General Assembly Session Ends on a High Note

Hi Everyone,

With so much attention being directed to the November Special Session, the 2008 Regular Session seemed almost subdued. But One Less Car was in the thick of things, working to ensure better access and more funding for our bicycle, pedestrian and transit networks.

One Less Car's successes this year include the passage of a bill that we assisted in drafting which eliminates the current prohibition on bicycle and pedestrian facilities on state-owned bridges. This means that future and existing bridges can now be built with bike and walking paths. This is a huge win. The advocacy community can now make a confident push for bike/ped accommodations on the new Nice Bridge over the Potomac River, which is now being planned, as well as on the Hattum Bridge over the Susquehanna River, which must be refitted in the near future.

We also assisted in taking the lead on two major pieces of transit legislation - a bill making it easier for the state to assemble and promote land around transit stations for the purpose of creating more walkable and bikable communities, as well as legislation that reduced the onerous farebox recovery requirement for the Maryland Transit Administration.

OLC also had a hand in the creation of a new task force that will examine the effects of "quiet cars" (i.e. hybrids that emit very low levels of noise) on bicyclists and at-risk pedestrians.

Letdowns of the session included the millions cut from the Transportation Trust Fund to offset the rejection of the tech tax, the failure of bills aimed at stopping construction of the Intercounty Connector Highway project, the failure of a bill aimed at increasing potential penalties for reckless motorists, and the long, unsuccessful fight to pass One Less Car's "Bicycle Safety Bill," which would have mandated a three-foot buffer for cyclists when being passed by cars.

The successes from this year's session were due in no small part to the activism of One Less Car members. Many of you responded to our electronic legislative alerts by contacting legislators by phone and email. We hope you will be just as active next year!

Richard Chambers, Executive Director

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