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Spring into Highway Safety by Remembering the Rules Of The Road

By State Highway Administration, The Bay Net

Drivers should be Alert to Increased Road Activity as Warm Weather Moves Into Maryland

As warmer temperatures bring blooms onto Maryland’s native plants and trees, they also bring an increase in traffic volumes on Maryland’s highways. With construction projects resuming, fans are going in droves to Orioles and Nationals games, students returning to school following spring break and cyclists taking to roads and trails, the Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration (SHA) and Motor Vehicles Administration (MVA) and the Maryland State Police (MSP) remind everyone to obey the rules of the road and to drive and bike responsibly.

The partnership between MSP, SHA and MVA is vital as they work together to educate motorists on the rules of the road in an effort to reduce fatalities on Maryland roads to zero. Traffic crashes continue to be a leading cause of death for Maryland residents. In addition, many thousands of people across Maryland suffered injuries, and the overall economic impact of crashes measures in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

“In Maryland, aggressive driving, especially speeding, is a real threat on our roadways. Speeding contributes to 40 percent of aggressive driving fatalities,” said Maryland MVA Administrator and Governor Martin O’Malley’s Highway Safety Representative John T. Kuo. “I caution all drivers as the weather improves to slow down, buckle up and to drive responsibly. We’re all working Toward Zero Deaths in Maryland because every life counts.”

<a href="http://www.thebaynet.com/news/index.cfm/fa/viewstory/story_ID/31639">http://www.thebaynet.com/news/index.cfm/fa/viewstory/story_ID/31639</a>;
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Via The Daily Beast

42, Maryland
Fatal crashes: 513
Driver's licenses: 3,786,650
Most dangerous age: 19
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs: 32 out of 50
Failure to obey traffic signs or signals: 46 out of 50
Careless or inattentive driving: 18 out of 50

<a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/galleries/2010/09/22/the-worst-drivers-in-america.html#slide42">http://www.thedailybeast.com/galleries/2010/09/22/the-worst-drivers-in-america.html#slide42</a>;
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Maryland Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan Update

B' Spokes: My reactions to: Maryland Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan Update


Better then what we currently have
Michael [Jackson Director of Bicycle and Pedestrian Access] stated that because MD Route 564 is a State highway SHA was not bound to accept M-NCPPC-PG’s designation [of MD Route 564 as a bikeway.]
Ref SHA not obligated to accommodate bicyclists per policy and wins an award from LAB for policy

Hmm, to make my point how would you feel if they said "The lack of bicycle facilities still a major concern." without mentioning any detail? We need specifics to address motorists behavior like:
  • The Street Smart program must be reviewed by the cycling community.
  • Twice a year (around the beginning and end of the school) at least create a press realise reminding drivers of their duties around bicyclists and pedestrians. Again this should be reviewed by the cycling community before being published.
  • Recommend that local police during this time period do crosswalk stings and plain clothes police bikes enforcing 3' passing.
  • At the end of the enforcement period release a summery of warnings and tickets issued.


Seriously we had this junk since 2002 and it really is not working well for us.
1) 80% of state roads - What if I told you this 80% figure is so they can leave all urban state roads bike unfriendly, would you support that? Of course not, the need for bicycle accommodations is greater in the urban areas then the rural, we need something extra to get accommodations in the urban areas. This figure NEEDS to be 100%! Not that I am unsympathetic to the difficulties of comfortably accommodating bicyclists on all state roads but here is an idea, if they can't accommodate us on a state road then an alternate parallel route shall be established, you know like what they showed in the first picture, this is a doable action. We have the concept of "Bicycle Priority Area" let's use that to get these alternate bike routes in!
2) BLOC D - Another Nooooo! This should be BLOC C or better. BLOC D basically means it looks like there is enough room for cyclists to ride to the right to motorist but cyclists will get too many close passes or other unsafe motorists behavior so cyclists should take the lane under BLOC D conditions. In short it's not clear where the safest place to ride is under these conditions. Seriously, give me BLOC C or BLOC F anything but making BLOC D a target goal for bicycle "friendless."
3) SHA and bike lanes - SHA has been basically turning shoulders into bike lanes, not that this is a bad thing but it really does nothing of significance to improve biking conditions. That's why BLOC is so important, if a decently engineered bike lane gets added to a roadway the BLOC will be C or better.
4) We had this junk since 2002 and basically no change in BLOC C or better roads, we need something better this time around!
5) Do I really need to go into debunking "this plan can only be about achievable goals"? That's what the CTP is all about, this document is about guiding planners what to put into the CTP.

