One Less Car is YOUR voice for better bicycling, walking and mass transit in Maryland. You may not know this, but a significant percentage of our funding comes from donations. The more you donate the more we can work for safer streets, less car traffic and better transportation choices.
Our very good friends at REI in Timonium have donated a great HALF DOME 4 TENT (list price $250) to us. We'd like YOU to have it! Just make a tax-deductible donation of $50 or more to One Less Car by May 5th, 2008 and you'll be entered to win this very cool prize.
You can make your donation by using our new online system or by sending your check to One Less Car, PO Box 19987, Baltimore, Md. 21211
The winner will be announced in our May email update.
THANKS and GOOD LUCK!
In February we hired Eva Khoury, the former Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator for the City of Baltimore, to be our point person for the Pace Car project. Since then she's been working hard educating people about the Pace Car concept and expanding our ability to make an impact on road safety in Maryland.
But now we need your help to make Community Pace Car a success. If you are interested in any of the following, please contact Eva at email@example.com
* Participating on our Pace Car Advisory Board, or
* Volunteering to help get the word out in your community for an hour or two a week, or
* Gathering your neighbors to sign the Pace Car pledge
* HB 143 - 3 Foot requirement for motorists to pass bicyclists - NO ACTION YET
* HB 373 - Allows state to coordinate transit oriented development projects - PASSED
* HB 667 - Would increase penalties for negligent and reckless motorists - NO ACTION YET
* HB 793 - Would require task force to study possible regional transit authority for Baltimore area - REJECTED IN COMMITTEE
* HB 875 - Would allow Maryland Department of Transportation to grant bicyclists and pedestrians access to state owned bridges, when deemed safe to do so - NO ACTION YET
* HB 1160 Would create a task force to study the effect of "silent" hybrid cars on pedestrians and cyclists - NO ACTION YET
* HB 1185 - Would remove the current farebox recovery - VOTED ON IN COMMITTEE 3/21. WAITING FOR RESULT.
* HB 1471 - Would stop funding of the Intercounty Connector Highway Project
* SB 204 - Allows state to coordinate transit oriented development projects (Senate version of HB 373) - NO ACTION YET
* SB 276 Would create a task force to study the effect of "silent" hybrid cars on pedestrians and cyclists (Senate version of HB 1160)- PASSED
* SB 492 - Would allow Maryland Department of Transportation to grant bicyclists and pedestrians access to state owned bridges, when deemed safe to do so (Senate version of HB 875) - PASSED
* SB 644 Would require task force to study possible regional transit authority for Baltimore area - NO ACTION YET
We've worked so hard on this. But it seems that once again the bill to mandate a 3 foot safe passing distance for bicyclists appears dead.
Why? Here are the apparent concerns among some members of the House Environmental Matters Committee: First, some think the law would be unenforceable (not true - its being enforced with citations in Arizona, Utah, Florida and in the 6 other states with similar laws); Second, motorists might be in violation of the law if they tried passing on a very narrow road; Third, bicyclists may inadvertently drift towards a car while the car is passing, thereby coming too close and making the motorist a de-facto lawbreaker.
We can debate the merits of these arguments against HB 143, but here are the facts:
* 9 States have 3 foot passing laws (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Utah, Arizona, Florida......)
* The Maryland MVA Driver's Handbook states on page 61 "that "when passing a cyclist, allow a minimum of three feet clearance".
* Maryland has some of the highest bike crash numbers in the country.
* Most fatal crashes occur mid-block (i.e. cars passing bikes).
So why can't we have a 3 foot law?
It should be noted that Delegate James Malone, the Vice Chair of the Environmental Matters Committee has personally told OLC that he would support working with the State Highway Administration to ensure that a safety campaign focusing on "giving 3 feet" is instituted. This is a welcome step forward.
Regardless, HB 143 is a good bill and if it does not fly this year, we will be back in 2009.
Do us a favor. Send an email to the co-sponsors of HB 143 and tell them thank you for their support of safe cycling in Maryland:
I've talked about this before. If someone drives negligently in Maryland (lets say they are speeding and fumbling with the radio, eyes off the road, etc. etc.) and they hit and kill you, they are slapped with a $500 fine. Sound fair?
The reason for this is that Maryland applies a very high (and increasingly unusual) standard of "gross negligence" to cases where a person's reckless driving causes the death of another. This means that you have to be driving while intoxicated or practically TRYING to mow someone down before you get anything more than the fine.
Case in point - a Howard County police officer was killed last Summer by a person driving well over the speed limit and this driver's punishment was - you guessed it - $500. Sure, it was an accident. But some accidents are avoidable. And negligent driving is VERY avoidable.
HB 667 would remedy this problem by creating the crime of "Manslaughter by Vehicle". It would give a fine and jail time to someone who kills due to reckless and negligent driving. If passed, it would put Maryland in line with over 30 other states with similar laws.
