SHA Highway Safety Office, said that at 25 mph — the prevailing speed limit on most of the city's streets — the stopping distance is about 16 feet. When he applied the brakes at that speed, Pecoraro came close enough to the wire-frame dummy that it likely would have thrown a scare into a child, but no physical harm would have been done.

At 35 mph, Gianni said, the stopping distance is 44 feet — and that wasn't enough to keep Pecoraro's car from hitting the dummy with enough force that another "Bobby" had to go in as a substitute. "Bobby clearly sustained major and maybe fatal injuries," Gianni said as workers carried off detached limbs.

When a car is traveling at 40 mph — barely above the 12-mph cushion allowed for drivers in 25-mph school zones equipped with speed cameras — the stopping distance increases to 57 feet, Gianni said. And when Pecoraro hit the new Bobby at that speed, the dummy was pushed far down the road as sneakers went flying. The simulation left little question that if the impact had been on flesh and blood, the result would have been fatal.

Jeremy Gunderson, a state highway agency spokesman, said the demonstration was meant to show that even "socially acceptable excessive speeds" can have deadly consequences.

Pecoraro said after the demonstration that the act of hitting the simulated child had set his heart racing.

"Even though I knew it was a dummy and I knew I was going to hit it, it was still a shock," he said.

Pecoraro said pedestrian deaths are among the most difficult to investigate because of the "carnage."

"It's not just vehicles. It's bodies on the highway," he said.

The Smooth Operator campaign, first launched in Washington in 1997 and now including Maryland and Virginia, consists of four "waves" of increased enforcement between June and September. The current wave began Sunday and runs through Saturday.

Officials said the first wave from June 6-12 accounted for more than 90,000 traffic citations. The next is expected to run Aug. 1-7.
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This Road Ain't Big Enough For the Both of Us

Biking in the Metro Areaby The Verbal Ecdysiast

I was accelerating down York Road toward Lower Glencoe on my bike the other day, helmet on, heart filled with glee. To my left the sunlight was filtering through the trees, creating a richter-tape of tree shadows upon the road: glorious. Such delightful and immeasurable freedom of the senses can be found in physical velocity at forty plus miles per hour. Yet I purposely remained in the right margin, though Maryland State traffic law clearly maintains that a bicycle is just as much a vehicle as a car, and therefore, technically, I had and have the right to be riding on the road. Now, mind you, the right margin of York Road is analogous to a moonscape--pockmarked and cratered--not nearly as nice as the newly paved asphalt of the main road; however, for the sake of boundaries and safety I remained in the rough. Imagine my surprise, then, when I heard a rather corpulent four-by-four come upon my left rear, and subsequently, it's invasive honk, or more precisely, the glaring ugliness of the driver manifested in the sound of his staccato horn. I jumped like a dog for a biscuit: no easy manifestation of the central nervous system, when one's feet are clipped into her pedals which are still turning at over forty miles per hour. Further, I surprised myself: I ignored him. "I'm not in his way," I mused, remaining very cool and logical. "Why did he honk? Surely he will pass me, now," I thought.

I thought wrong.

Now, nearly alongside me (I could see the truck was a hefty white four-by-four Dodge Ram), he honked AGAIN, and leered down upon me. That did it. So much for cool logic. I did what any red-blooded cyclist does when she is infuriated: I gave him the finger.

He pealed out in front of me, his truck screeching as he briefly accelerated, then screeching again as he brought the truck to a halt about one-hundred yards in front of me and directly in my way.

I could try to go around him, but of course, he could still tangle with me. After all, the simple, unalterable, inexorable laws of physics dictate that when and if an accelerating bicyclist on a bicycle has some sort of, er, let's say, "interaction" with a driver in a truck, the truck and therefore its driver will always win.

I could simply stop, but again, at forty miles per hour or more, the chances of flying over the handlebars were about fifty-fifty. And indeed, for she who is clipped in, Confucius say "she who stop bike short with hands take bike along on her feet...heheheh, vewwwwyyy twickyyyy...." ...but not an option.

