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Bicyclists, government, CA working on making [Howard ] county more bike-friendly

Biking in the Metro Area[B' Spokes: A lot of good momentum is happening in Howard County. What I am quoting can be said about the entire state ]
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"We don't have any kind of local network we can knit together," he said. "We need to be able to establish routes … that get us from the west to the east, from the north to the south, in more of a grid pattern for cyclists."

Read the full article: <a href="http://www.baltimoresun.com/explore/howard/news/community/ph-ho-cf-bikes-1020-20111018,0,475787.story">http://www.baltimoresun.com/explore/howard/news/community/ph-ho-cf-bikes-1020-20111018,0,475787.story</a>;
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Bikes and Baggage Cargo Event

Biking in the Metro Area
Proteus Bicycles
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Bikes and Baggage Cargo Event Proteus Bicycles
Date: Sunday, October 30
Time: 9:30am
Place: Proteus Bicycles
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- Leave your car at home. -


cargo bike
 
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Dig out your backpacks, racks, panniers . . . any safe way you can carry small packages. Discover just how fun and easy it is to do local errands on your bike. We have a fun route all planned out for you. You will go from stop to stop picking up packages and surprises, returning back to the shop for awards and celebrations.

This will be about a 10 mile ride routing you to various public places where one might commonly go on an errand. You will be amazed how fun and quick it can be using your bike instead of your car. Helmets are required and young and/or inexperienced riders should have a riding buddy with them. RSVP is appreciated. Check webpage in case of rain. Hope to see you there.
Sincerely,

Jill DiMauro
Proteus Bicycles
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The death penalty for being in full compliance with the law

Biking in the Metro AreaFrom the Baltimore Sun Bicyclist struck, killed by vehicle in Anne Arundel County

Police said Young was riding on the right lane of the highway, which did not have a shoulder and had little ambient lighting.

Young was wearing dark non-reflective clothing on his bike that had a makeshift headlight, which was on. The bike also had a red LED-flashing light on the back which police say did not appear to have been turned on, leaving one small reflective lens to make Young visible.

Police say the driver did not see Young in the lane in front of him.

Bicyclist visibility and possible driver error appeared to be significant factors in the accident, police said. Alcohol or speed were not suspected.


First our law:

§ 21-1207.(ii) On the rear, with a red reflector of a type approved by the Administration and visible from all distances from 600 feet to 100[0 ??] feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle.

That "one small reflective lens" is our legal requirement and no more is needed to be legal. Are there issues with the national [and local] standards, you bet. And have we tried to change those standards? Again yes but the Consumer Product Safety Commission asserts that this"one small reflective lens" is the "best" standard.

So could a cyclists go to an automotive or hardware store and get a better reflector then one that comes standard on the bike, sure but would that be legal? Technically probably not so if AA Police assertion is valid cyclists are in a legal Catch 22 but more to the point why are we not asserting the Basic Rule for driving on the highway:
§ 21-801. Basic rule

(a) Reasonable and prudent speed required. -- A person may not drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed that, with regard to the actual and potential dangers existing, is more than that which is reasonable and prudent under the conditions.

(b) Driver to control speed. -- At all times, the driver of a vehicle on a highway shall control the speed of the vehicle as necessary to avoid colliding with any person or any vehicle or other conveyance that, in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care, is on or entering the highway.


Drivers CANNOT overrun their headlights, so not seeing the cyclist is a confession of guilt of not driving at a prudent speed for conditions. If the police have a problem with bicycles reflective standards then take it up with Consumer Product Safety Commission in the meantime that is what is legal and we are not at fault for not exceeding what the law requires.

If you are concerned contact:
Col. James E. Teare, Sr., Chief (410) 222-8500
8495 Veterans Highway, Millersville, MD 21108
e-mail: jteare@aacounty.org
Washcycles coverage:

A cyclist - 40 year old Matthew Young - riding on Veterans Highway in Severna Park on Friday night (7:30pm) was hit from behind and killed. "Investigators do not believe that either speed or alcohol were factors in the crash. They have cited "bicyclist visibility" as the apparent cause of the accident, and noted the fact that the accident occurred at a particularly dark location on Veterans Highway, as well as the fact that Young was wearing dark non-reflective clothing." There's a pretty wide shoulder there. Was the cyclist on it? More here: "Police said the bike he was riding had a makeshift headlight, but a flashing light on the back of the bike does not appear to have been on." Can they tell after a bike has been hit from behind? Maybe they have witness testimony?
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Columbia Association - Active Transportation Task Force Application

