The Baltimore County Police Department and the Maryland State Police do an outstanding job in keeping the roads of our communities safe. Unfortunately, they cannot be everywhere at once, and the toll of traffic fatalities continues to impact innocent victims. In the upcoming legislative session, Baltimore County will continue to support legislation authorizing local governments to deploy traffic speed monitoring technology to reduce dangerous speeding on highways throughout Maryland.
Congress is currently putting together an economic stimulus package to have ready when the new Congress returns in early January. While public details of the forthcoming stimulus bill is not available, we are hearing that there is a chance that funds for transportation and infrastructure projects in the stimulus package may go overwhelmingly to road projects—the same unbalanced strategy that has created our existing transportation problems.
We must speak up now to make sure that the economic stimulus language maintains the established transportation funding allocations including the Transportation Enhancement set aside which is the primary source for bicycle and pedestrian projects.
Please take a moment to click onto the take action button to contact your Congressional Member now.
League of American Bicyclists
(5) After consultation with political subdivisions in the State, identifies bicycle-pedestrian priority areas to facilitate the targeting of available funds to those areas of the State most in need.
(b) Duties of the Director. – To carry out the purposes of this subtitle,
(3) Initiate a program of systematic identification of and planning for projects related to bicycle and pedestrian transportation that qualify for funds under Federal Highway Administration guidelines; [***Note that there is no clause that limits this to only State Roads.]
[***Do we even have such a program for the political subdivisions? The State's Bicycle Master Plan contains NO bicycle priority areas in the political subdivisions and/or funding for projects are not directed to areas on the bases of need. Also note all of our projects qualify for funds under FHWA guidelines but but are denied because of the State's guidelines, is that legal?]
TITLE 3 FINANCING BY DEPARTMENT Subtitle 2 Consolidated Transportation Bonds 3-216 Transportation Trust Fund
(d) Other uses of Fund
(5) For each fiscal year, the Department shall use the funds in the Transportation Trust Fund for the purposes specified in subsection (c)(2)(ii) of this section, which may include construction and maintenance:
(ii) Bicycle ways as defined in section 21-101 (l) of this article; [***This includes bike lanes and shoulders.]
[***We are up for funding annually???]
TITLE 8 HIGHWAYS Subtitle 2. State Highway Administration Part I Administration in General 8-204 General powers and duties of Administration
(i) Bicycle priority route system. – The Administration shall:
(1) Plan, select, construct, improve, and maintain the State highway system; and
(2) By July I, 1997, in accordance with local governments, draft a plan for a bicycle priority route system that provides a viable network for bicycle transportation throughout the State.
[***Item 2 seems to have fallen to the wayside or is not being updated. It seems to me establishing our regional bike network is a duty. <a href="http://www.baltometro.org/BRTP2001/RegionalMap.pdf">http://www.baltometro.org/BRTP2001/RegionalMap.pdf</a>]
2-602 Public Policy.
The General Assembly finds that it is in the public interest for the State to include enhanced transportation facilities for pedestrians and bicycle riders as an essential component of the State’s transportation system, and declares that it is policy of the State that:
(1) Access to and use of transportation facilities by pedestrians and bicycle riders shall be considered and best engineering practices regarding the needs of bicycle riders and pedestrians shall be employed in all phases of transportation planning, including highway design, construction, reconstruction, and repair as well as expansion and improvement of other transportation facilities;
While Md law needs to become more equitable toward bicyclists, the law merely defines the boundary of proper conduct and doesn't teach one how to drive a car or ride a bicycle in traffic. One philosophy is that the fewer laws the better. The design of rotarys, merge areas, and certain shopping centers like Hunt Valley Mall illustrate this philosophy.
While motorists should generally stay out of bike lanes (and shoulders), there are certain exceptions like preparing to make a right hand turn or parking, where permitted. Md Law also permits traffic to use a right hand shoulder to go around traffic preparing to make a left hand turn.
Unfortunately, current Md Law has a high bar to convict someone of automobile manslaughter. Generally to convict, a driver must be either drunk or guilty of three or more violations. Bicyclists aren't the only ones harmed by this high threshold. People in a limo who were going straight were broadsided by a left turning truck who failed to yield the right of away. Several people in the limo were killed, and the Attorney General refused to prosecute the truck driver for manslaughter, saying that failure to yield didn't meet Md's stringent requirements. Another example several years ago was several people who were killed while waiting on the SIDEWALK of Woodlawn Blvd in dry weather for a bus. A car doing 50+ in a 30 MPH zone jumped the curb and killed several people. Again, this speeding violation didn't meet Md's threshold for an automobile manslaughter conviction, and the driver merely got a $500 fine for each person he killed.
How The Law Works:
· For employees who regularly commute to work by bicycle, employers may offset the costs of bicycle purchase, improvement, repair, and storage at the rate of $20 per month.
· Based on how the employer chooses to offer the benefits, the employee may bring receipts to be reimbursed, may sign up for regular monthly payments, or devise some sort of voucher system with their employer.
· Bike commuters are not allowed to receive transit or parking benefits in addition to the bike benefit.
· The bike commuter benefit can be provided by employers beginning January 1, 2009.
Contact Your United States Senator
We understand that the United States Senate may vote on an energy legislation package this week, (The Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008), which will provide a number of incentives to promote clean energy sources.
The Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008, also includes the bicycle commuter tax benefit provision, previously introduced by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). The provision provides for qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement for such reasonable expenses incurred by an employee for the purchase of a bicycle, bicycle improvements, repair, and storage.
The Senate is expected to vote on this legislation either tomorrow Thursday, September 18, or Friday, the 19th. Please take a moment to contact your Senator to urge them to vote yes on the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008
Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.
The House Congressional Resolution on Bicycling (H.Con.Res. 305), introduced in February, calls on the United States Congress to adopt a national bicycling strategy to fully realize the incredible benefits of getting more people bicycling, more safely, more often. There is a "sense of Congress" that complete streets policies are essential to ensure wise use of considerable Federal investment in transportation infrastructure, and that expanded funding for bicycling and walking programs is desirable and appropriate.
As we celebrate National Bike Month in May, cities and organizations throughout the country will be hosting events promoting bicycling as a healthy, fun, and viable form of transportation. This is also a perfect opportunity to contact your Congressional Representatives to thank those that have signed onto the Resolution and urge those that have not to so.
A good showing for the Resolution is essential as this would serve as the first ever comprehensive bicycling policy statement and would serve as an important policy statement guide for the next transportation reauthorization which begins next year (2009).
As part of National Bike Month please take a moment to Contact your Congressional Member to urge them to support HCONRES305.
PLEASE do not head across the Bay Bridge or through the Harbor Tunnel on your Schwinn claiming this new law as justification. It is still prohibited. Instead, participate fully in the public input to future construction and rehab projects to make them bike/ped accessible.[Read comment for more details.]
Thank you to everyone who wrote their Senators and Delegates.
- John Z Wetmore
Co-sponsors and supporters of S. 2686 are essential - please call or write to your Senator today to gain their support. Visit the Complete Streets website for talking points, fact sheets and updated information. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is supporting this bill, as complete streets help to make our roadways safer for everyone, including children, the most vulnerable users.
[Maryland ranks in the top 10 worst states with the highest ratio of bike/ped traffic fatalities, this is important to us. I will also note that during the previous administration too often the additional ~2% expense for complete streets where appropriate was claimed to be too expensive while at the same time coming in UNDER the transportation budget by ~2% (the transportation budget includes many big ticket items where complete streets would not be appropriate for the bulk of the project, such as expressway expansion.) We need policy to counteract this sort of malfeasance.]