Updated Update: MVA Misfeasance

Updated update: While I did get a written response John Kuo, I will not post it. The issue is the only tools at John's disposal are the Drivers' Manual and Drivers' Ed materials, he is not in a position to interpret laws. While this seems reasonable at first glance using car centric MVA materiel to interpret bicycling laws and having more AAG's (Assistant Attorney General) in the phone directory then I can shake a stick at, this is really turning into more bother then what should be necessary. For now Maryland's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee and Maryland Highways Safety Office (Peter Moe) is working on this issue, so hold off on writing folks till we see what they come up with.

By my analysis the hang up is around "§ 21-1202. Traffic laws apply to bicycles and motor scooters." So what John has at his disposal he asserts is applicable to cyclists. But just as the Drivers' Manual fails to mention all the exceptions to our riding far right rule (such as when a lane is too narrow to share) they also fail to mention all the exceptions to § 21-1202. Bicycle law is more akin to Slow Moving Vehicles (SMV) then regular Motor Vehicles (MV) capable of doing the speed limit. So while it is illegal for a MV to go so slow that it impedes traffic a SMV is basically limited to stay in the right thru lane (unless making a left turn or avoiding hazards) and cycling rules are very similar.

The upside to all this there has been a lot of conversations around improvements at MVA and John is a pleasant person to talk with and very receptive to ideas but as far as bicycle laws he knows what he knows and that's that. Again let's wait till we see what others can do before jumping on anyone's case.

Update: I just got a call from John Kuo MVA Administrator he sends his apologies and they will be issuing a correction as well as putting information about how to drive safely around cyclists on the MVA web site. They will also be consulting with Peter Moe of Maryland Highway Safety Office who does a good job of presenting issues fairly, his work can be seen here

Good job to everyone who responded! We got some serious attention on this. Thank you.

Original alert after the fold. (No longer applicable.)

It is extremely harmful for MVA to incorrectly state: MVA is actively engaging in creating a hostile cycling environment by incorrectly telling motorists that cyclists must ride as far right as practical (in the Drivers' Handbook) and now this junk from the MVA. While in literature for cyclists' says cyclists should for their safety ride in the middle of the lane. This is just perverse and has to stop!
(Note: most roads in Maryland are too narrow for a motorist and cyclists to safely share side by side but when this is not the case different rules apply then mentioned here.)

Cyclists basic legal lane position is based on width of the lane and if a bike lane exists and has nothing to do with a 15mph speed differential.

I am writing to demand a swift correction and disciplinary action taken against Mr. Young for giving false and misleading advice while falsely claiming/implying legal expertise as well as negligence in the discharge of his duty for MVA.

(Note: appropriate laws are referenced after the fold.)

Send to:
Governor Martin O'Malley governor@gov.state.md.us ;
Secretary of Transportation Beverley Swaim-Staley bswaim-staley@mdot.state.md.us ;
Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Administration John Kuo jkuo@marylandmva.com

and if you care to write the author of misstatements
Buel Young byoung@marylandmva.com ;

Excerpt from the Baltimore Sun

Buel Young, spokesman for the Motor Vehicle Administration.

According to Young, the bicycle "has all the rights and responsibilities" of any other vehicle. One of those responsibilities, he said, is to avoid impeding traffic.

But what does that mean? It turns out there's a very precise answer.

According to Young, a vehicle is impeding traffic if it is forcing following vehicles to slow down to more than 15 mph under the speed limit. Anything less and the driver just has to wait his turn.

Let's say you're driving along a winding country road with a speed limit of 35 mph and you come upon a bicycle in the middle of your lane, pedaling at 15 mph. The law says the bicyclist has the responsibility to move aside and let you pass.

But let's say the speed limit on that country lane is 25 mph. As long as the bicyclist can keep up a pace of 10 mph or more, the bicyclist has the right to use the traffic lane and the driver has no legal recourse but to slow down and exercise patience until the bicyclist moves aside or the double yellow ends. Blaring the horn to prod the bicyclist to move aside is unsafe, illegal and downright rude.

Now let's say the bicyclist is in the wrong – blithely hogging the travel lane while slowing the motorist to 20 mph under the speed limit. In that case, the buffer rule does not apply. But drivers who would prefer not to spend their day explaining that to police after a collision should keep their distance anyway.


§ 21-804. Minimum speed regulation.
(a) Slow speed impeding traffic prohibited.- Unless reduced speed is necessary for the safe operation of the vehicle or otherwise is in compliance with law, a person may not willfully drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.
(Note: a bicycle is not a motor vehicle and usually go as fast as they reasonably can (you can't be accused of purposely going slow if you are going as fast as you can.))

§ 21-1202. Traffic laws apply to bicycles and motor scooters.
Every person operating a bicycle or a motor scooter in a public bicycle area has all the rights granted to and is subject to all the duties required of the driver of a vehicle by this title, including the duties set forth in § 21-504 of this title, except:
(1) As otherwise provided in this subtitle; and
(2) For those provisions of this title that by their very nature cannot apply.

§ 21-1205. Riding on roadways or on highway.
(a) Riding to right side of roadway.- Each person operating a bicycle or a motor scooter at a speed less than the speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing on a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable and safe, except when:
(1) Making or attempting to make a left turn;
(2) Operating on a one-way street;
(3) Passing a stopped or slower moving vehicle;
(4) Avoiding pedestrians or road hazards;
(5) The right lane is a right turn only lane; or
(6) Operating in a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle or motor scooter and another vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.

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