Biking in the Metro AreaCA seeks individuals to serve on a task force to provide guidance to CA as it develops a Columbia Active Transportation Action Agenda — a project to create a more interconnected bicycling and walking circulation system. Deadline to apply is Oct. 25, 2011

<a href="http://www.issuu.com/ca-columbiaassociation/docs/ca-activetransportationtaskforce">http://www.issuu.com/ca-columbiaassociation/docs/ca-activetransportationtaskforce</a>;
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Alert: Demand more for bike/ped

Biking in the Metro Area
This is where we are:
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This is what they are planning to do about it:
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The highest count of pedestrian fatalities are in:
  • Prince Georges County
  • Baltimore County
  • Baltimore City
  • Anne Arundel County
(Baltimore Metro Area is a major issue.)

Not even 1% of the road budget... And this is supposed to help with 22.7% of Maryland's traffic fatalities that are bike/ped???

So your comments are needed to get that increased to 2.3% to be spent for bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements (10% of our traffic fatalities percentage.) Bike/ped crashes don't happen because of the lack of trails but because of poor design of the roads. Don't get me wrong, I like trails and trails can help some but how many have died crossing Ritchie Highway going from the B&A Trail to their homes? Trails are not complete unless there is an on-road component connecting them to the areas they serve. We cannot afford to neglect on-road accommodations any longer.

Remember the three big counties in the Baltimore metro area I mentioned earlier? This is what spending looks like for each of them:
Baltimore County$14,860,000 (mostly trails, $120,000 on-road)
Baltimore City$18,100,000 (all trails)
Anne Arundel County $0


This has never been done before but I for one am sick of the on-road portion of Baltimore County's Bike Master Plan mostly just sitting there while they plan for faster car travel on mostly car centric roads. And there are thousand of locations throughout the metro area that need some improvement for the safety of bicyclists and/or pedestrians. Attention to this issue has to begins somewhere, so it begins here.

We have a right to have our projects main streamed just like other transportation projects so Baltimore Counties, Annapolis and Columbia Bike Master Plans should be in the long range plans.

So the ASK is this, write to:

Baltimore Regional Transportation Board
Offices @ McHenry Row
1500 Whetstone Way, Suite 1500
Baltimore, MD 21230
Fax: 410-732-8248

E-mail: comments@baltometro.org
Web: www.baltometro.org/bboard

All comments must be received by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, October 21, 2011.


-- AND ---

Your state delegate and representatives and ask that more be done for bicycle and pedestrian safety then just ticketing j-walkers. Mention something (and location) that you think will help; sidewalks free of obstacles; ped buttons that actually work; even basic sidewalks and ped signals are needed in too many locations; crosswalks that actually look like crosswalks rather then fickle stop bars; bike lanes; bikeable shoulders; sharrows; Bikes May use Full Lane signage; bike friendly storm grates; traffic calming; ...

Other states are making a dent in their pedestrian fatality rate while Maryland's ranking keeps going up and up (click the top picture and you will be taken to site where you can change the date and see for yourself.) Other states are building bike lanes and strongly enforcing pedestrian safety. Here... well... We have a law that says " Ensure that there is an appropriate balance between funding for ... projects with facilities for pedestrians and bicycle riders." (full text after the "fold") and less then 1% is a appropriate funding level for an area with a high pedestrian fatality rate, with projects that don't really address pedestrian fatality rates or Maryland's low bicycling modal share??


Be sure to include your name and address. And the target of 2.3% of the transportation budget, it's more then just a fair request.

Plan It 2035 website
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No answers in surge of hit-and-run incidents

Biking in the Metro AreaVictims and their families don't understand how someone could drive away
By SCOTT DAUGHERTY, Staff Writer - Hometown Annapolis.

image Courtesy photo
County police have released this surveillance photo of the vehicle in the Aug. 24 hit-and-run incident that killed James Schreiber Jr., 38, of Pasadena. It is believed the vehicle had a temporary, dealer or transporter tag attached to the left side of the rear tailgate just below the rear window.

Manuel Minchev doesn't remember how his right arm came to be in a sling.

One minute he was riding his bike in Annapolis with two friends. The next he was in a Baltimore hospital bed with a broken clavicle.

"It was strange," recalled the Bulgarian college student who came to Maryland earlier this year to work as a lifeguard. "I asked myself, 'What am I doing here?' "

What Minchev learned - like a startling number of other county residents in the past few months - was that he had been a hit-and-run victim. The motorist who knocked the 20-year-old off his bicycle Aug. 23 on Forest Drive didn't stop to offer help or even see if he was OK.

