HB 445 Overtaking Another Vehicle - Unfavorable Report by Environmental Matters

I am so disappointed, words can't describe how poorly executed this desperately needed change in law was executed.

Next time can we please have clear language that motorist can pass cyclist over the double yellow when safe to do so, please.

<a href="http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?pid=billpage&amp;stab=03&amp;id=hb0445&amp;tab=subject3&amp;ys=2013RS">http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?pid=billpage&amp;stab=03&amp;id=hb0445&amp;tab=subject3&amp;ys=2013RS</a>;
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Come to Annapolis and lobby with us!

We need to organize something like this for Baltimore. So I'm looking for a volunteer to be the key contact and other cyclists to help lobby. For now I can be the source contact, email me at info@[name of this site]

Forwarded email:
Needed: Cyclists to help lobby Maryland state legislators this week regarding the mandatory helmet bill (HB 339). 
We need to stop this bill because it would kill bikeshare in Montgomery County before it even gets off the ground.  It would deter transportation biking.
Many of us will be at the annual bike symposium this Wedneday Feb. 27.  A few of us plan to step away at times and seek out delegates and senators to let them know we oppose the bill.  We could certainly use help in that effort.  We'll probably go around in pairs, so no one will have to fend for themselves!
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Del. Maggie McIntosh Supports Helmet Law

For the bill's sponsor, Del. Maggie McIntosh, the issue is black and white. The idea dawned on the Baltimore Democrat as she passed by a cyclist during her morning commute. In the bike lane next to her car on St. Paul Street, a popular route for city cyclists, a rider was cruising along with traffic, head uncovered.

"I thought, 'Wow; we're doing all this stuff in the legislature to keep cars away from bicyclists, and we should,'" McIntosh said. "But there are people commuting to work on a busy city street and they do not have a helmet on.
Via: Baltimore Sun, via: http://www.thewashcycle.com/2013/02/nancy-floreen-supports-helmet-law.html
So she thinks cycling is dangerous without a helmet? Well kinda:
Via: http://www.equinoxcenter.org/sustainability-blog/Factoid-Friday-Is-Biking-Safe.html

But that graphic is for national averages and I will strongly assert walking in Baltimore is far more dangerous then biking without a helmet.
If Maryland counties were a metro area and how it compares in pedestrian issues
Pedestrians involved in traffic crashes, Baltimore City represents 32% of the state!!!
FARS 2010 DATA (Maryland is still in the top 10 (worst))
In Baltimore we have one cyclist death vs 10 pedestrian deaths and 11 motor vehicle drivers deaths and the concern here is with one helmetless rider??? We need to end the thinking that cars are safe and cycling is not.
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Recording of the House Hearing on Two Bike Bills

It seems really strange to me when Maryland bike fatalities drop from our usual 10-12 down to 5 (2011) that our legislature wants to increase our safety by putting more onus on us with a mandatory helmet law. Del McIntosh seems to have developed this concern after seeing a un-helmeted cyclist in Baltimore. Baltimore averages about one cyclist death a year and the most common thing that sticks out in my mind is right turning vehicles violating the cyclists right-a-way (Yates &amp; Krasnopoler) and helmets did not help those two.

The opponents testimony against removing the narrow highway exception are trucking organisations and why they want this exception so... well let's skip to the bit that they would be open to being allowed to pass a cyclist over the double yellow, that's cool. We need to push for an amendment to say this!!! I usually have a lot of respect for trucks driving on our two lane roads but a general exception for anyone and everyone where the intent is if you can't legally and safely pass you can legally unsafely pass has to go!

Here's he link:
<a href="http://mgahouse.maryland.gov/House/Play/bd499eefbe5a46f98bcd982c68901cc21d?catalog=03e481c7-8a42-4438-a7da-93ff74bdaa4c">http://mgahouse.maryland.gov/House/Play/bd499eefbe5a46f98bcd982c68901cc21d?catalog=03e481c7-8a42-4438-a7da-93ff74bdaa4c</a>;

The bike bills last 1:47 and there is one other bill (short) stuck in between..
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Rebutting helmets reduce head injuries by 85%

Key paragraphs from the article: http://www.thewashcycle.com/2013/02/bike-helmets-reduce-injuries-by-about-10-20.html

The best way to know the effectiveness of a drug or helmet is to get a representative sample of the population, and then randomly assign them to the test group or the control group. Such an experiment allows one to reliably estimate effectiveness subject to a statistical margin of error. But we don’t know who will be involved in a crash, and if we did, it would be unethical to tell them whether to wear a helmet. Instead, researchers collect data after the fact.

In 1989, Thompson et al. obtained data from Seattle hospitals for two groups of cyclists who went to the hospital after a crash. Only 7% of the first group wore a helmet, and they all had head injuries. But 24% of the second group wore helmets, and none of them had head injuries. Assuming that both groups were the same except for the type of injury they experienced, these results imply that helmets reduced head injuries by 75%. Thompson et al. realized that the two groups were different, ran regression analysis on the data to isolate the effects of helmets and found that helmets were even more effective: 85%.