What we want from you is to contact your members of the House of Delegates and ask them if they know about this legislation and if they would support it. If your delegate is on the House Judiciary Committee that is currently reviewing this bill, please make sure to call or email that person.
This bill has died in committee before, but we have to at least bring more attention to it. Right now its flying under the radar and that's a shame.
Unfortunately, Maryland is a great state for reckless and negligent motorists. Unless you are drunk or drugged - or actually trying to murder someone - its highly unlikely that you would ever pay more than a $500 fine for killing a person with your car.
The reason for this? Maryland applies a very high (and increasingly unusual) standard of "gross negligence" to cases where a person's reckless driving causes the death of another.
HB 667 would remedy this problem by creating the crime of "Manslaughter by Vehicle". It would give a fine and jail time to someone who causes a death as the result of the person's reckless and negligent driving. This bill would put Maryland in line with over thirty other states that have the same law.
Right now HB 667 has the support of a diverse group including the Maryland States Attorneys Association, AAA Mid Atlantic, and the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland. Still, it could languish in the Judiciary Committee if we don't make our voices heard. So, if you live in the areas represented by the Delegates below, PLEASE send them an email or call their office and tell them to support HB 667.
It looks like the legislative alert we sent out last week was a success. I've heard back from quite a few of you who took the time to email and call your legislators. This is great!
So, we've got a little more work for you. The following two bills currently being considered in the House of Delegates will, if passed, greatly improve safety on our roads.
What we want from you is simple. If you live in the district of one of the legislators listed below please give them a call or send them an email telling them that you support these bills. Always remember to include your home address so that the legislator knows that you live in his or her district.
And if you're not sure who your representatives are in the House of Delegates, please check out the state's "Find Your Legislator" site.
Richard Chambers, Executive Director
HB 143 - Bicycle Safety
* Requires that a driver of a motor vehicle, when overtaking a bicycle, not pass at a length of less than 3 feet, and that the driver of a motor vehicle yield the right-of-way to a person who is riding a bicycle in a designated bicycle lane. This bill creates a legal "safe-zone" for bicyclists and gives them an extra added measure of safety on the road.
* First Hearing - House Environmental Matters - Tuesday, Feb. 5th at 1PM
* Read the bill <a href="http://mlis.state.md.us/2008RS/bills/hb/hb0143f.pdf">http://mlis.state.md.us/2008RS/bills/hb/hb0143f.pdf</a>
SB 204 - Makes transit-oriented development a State transportation priority
* Ensures that commercial and residential development adjacent to transit stations is a statewide "transportation priority" and expands MTA's ability to coordinate and further these projects. More transit oriented development means less sprawl and more options for Marylanders who don't want to travel everywhere in their car.
* First hearing - Senate Finance Committee - Wednesday, Feb. 6th at 1PM -
* Read the bill <a href="http://mlis.state.md.us/2008RS/bills/sb/sb0204f.pdf">http://mlis.state.md.us/2008RS/bills/sb/sb0204f.pdf</a>
* This is cross-filed in the House under HB 373
* Read the Baltimore Sun editorial in support of this bill. <a href="http://xml.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/editorial/bal-ed.transit31jan31,0,3701372.story">http://xml.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/editorial/bal-ed.transit31jan31,0,3701372.story</a>
SB 492 - Bicycle and Pedestrian access on MdTA toll facilities
* Removes the state's current total prohibition on bicyclists and pedestrians on Maryland Transportation Authority (MdTA) bridges and tunnels and gives the MdTA the option of allowing access. This means future and current bridges and tunnels may be fitted with bike/ped facilities.
* First Hearing in the Senate - Not scheduled yet
* Read the bill <a href="http://mlis.state.md.us/2008RS/billfile/sb0492.htm">http://mlis.state.md.us/2008RS/billfile/sb0492.htm</a>
We look forward to seeing you there.
Date Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Time 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM Symposium
Location President's Conference Center ,
Miller Senate Office Building in Annapolis .
11 Bladen St.
Annapolis, MD 21401
8:30 AM Registration
9:00 AM John Porcari, Maryland Secretary of Transportation
9:30 AM Stephanie Yanovitz, Acting Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, SHA
10:00 AM Update State Bike Master Plan, Michael Jackson Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, MDOT
10:30 AM Visit your legislators office
11:00 AM Panel Discussion Bicycle Performance Measures (Bob Patten, Toole Design, Dave Whittaker, Maryland Dept. of Planning & Barry Childress, Baltimore Mayor's Bicycle Advisory Committee)
Noon 2008 One Less Car Excellence in Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Awards Ceremony and Pizza Lunch (Del. Jon Cardin will present)
1:00 PM Update on Baltimore City Bicycle Master Plan, Jessica Keller-Watson, BDOT
1:30 PM "Ciclovia in Bogota" video and presentation, Greg Cantori, The Knott Foundation
2:00 PM A Short History of the Bicycle in Maryland, Randy Mardres, Montgomery County Bicycle Action Group
2:30 PM Talk to your legislators