Bicycle Advocacy Summary, May 2016 - Jeffrey H. Marks
The following information is a Summary of Bicycle Advocacy, taken primarily from Bike Maryland's (BM) website, with a few of my comments/observations added.
Annapolis Bicycle Symposium
Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn started off this year's Annapolis Bicycle Symposium with a pleasant surprise. Beginning, July 1, 2016 bicyclists will be allowed to ride cross the Hatem Route 40 Bridge that links Havre de Grace and Perryville! Bicyclists will press a button that triggers a flashing yellow light to alert motorists of the presence of bicyclists on the bridge. It's recommended that cyclists ride in the center of the right hand lane, and a flashing rear light is encouraged. Cyclists will pay the same toll as car drivers pay - $8 roundtrip. Easy Pass is accepted. It's best for large groups to contact the toll authority ahead of time to facilitate toll collection.
There are limitations on the hours when cyclists may cross the bridge, especially on weekdays. On weekends and holidays cyclists may generally cross from dawn to dusk. However, on weekdays, cyclists may only cross between 9am to 3pm. If you plan to do a weekday ride that entails crossing the bridge, please schedule carefully. Also, on holiday weekends there will be additional restrictions on the time cyclists will be allowed to cross. Finally, the bridge is only open to cyclists during the above hours when visibility is over 1,000 feet. Check Bike Maryland's website for details.
Having access to this bridge will not only benefit local cyclists but also provide a key link to the East Coast Bicycle Trail and Memorial Rides to Washington to honor firemen and police officers killed in the 2001 terrorist attacks. While welcoming this positive development, this solution isn't perfect. Some users won't be comfortable using a busy bridge without shoulders (or sidewalk). The ideal solution will be to provide a separate bikeway for cyclists and pedestrians - like the Woodrow Wilson Bridge across the Potomac. To obtain this separate bikeway, cyclists will need to demonstrate need - that large numbers of cyclists are using this bridge. Come July 1st, I encourage BBC members to schedule rides that include cycling across the Susquehanna. If we make a good showing of using the Hatem Bridge, cyclists will be in a better position to have a bikeway included on the Route 301 Potomac River Bridge. Removing these barriers will make Maryland a more bike friendly state and increase bicycle tourism.
Three Foot Passing Law
The current law's effectiveness is reduced by loopholes, (e.g, - not applying when the lane is narrow etc.). With the help of Delegate Lafferty, BM negotiated a compromise amendment that would bring Maryland into alignment with "move over, slow down" for emergency vehicles. This amendment passed the House but didn't make it out of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
Vulnerable Users Law
This law will increase the penalty for seriously injuring or killing a bicyclist or other vulnerable user. This law doesn't require intent to harm. BM is working with delegates and senators to have a bill prepared for 2017. Seven states have this law. Other states include financial penalties, jail time, mandatory motor vehicle safety education, community service, and license suspension.
Noah's Law - Success!
Public outrage from a drunk driver killing Officer Noah during a traffic stop has resulted in legislation being passed that increases penalties and restrictions on drunk drivers, including wider use of ignition interlock devices. This bill passed and was signed into law by Govenor Hogan.
Repeal Mandatory Bike Lane Use
With numerous existing exceptions (debris, left hand turn, rough pavement, passing, hazardous conditions, etc.), this law isn't easily understood by cyclists or law enforcement. Since Maryland is a contributory negligence state, the mandatory bike lane law can be used to deny compensation for cyclists riding outside the bike lane - even if the cyclist has a reasonable argument that an exception applies. Modern bicycle infrastructure, including cycle tracks with a separation barrier (e.g., - parked cars, etc.) isn't adequately addressed with Maryland's mandatory bike lane use law. Unfortunately the House Environment & Transportation Committee voted unfavorably.
Bicycles are now allowed on ALL weekend MARC trains between Baltimore and Washington, DC.
The driver intentionally causes their diesel engine to spit out black particulate matter. This is more of a problem in rural areas. This bill passed House but didn't make it out of Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
Budget includes $700,000 to build a pedestrian - bike bridge over the Patapsco River connecting the Woodstock and McKeldin areas of the Park. This bridge will improve mountain biking and hiking access to this popular park.
Mountain bike access to the Loch Raven watershed has been increased.
Larry's Ride: September 25, 2016
This annual ride, hosted by family members and BM, is in memory of Larry Bensky who was killed while properly riding his bike on Butler Rd in northern Baltimore County. This year's ride will be in northern Baltimore County – starting from Sparks, MD. Register through BM's website www.bikemaryland.org.