I was so angry (and all of the above had flown through my head in about five seconds) that I slowed deliberately and consistently over about seventy-five yards, brought my bike to a halt and unclipped in about ten seconds.

During that ten seconds, the driver exited his truck, slammed his door shut, and stood beside the door with his arms folded. I found myself rapidly approaching the O-K Corral at high noon. I saw that this man had on a wife-beater t-shirt with fully tatooed arms, and from his posture, he seemed bent on bullying and intimidating those who dared to cross either his path or him. Pity the fool.
... (more)
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Harford Co. man dies after scooter struck

Biking in the Metro AreaBy Jessica Anderson, The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore County police are investigating a fatal accident involving a Harford County driver on a scooter in Parkville early Saturday morning.

Shawn Appel, 30, of the 2500 block of Shuresville Road in Darlington was struck at the intersection of Perring Parkway and Taylor Avenue at about 3:12 a.m. Saturday, police said.

A Mercury Sable heading north on Perring Parkway collided with the scooter, throwing Appel from it, police said. Appel was pronounced dead at the scene.

No one has been charged, police said. The investigation is ongoing.
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Real Life on a Bike – Robert Anderson, Maryland's Practical Cyclist

Biking in the Metro AreaRobert Anderson - Real Life on a Bike

Jeff Ouellette

Ellicott City, Columbia, Maryland

By Dena Jackson

The life of Robert Anderson, a practical cyclist, blogger and commuter, changed three years ago after his doctor told him he was pre-diabetic. Some years earlier, Anderson had moved across the country for a career change as a software executive at Vectorworks in Columbia, Maryland.

“When I got the doctor’s bad news, I took up a cycle-commuting habit to improve my health. Now biking is a surprisingly large part of my life and I am surprised how much I enjoy and look forward to it,” he said.

A favorite part of Anderson’s commute is the hills.

“I have five hills going each way, and I can enjoy the vegetation, birds and sky while getting a real workout, and getting my heart rate up,” he said.

In his experience, Anderson said Columbia’s motorists are mostly reasonable and polite, and annoyances on his commute are few. Once in awhile, however, he is chagrined by the occasional car full of young adolescent boys who like to get right up behind him and honk. “It can be a definite nuisance,” said Anderson.

Anderson is so passionate about cycling, he initiated a great bike commuting blog,, and plans to get his League of American Bicyclists Instructor certification so he can open a cycle commuting class at his local community college. Anderson believes sharrows and improved pavement could contribute to a more enjoyable commute.

“Bikes need better paving than cars do. As for people doing great work, I admire the nearby folks in Washington, DC at Bikes for the World ( and think they are doing fantastic work,” he said.

When reading his highly compelling and professional blog, where in one post Anderson salivates over New York City cycling charts, one wonders at Anderson’s exact definition of being a “practical cyclist.”

“I think of practical cycling as cycling that displaces car miles: commuting, errands, anything that you do on a daily and needful basis,” he said.

Two years ago, Anderson struggled to get in 3,000 miles in a year, including recreational rides. Last year, he was able to get almost 3,700 purely “practical” miles under his belt.

Were you to ask Anderson what being a “self-propelled” person means, he might quote you a familiar advertising pitch:

“A decent commuting bike: $700; panniers, pump, lock and patch kit: $100; helmet, gloves and bike shoes: $150; the self-esteem you get from being self-propelled and always being able to wear your ‘skinny jeans’: priceless.”

by Dena Jackson

7/1/10 8:48 PM

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Moped Rider Dies In Howard County Crash

Biking in the Metro AreaCOLUMBIA, M.D. -- A moped crash in Howard County resulted in the death of the rider.

Police said the crash happened at about 12:53 p.m. Sunday near the intersection of Tamar Driver and Foreland Garth in Columbia.

Officers said a SUV was turning left from Tamar Drive when it collided with the moped, driven by Mohammed Hammad Chaudhry, 24, of Columbia.

Chaudhry was flown to Shock Trauma in Baltimore and later pronounced dead.

Officials said the driver of the SUV, identified as Marganta Gonzalez Cruz, 45, also of Columbia, was uninjured.

The crash is still under investigation.

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