Goal #3: Balance User Needs
Planning will consider walking and biking in all projects
While this sounds nice, I've been given the impression that this does NOT include road resurfacing projects. That's right, the method that the rest of the country uses to include bike facilities in the most economical way has been excluded by SHA. We need to make sure that we are included for consideration even on road resurfacing projects.
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Streets, cars, pedestrians, accidents: streets as anti-social spaces

[B' Spokes: I'll note at one time Montgomery County was good at doing pedestrian crosswalk stings and now this? What the heck happened?]
By Richard Layman, Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

Montgomery County's Action Committee on Transit released a brief press release yesterday, because there were 3 accidents involving 5 pedestrians all before 9am yesterday morning:

What Will It Take for the Montgomery County Police To Tell Drivers To Obey the Law?

Five pedestrians were struck by drivers in three Montgomery County incidents yesterday (Tuesday) morning before 9:00 am. All three collisions occurred where the pedestrians had the right of way.

Yet county police responded with a press release entitled &quot;Police Remind Pedestrians To Be Careful.&quot; Nowhere did the police tell drivers to obey the law, which requires drivers to yield to pedestrians on sidewalks and in marked and unmarked crosswalks.

The three incidents:

- A mother and her two children were struck on the sidewalk at Gaithersburg Elementary School.
- A pedestrian was struck crossing Wisconsin Avenue in an unmarked crosswalk at Chelsea Lane in Bethesda.
- A Watkins Mill high school student was struck in a marked crosswalk on the way to school.

<a href="http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2013/03/streets-cars-pedestrians-accidents.html">http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2013/03/streets-cars-pedestrians-accidents.html</a>;
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Maryland woman gets ticket for driving 2 mph under speed limit

&quot;The reason [the ticket] is silly is because it's sending the wrong message,&quot; said John Townsend of AAA Mid-Atlantic. &quot;And that is, 'We will tolerate you driving at more than the speed limit, but it you drive below the speed limit, then you're penalized for that.'&quot;

<a href="http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/woman-gets-ticket-driving-2-miles-per-hour-211957738.html">http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/woman-gets-ticket-driving-2-miles-per-hour-211957738.html</a>;
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Support Transportation Funding to Bring Better Bicycling to Maryland

WABA Action Alert

Dear Supporter,

You may have heard that Maryland’s General Assembly is considering an increase in gas taxes and transit fares to better fund the state's transportation needs (SB1054/HB1515).

An increase in transportation revenue is critical to improving mobility in Maryland and improving bicycling infrastructure, public transit, and the quality of roads in the state. In some cases, the presence or absence of new funding will make or break the future of key projects, such as the Purple Line (which directly affects the state of the Capital Crescent Trail), the improvements to Route 1 through College Park, and many others.

CLICK HERE to support funding for transportation projects & priorities.

Fixing deteriorating roads, sidewalks, and bridges can alleviate unsafe, bumpy rides and give cyclists better areas to navigate. The benefits of investing in a multi-modally connected region that gives its residents transportation choices, including the choice to bike safely, cannot be overstated.

This is especially critical this year, as the federal government has cut dedicated funding for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, meaning that the state must pick up the slack. Fortunately, the Governor and leaders in the General Assembly want to do that, but many legislators need to be persuaded that voters are willing pay their share.  Thus, it is important that they hear from cyclists and others who understand the need for transportation funding and are willing to support the proposed increases in gas and transit costs for the greater good of keeping Maryland's transportation network working.

Please CLICK HERE to email your legislators to tell them to support SB1054/HB1515 to improve transportation for all who travel in Maryland, including those of us who bike.

Many thanks,


WABA Website | Events | Maps | Rules of the Road | Take Action | Membership
Facebook | Twitter | Flickr | Quick Release: The WABA Blog

Washington Area Bicyclist Association
2599 Ontario Rd. NW, Washington, DC 20009
waba @ waba.org | Phone: 202.518.0524 | Fax: 202.518.0936

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The Law of Unintended Consequences in Government Regulations: Example Transportation