Local police departments acknowledged a recent uptick in such incidents in the past three months.

There have been two fatal hit-and-runs in Anne Arundel County since July 14 - plus at least four crashes that resulted in serious injuries.

"This is definitely an anomaly this year," said Sgt. Brent Weaver, one of eight officers tasked with investigating fatal and other serious traffic accidents for the county Police Department. "It is an unusual event, definitely."

Police can't pinpoint a reason behind the recent surge. Detectives hypothesize it might be the bad economy prompting more people to drive without insurance or without proper registration.

Exact statistics on how many hit-and-run wrecks happen a year in Anne Arundel County are not readily available. Computerized records maintained by the county Police Department regarding fatal wrecks were significantly different from paper records maintained by the department's Traffic Safety unit. The disparities draw into question the accuracy of the department's other computerized records for personal injury hit-and-run crashes, which showed about 90 each of the past four years.

Accident investigators and prosecutors said they have no reason to believe the recent rash will continue.

"It's too soon to call it a trend," said Deputy State's Attorney William Roessler, who prosecutes the bulk of the county's automobile manslaughter cases. "I'm hoping this is just an unusual coincidence. Hopefully we won't see this next year."

'Why did it happen?'

For those injured in hit-and-runs - or left to carry on after the death of a loved one - the question is less "why so many?" and more "why did this happen?" They don't understand how anyone could drive away from an injured person.

"This is all very foreign to me," said Jenna Schreiber, whose husband, James, was killed Aug. 24 while he prepared to tow a vehicle from the side of Route 100 near Oakwood Road in Pasadena. "It is just deplorable. I simply do not understand it. I cannot perceive the mentality it takes (to drive away)."

There is no easy answer to explain why people flee the scene of the wrecks they were involved in, police, attorneys and psychologists said.

Some are simply in shock and don't realize what they have done until they are a mile or two down the road. Others panic because they are drunk or driving without a license.

In general, experts dismiss the "I thought I hit a deer" excuse voiced by many people eventually arrested for hit-and-run wrecks.

"It's case by case, but it's mostly crap," said Dr. Thomas Dalby, an adjunct professor at the University of Calgary who co-wrote a scholarly article in 2008 about the psychology of hit-and-run. "If you hit a deer, wouldn't you still stop? Wouldn't you see if it's all right? Wouldn't you see if your vehicle was all right?"

Police understand how unanswered questions can gnaw at victims and their families. With the help of witnesses, officers work hard to give them answers - tracking down security video from around the accident scene, visiting dealerships to identify vehicle parts left behind and contacting repair shops to see if any suspicious jobs roll up to their doors.

"Sometimes it is very difficult. We sometimes have nothing to go on," Weaver said. "It really helps if we have eyewitness testimony ... they are key. It is a cooperative effort between us and them."

Troubling stats

Since Jan. 1, 2008, there have been nine fatal hit-and-run crashes in the county - resulting in the deaths of 10 people. Seven of the dead were pedestrians, two were riding a motorcycle and one was riding a bicycle.

Detectives with the county and state police departments have been able to solve about half those cases.

Of the seven fatal crashes that occurred before July 12 of this year, police located four drivers.

"We have a pretty good closure rate, believe it or not," Weaver said.

But both of the county's most recent fatal hit-and-runs - and three of the county's four recent serious injury hit-and-runs - remain unsolved.

Punishment varies

Prosecutors and defense attorneys contacted by The Capital last week urged drivers involved in hit-and-run crashes to turn themselves in to police.

While simply leaving the scene of a fatal accident carries the same maximum sentence as automobile manslaughter, judges usually go easier on motorists who surrender, they said.

"There is no good-case scenario ... (but) I think you get some benefit if you own up to it," said Ted Staples, a prominent Annapolis attorney who has represented several clients in hit-and-run cases.

He advised against staying quiet, because police will never give up.

"They are going to come find you," he said, arguing the best bet is to contact an attorney and arrange to give a statement. "It may take awhile, but they will find you."

If police can link a driver to a fatal hit-and-run crash, that does not mean he or she will receive a significant jail sentence.

In June, Thomas Leonard Judge III, 22, of Annapolis Cove outside Annapolis, received a probation before judgement for the Jan. 1, 2010, death of a man killed while walking across Bay Ridge Road near Edgewood Road.

Judge turned himself in to police the next day and prosecutors allowed him to plead guilty to a reduced charge of failing to render aid to the victim as part of a plea agreement. He was placed on one year of unsupervised probation and ordered to complete 50 hours of community service.