That study led the researchers to start saying two things that have almost become mantras among many public safety advocates: “Helmets reduce head injuries by 85%” and “The most important thing you can do to be safe on a bike is wear a helmet.”

In the last 24 years, similar studies have found that helmets reduce head injuries, but to a less extent than in the Seattle Study. A comprehensive synthesis of all studies in 2001 estimated 53-63% effectiveness, but because helmets increase neck injuries, the net effectiveness is 41--0%. Studies in the last decade have estimated that helmets only prevent 20-40% of potential head injuries, so the most recent synthesis of all studies ever published finds the helmets reduce head injuries by 30--50% and total injuries by 10-20%, when you include the increased neck injuries. But we still hear the refrain “helmets reduce injuries up to 85%!”
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Greg Hinchliffe Letter Opposing the Mandatory Helmet Bill

Honorable Delegates:

I am a long time bicycle advocate in Baltimore City. I have chaired the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee and currently serve on the Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. I have testified in Annapolis and worked with the General Assembly and the administration on bicycle access and safety issues. I would like the thank the delegates for their past support for important bicycle safety legislation, such as the three-foot bill and the repeal of mandatory shoulder use.

It may seem strange to hear this from a bicycle safety advocate, but I am strongly opposed to House Bill 339, which would mandate helmet use for adult bicyclists. I am a proponent of helmet use and have participated in helmet education efforts and have helped finance helmet give-away programs, although I think that the measure of additional safety helmets provide has been exaggerated. But encouraging helmet use is a very different thing from banning cycling without a helmet, and I fear that such a ban would actually decrease bicycling safety.

This is counterintuitive, so let me explain. One of the most effective ways to increase the safety of bicyclists is to get more of them on the road. The increased presence of cyclists leads to increased awareness and acceptance by motorists, leading to better driving and fewer crashes. Eventually, the increased numbers reach a critical mass, leading to the extremely safe cycling environments found in the cities of Europe and on the west coast of the US. Preventing crashes in this way is far more important than the marginal amount of protection afforded by a helmet, which only comes into play once a crash has happened. Unfortunately, mandatory helmet laws have been demonstrated to reduce the level of bicycling, sometimes drastically. Such laws also destroy bike-share programs, such as the very successful Capital Bikeshare in the DC area, and the similar systems envisioned for Baltimore and Annapolis. Fewer cyclists mean more dangerous cycling, which leads to even fewer cyclists, a vicious circle if I ever saw one, not to mention the loss of the health benefits of bicycling to both the discouraged would-be cyclist and society at large.

This is not just a matter of “finding a new sport”. Sport cyclists already overwhelmingly use helmets, as they can easily afford them and don’t mind carrying them in the car, along with the bike, out to the trail or country road where they cycle. The cycling which I have spent decades advocating is utility cycling for transportation, sometimes by people who cannot afford anything else. This is where a mandatory helmet law would prove more burdensome.

By all means, encourage helmet use, and give them away if you can find the funding, but please don’t ban helmetless cycling. However well intentioned this is, I fear it would do more harm than good.

Thank you for your consideration,

Greg Hinchliffe
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My Letter Supporting the Bicycling Safety Act

To: members of the House Motor Vehicles &amp; Transportation Subcommittee (<a href="http://msa.maryland.gov/msa/mdmanual/06hse/html/com/04env.html#mass">http://msa.maryland.gov/msa/mdmanual/06hse/html/com/04env.html#mass</a>; )

Subj: HB 445 Overtaking Another Vehicle - Support

MDOT recently released the following &quot;safety&quot; advice through DNR list serve:

The 3-Foot Passing Law – Motorists are now required to give cyclists 3 feet of clear­ance when pass­ing. The 3-foot law has an exemption for roads that are too nar­row to allow 3 feet of clear­ance safely. In this case, drivers are allowed to pass cyclists with less than 3 feet.

What are they saying, if you can't pass a cyclist safely you can pass unsafely?

Point One:
The 3 foot passing distance does not negate the safe passing requirement. A simplified formula for safe passing is one foot of passing distance for every ten mph. That's why you can safely park in 7 foot lanes and 12 foot lanes are needed on the freeway. The faster the speed the more separating distance that is needed... that's safety! A point that MDOT has continually missed since 2010.

Point Two:
If a two lane highway has enough width to pass a cyclists with three feet, the narrow highway exception must apply to something much narrower, which leaves a very narrow one lane highway. There is no way to safely pass a lawful riding cyclist on such a road UNLESS the cyclist is being cooperative in allowing the motorist to pass. Even then slow speeds are required by the passing motorist.

If MDOT does not get the narrow highway exception what hope do we have that the general driving public will get MDOT's poorly worded version? And if MDOT's mission is for improved road safety why are they pushing a poorly worded version of the narrow highway exception? How is that going to improve cyclists safety? Is it really going to improve the motorist travel time by MDOT saying when you can't pass a cyclists you can pass a cyclist... whoops a crash. That's going to take more time then waiting behind the cyclist until you can safely pass.

Please, until such time that drivers are being unfairly ticketed on one lane highways for violation of the 3 foot law when passing a cyclist cooperatively (everyone doing the best that they can) let's just drop this exception OK?

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