By Klaus Philipsen, Community Architect

ISTEA was the landmark legislation that tried to put transportation planning and funding on a much sounder footing:
  • It recognized that transportation policy should be more about moving people and less about moving cars. To this end it stressed that it was supposed to be "mode blind" and "intermodal". 
  • It recognized that there can be efficient and inefficient ways to move people and so it stressed efficiency. 
  • It recognized that traffic doesn't know jurisdictional boundaries and needs to be approached regionally. So the law required Metropolitan Planning organizations (MPOs). 
  • The law tried to eradicate unwarranted "wish list" projects by requiring "Major Investment Studies".
  • The law understood that car focused transportation has environmental impacts and mandated linkage to the Clean Air Act. It required transportation projects to show that they did not worsen air quality in "non-attainment areas" or they couldn't be funded.  
  • One of the most enlightened elements of the law was the objective to address not only the supply of transportation infrastructure but also the demand by requiring "demand management" strategies  
  • One of the most effective demand reduction strategies is a change in land use patterns and ISTEA clearly highlighted the link between land use and transportation.
  • Finally, the Act recognized that outcomes need to be measures and included specific metrics to do that, for example VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled).
In short, the law was a dream for fiscal conservatives and for enlightened planners alike: To the former for its aspirations towards efficiency, to the latter for the goal of solving transportation, air quality and land use problems rather than just building stuff. But, with so many good intentions, one can easily guess that not all went by the plan. Reality took a different route.(For Robert Fuentes' of Brookings assessment of ISTEA read here).

I remember ISTEA well. I had just been appointed to a Maryland State Planning Commission Committee (resulting from the 1992 Maryland Growth and Resource Protection Act, an early smart growth legislation). At the same time, highly motivated by the new law I started consulting with the Baltimore Metropolitan Council (BMC) which was the newly anointed regional MPO. I co-authored a manual for public involvement under ISTEA.  Most interesting, though, was a pilot project in which the six member jurisdictions of the MPO dealt with the land use-transportation nexus: They modeled the impacts land use changes would have on transportation performance.

I soon learned first hand that provincial interest in project funding would easily trump any effort of finding a rational planning approach. Carroll County, for example, found it much more important to get its own freeway ("we are the only county in the MPO that doesn't have one") than protecting its open spaces from development. The other counties with rural areas, Anne Arundel County, Harford County and even Howard County were not very enthusiastic about shifting growth towards existing infrastructure either. When the modeling study clearly showed that 10% growth reallocation made traffic perform better than the billions of anticipated transportation projects, the pilot project became a hot potato. Chairman Stoney Frailey had to promise the participating counties that this study result would not become public. And so it happened, the study was terminated and remained unpublished.

With the intent of ISTEA in plain view "work-arounds" and "pseudo compliance" began to proliferate. What surprise, then, that in spite of ISTEA and all the following transportation bills since then, the reality of how transport projects come about remained the same to this day: In Maryland a "road tour" organized by the State Highway Administration (SHA) in which local politicians and administrators tell the agency which projects they want.  And precisely those projects wind up in the Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP). Non attainment? No problem, the region will get waivers and extensions. Major investment study? Sure, it will show how well the dream project will perform. Intermodal? Efficient? Conforming with equity and social justice? Paper after paper will be written. A cottage industry of consultants and administrative employees knows precisely how to provide all the required reports. The projects remained the same, the justifications changed.In this manner Maryland built the Inter County Connector and doubled the lane capacity of I-95 north of Baltimore to name just the two most expensive road projects that a rigorous application of the ISTEA metrics should have prevented. Meanwhile construction for new transit projects such as the Red and Purple Lines remain unfunded.

Maybe Congress should learn from the Disabilities Act when it considers again how it wants to make transportation investments more effective. Mobility and mode choices as civil rights? This isn't as far fetched as it may sound considering that by far more than half of the US population doesn't have access to cars because of age, disability, poverty or choice. Consider that the age pyramid will rapidly increase that portion of the population even further. Consider that fossil fuel is powering almost all of our mobility options. Given that climate change, increased demand and rising cost will make that source less and less desirable, wouldn't it behoove us well to consider better land use that reduces demand for trips? Or a transit option for everyone? Walk and bike options for shorter trips in cities, towns and villages? Or proof that our scarce dollars really improve mobility and have the largest possible benefit?

These questions track the exact issues ISTEA tried to address. As frustrating as it is, we cannot give up on those goals. In spite of the "law of unintended consequences" the alternative, continued waste and inefficiency is not only too frightening, it is beyond our means.

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Bike Symposium News: More Politics than Policy

By Ron Cassie, Baltimore Magazine

The breaking news from the 16th Annual Maryland Bike Symposium was more political than legislative or policy focused.

Del. Jon Cardin (D-Baltimore County), chair of the state’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Caucus and a longtime member of state’s Green Caucus, confirmed what he’s long been openly mulling — that he will be a candidate to become Maryland’s next attorney general in 2014.

Cardin, of course, holds uncle Sen. Ben Cardin’s old seat. Montgomery County state Sen. Brain E. Frosh has previously announced he will run for attorney general in 2014. Current Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler is expected to be a leading contender for governor in 2014, along with Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman.