About a year earlier, though, Matthew Evan Norwood, 27, of Linthicum, received one of the longest sentences ever handed down in the county in an automobile manslaughter case. After pleading guilty in the Aug. 22, 2009, hit-and-run death of a woman walking to church in Glen Burnie, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison with three years suspended.

Roessler, the prosecutor, said each case is different.

He noted Norwood went to court with a criminal record and an "egregious" set of facts that placed him at fault in the woman's death. Judge, however, had no record and turned himself in to police. He added that Judge probably wouldn't have been charged with any crime if he had stayed at the scene. The victim in that case was intoxicated and crossing the street at night outside a crosswalk.

"Sometimes they are driving away from an automobile manslaughter and sometimes they are not," Roessler said. "That's going to be a big difference (at sentencing.)"

'Someone knows'

In interviews over the past month, several hit-and-run victims and the family members of those who were killed asked the public to help them gain some closure. Someone, they said, helped repair the damage or heard a friend's confession.

"If anyone knows anything, they shouldn't be silent. They should do the right thing," said Ziad Sabra, whose brother, Ghassen, was killed 15 months ago on Route 50 while checking on traffic-counting equipment.

"We need someone from the public to come forward and point us in the right direction," added Jenna Schreiber. "Someone knows what happened."

Until someone comes forward in his case, Minchev - who is preparing to return home to Bulgaria in a few weeks - can only wait and wonder who was responsible.

"I can't believe this happened to me," said the rising junior at the University of Ruse in Bulgaria. "I can't do nothing with my right hand and he is at home. Maybe drinking a beer. Maybe watching TV."

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Anne Arundel police target pedestrian, bicycle safety in wake of fatal crashes

Biking in the Metro Area[B' Spokes: This article seems fairly well balanced. I could criticize some elements but at least they cover issues beyond the j-walking pedestrian. Also, please note they are still looking for two hit-and-run drivers (inf at the end of the article.)]
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By Andrea F. Siegel, The Baltimore Sun

With eight pedestrians and one bicyclist killed by motor vehicles this year in Anne Arundel County, police are tackling the issue with a special operation in the eastern area of the county, where four pedestrians were killed.

&quot;The goal is education and enforcement, but mostly education,&quot; said Justin Mulcahy, police spokesman.

Officers will stop motorists, pedestrians and cyclists they see violating the rules of the road, he said. That includes drivers ignoring bicycle lanes and pedestrians who jaywalk. Officers will mostly give warnings but will be writing citations as well.

County police said they are focusing — but not exclusively — on roads where vehicles have struck pedestrians and bicyclists. Targeted areas include Hospital Drive near Crain Highway in Glen Burnie and Fort Smallwood Road in Pasadena as far north as the Baltimore City line. Other roads getting special attention include Jumpers Hole Road and Ritchie Highway, police said.

Police have not seen a pattern to the incidents in which people on foot or on bicycles were killed or injured, Mulcahy said. But the overall number of hit-and-runs seems to be on the rise, he said.

Of the nine incidents, five remain under investigation, one resulted in a driver pleading guilty to failing to stay at the accident scene, and three were closed with no charges against the drivers, said Deputy State's Attorney William Roessler.

State Highway Administration officials, who compile crash statistics, say drivers are at fault in about half the accidents involving pedestrians statewide, and the number of fatal incidents is worrisome.

&quot;For the last several years, we have seen a decrease in total traffic fatalities. But what concerns us is that we have not seen the same decrease for pedestrian fatalities,&quot; said Peter Moe, the agency's pedestrian traffic safety coordinator.

The hit-and-runs are especially troubling, Moe said, because fleeing drivers &quot;may be able to render aid to that pedestrian and keep them alive.&quot;

Many police departments regularly ratchet up education and enforcement for pedestrians and bicyclists around the beginning and end of the school year, sometimes as part of State Highway Administration programs.

They also target specific locations after an increased number of crashes and complaints from the community.

Baltimore County police did that last week along Liberty Road, from Old Court Road to the Baltimore city line, said Detective Cathleen Batton.

She said Baltimore County has had five pedestrian fatalities this year. In one, police determined that the driver was not at fault, though she was charged with alcohol-related offenses. No charges have been filed in the other incidents, she said.

Anne Arundel County has seen a slight increase in the number of pedestrians killed from 2006 to 2010. There were nine in 2006, 13 in 2009 and 12 in 2010, according to the State Highway Administration.

