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It would be very interesting to find out if the following statements are true. Has anyone else been told to ride on the sidewalk in Montgomery County?


Hit by car in Montgomery County MD by nd4speed7

11-11-08, 09:52 AM
Junior Member of www.bikeforums.net
Location: Damascus, MD

I was commuting in to work this morning when a lady struck me as she turned out onto the roadway. Luckily I was going less than 20 mph, but I fell off my bike and scraped up my knee, hip and elbow. My bike was not so lucky the handlebars got all bent up. Fire and police came and I went to the hospital for x-rays and to clean my wounds.

The officer taking the report said that I was at fault because I was not riding on the sidewalk and that Montgomery County laws supersede the Maryland State law that says I can ride on the road. The officer did not give me a ticket though, but said that since I was at fault that if there was any damage to her vehicle that I could be charged for it.

How do I find out if the County laws are allowed to supersede the state laws? And if they do not how can I fight this to get reimbursed for my bike and the medical costs?

By: Likes:

Bicyclists are being told to ride on the sidewalk all over the state and it is especially problematic in Montgomery County which is the only place in the state that I am aware of where sidewalk riding is legally allowed.

FWIW State law allows localities to legalize sidewalk riding, it is not the case that local law can over ride state law.

Registered: 06/14/05
Posts: 47
Location: Baltimore MD
By: Likes:

The Montgomery County Code might allow bicycle riding on the sidewalk, but that is irrelevent.

First of all, generally, the Montgomery County Code cannot "override" Maryland State Code unless the State Code explicity allows the County to pass such a law.

Secondly, as far as I can tell, there is no provision in the Montgomery County Code that prohibits bicycle riding in the street. Moreover, as far as I can tell, there is nothing in the Maryland State Code that prohibits bicycle riding in the street in Montgomery County. (Notwithstanding laws that prohibit bicycling on restricted access roads, such as interstate highways, of course.)

Bottom line is that the cop does appear to be wrong (which is common).

Louis Wilen
Olney, MD

From the Maryland Code - Transportation:

§ 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.

[An. Code 1957, art. 661/2, § 11-1202; 1977, ch. 14, § 2; 1995, ch. 495, § 2; 2001, ch. 557.]

§ 21-1203. Riding on bicycles or motor scooters.

(a) Operator to be seated.- The operator of a bicycle or a motor scooter may ride the bicycle or motor scooter only on or astride a permanent and regular seat securely attached to it.

(b) Seat required for passenger - Bicycle.- A bicycle may not carry any passenger unless it is designed for and equipped with a seat securely attached to it for each passenger.

(c) Same - Motor scooter.- A motor scooter may not carry any passenger unless it is designed for and equipped with a seat securely attached to it and footrests for each passenger.

[An. Code 1957, art. 661/2, § 11-1203; 1977, ch. 14, § 2; 2001, ch. 557.]

By: Likes:

Update: The police have admitted to their error and have corrected their report.

And to clarify bicycle riding on roadways with speed limits of 50mph or lower is legal in all of Maryland.

Registered: 06/14/05
Posts: 47
Location: Baltimore MD
By: Likes:

I hope that the motorist is now considered liable for running into you.

Motorists are liable for hitting pedestrians, and I would guess that even a cop would know that.

The maxim of 'with increased power comes increased responsibility' needs to be applied here. Motorists have much power at their disposal and need to be aware of their surroundings as they move their vehicle over public roadways. Just because they have blind spots or are on the phone or doing something with their ipod does not make them any less responsible and liable.

In Common Law, the idea of using public roads is that you literally own the section of road that you are on at that moment. If someone else enters your space, they are guilty of trespassing and are liable for personal and property damage (this is how I remember it from law classes many years ago and I am not a lawyer). These principles are what you should fight for, and if the policeman does not understand it, then Mr. hollow-point bullet head had better get off of the shooting range and into a law classroom. Enforcing laws that they don't even know or understand ?

This is where getting to know the often ignored city council person or state house rep comes in. They are the ones whom we are supposed to use when you run into injustices and stupidity, or, in your case, when they run into you.

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