Coincidentally, Ulman, pictured above (right) with Race Pace Bicycles owner and Bike Maryland board president Alex Obriecht, delivered the keynote address at the symposium, hosted by Bike Maryland, and was received warmly by the bicycling community. Ulman, who initiated the Healthy Howard program to increase access to health care in the county, also created the Howard County Office of Environmental Sustainability and has supported efforts to expand safe bicycling in the county, including the development of the county’s first Bicycle Master Plan.

Legislatively, in terms of bicycling bills, there doesn’t seem to be much moving in Annapolis this session.

<a href="http://www.baltimoremagazine.net/bikeshorts/2013/03/bike-symposium-news-more-politics-than-policy">http://www.baltimoremagazine.net/bikeshorts/2013/03/bike-symposium-news-more-politics-than-policy</a>;
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Don't Pass Me Yet, Bro!

By William Smith, Frederick News Post

Dear Motorist Person,

In your haste the other afternoon to pass me as I was riding my bicycle, you came fairly close to hurting or killing someone. You see, my mom always told me, “Don't start a pass you can't finish.” She was not discussing driving, but the point was well-taken.

You might recall that, at the time you chose to begin your pass, there was a hill just ahead of us that hid the oncoming car from your view, but not mine since I was forty feet in front of you. I imagine that you chose to go completely across into the other lane on this skinny country road in order to provide sufficient room to pass me, which in some circumstances could be quite appropriate and desirable, but not in this case. Your haste to pass me created a situation where, had I not intervened, was going to either

  • cause you to have a head-on collision with the unseen oncoming car (perhaps killing one or both of you)
  • force the oncoming car off the road into the trees (perhaps killing her),
  • lead to you swerving to the right in order to avoid the oncoming vehicle (crashing into and possibly killing me).

I hope you did not mind that I decided to quickly move into the center of the roadway to prevent you from passing me and that my frantic waving and yelling “NO!” did not alarm you to a large degree. Fortunately for all of us, you chose to take my actions seriously and pull back into line behind my bike. Also pleasing was the fact that you then waited ten seconds for me to signal “clear” and wave you on so that you could pass safely. Not as pleasing was the one-finger salute that followed, despite the likely crash that my attentiveness prevented. A “thank-you” would have been more appropriate. I imagine it was the last token of affection displayed when one realizes that he/she has done wrong and needs to proclaim victory and withdraw.



I see this type of situation often enough. With decades of bicycling experience and a fine mirror mounted on my helmet, I can usually spot a potentially dangerous situation brewing and take action in time to avoid the danger. Motorists will unsafely pass bicyclists for various reasons, some of which are: (a) impatience, (b) incompetence, (c) anger, (d) inattention and (e) misjudging the speed of the bicyclist. On every bicycle is a human being such as myself. A motorist's haste to more quickly reach his/her destination does not override the rules of the road, nor the courtesy that we should extend to each other, nor is sufficient reason to put another person's life in danger.

Sometimes I hear the common motorist rant, “He was riding in the middle of the lane!” There is often a reason for this. If the lane is too narrow for a motor vehicle and bicyclist to safely share (think Rosemont Avenue or 7th Street), the bicyclist should move far enough to the left to dissuade the motorist from passing in the same lane. If the bicyclist does not move left, the motorist will be tempted to try to squeeze past the bicyclist, often passing within a few inches, setting up a dangerous situation. In 2012 it became law in Maryland that a motorist must pass a bicyclist with at least three feet of clearance space.

So – please, my motorist friends – be patient and pass safely.

Another situation that a bicyclist must be careful to avoid is called the “right hook.” This is when a motorist passes the bicyclist and then immediately executes a right-hand turn in front of hm/her, causing the bicyclist to (a) get pushed off the road, (b) get crushed underneath a tire or (c) if fortunate, quickly slam on the brakes in order to avoid a collision. To avoid the situation, I will move into the center or center-left of the lane as I approach an intersection where there is a potential for a trailing car to perform a right turn. This persuades the motorist to execute the correct and safe maneuver of remaining behind the bicyclist and turning right behind him/her instead of in front.

The following link shows how these situations can be avoided under the caption “How to Not Get Hit By Cars”: http://www.bicyclesafe.com/ There are ten situations covered here, accompanied by some very good advice on how to ride safely in traffic. Every bicyclist and motorist should read this web page. We would all be safer as a result.

See you out there.  And always listen to your mother.  She also requested that we all use our turn signals.


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