The number of pedestrians injured in the county was 197 each in 2006 and 2010.

The number of fatal crashes in the county involving a bicycle during that period was one in 2006 with one more in 2009, but there were none in 2007, 2008 or 2010. The total number of cyclists hurt dropped from 71 to 54 during that five-year period.

Anne Arundel police are still trying to track down drivers in two fatal hit-and-run incidents that occurred this summer.

About 8 a.m. July 14, bicyclist Alex Canales Hernandez of Brooklyn was struck by a car while trying to cross the northbound lanes of Ritchie Highway near Bon Air Avenue in Brooklyn Park. Police suspect he might have been hit by a dark maroon sport utility vehicle spotted in a surveillance video. The SUV went into the parking lot at 5801 Ritchie Highway and was last seen eastbound on Walton Avenue. Police think the vehicle would have had damage to the front passenger side and that the driver may have been a black woman wearing pink medical scrubs.

Anne Arundel County police are also looking for the driver whose vehicle struck James Frederick Schreiber Jr. of Pasadena about 8 a.m. Aug 24 on Route 100 near the Oakwood Road exit in Glen Burnie. Police said Schreiber, a tow truck driver, was preparing to tow a disabled sewage truck when he was struck, probably by a 1987 to 1995 Nissan Pathfinder, possibly red.

Police described the driver as a thin white man in his 30s with a crew cut or short brown hair. Police suspect the Nissan sustained extensive damage to the passenger side front fender and lights, and that it may be missing a hubcap and have a broken passenger side mirror.
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Is AA cracking down on cyclists and letting speeding motorists off the hook?

Biking in the Metro AreaI saw this posted on Facebook: &quot;Passed two AA County bike police, again, radar gun in hand, presumably ticketing speeding bicyclists on the trail. What about speeding motorists? More of them then us.&quot;

If you have been ticketed please let us know.

I'll note the data I have (from 2006) shows Anne Arundel County being very lax in giving motorist speeding tickets unless they are going 20 mph over the speed limit, I wounder if they'll do the same for cyclists?

It's also worth noting that comparing the last crash data publicly available; bike crashes are down from 88 to 80 while car crashes are up from 8427 to 8995. I certainly hope AA is cracking down on drivers with equal vigor.
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Metro Baltimore near worst on bad air days

Biking in the Metro Areaby Frank Roylance - Baltimore Sun

On a list of 252 locations in 40 states, ranked nationally by the number of Code Orange Air Quality days so far this year, the Baltimore Metropolitan area comes in with a dismal rank of 17. Only Atlanta, Ga. and 15 places in California did worse. Code Orange means that air pollution levels are considered dangerous for children and other sensitive groups.
...

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[B' Spokes: I feel it is important to note the days before Code Orange are really nice biking days but instead people drive and then the heat cooks the auto exhaust and the result is Code Orange.

We all know the reason why more people are not biking... the lack of accommodations. Even more startling is there are federal funds for &quot;Congestion Management and Air Quality&quot; which most metropolitan areas spend on bicycle accommodations but Baltimore Metro spends zero, a big fat nata on bicycle accommodations from this fund. We can save this planet, if they would only put to good use what they are given and let us do what we do best, transportation with no pollution.]
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Annapolis Police looking for a driver who hit a cyclist and left the scene

Biking in the Metro AreaANNAPOLIS, Md. - Annapolis Police are looking for the driver of a van that hit a bicyclist Tuesday night and left the scene.

According to police, the bicyclist was riding west on Forest Drive near Youngs Farm Road when he was hit from behind by a dark colored van.
The cyclist was flown to Maryland Shock Trauma for treatment.

The van is described as a mini van, dark in color, with a white taxi cab light on top, missing a passenger side mirror, and will have severe damage to the front of the van.

Anyone who has any information about the van or the driver is asked to call Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7LOCKUP.


<a href="http://www.abc2news.com/dpp/news/crime_checker/anne_arundel_crime/annapolis-police-looking-for-a-driver-who-hit-a-cyclist-and-left-the-scene">http://www.abc2news.com/dpp/news/crime_checker/anne_arundel_crime/annapolis-police-looking-for-a-driver-who-hit-a-cyclist-and-left-the-scene</a>;

Additional info: Officials said the cyclist was in stable condition, but no further information is available at this time.

<a href="http://historicannapolis.patch.com/articles/city-police-seek-information-following-hit-and-run">http://historicannapolis.patch.com/articles/city-police-seek-information-following-hit-and-run</a>;

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