Friday, February 19, 2016

2016 Bicycle Related Legislation for the State of Maryland

Update on Tue 2016-02-23:

Bike Maryland has posted their information about the following three bills and most notably, I feel that their take on the mandatory use bill (HB426) is more in-line with why I support it.   I absolutely agree that the SHA needs to revamp their bike lane standards, as the current 5ft shoulders we are given are nothing more than a death wish along multi-lane, high speed traffic roads.  The roads managed by SHA need proper protected bike lanes even more than most local roads due to the high volumes and high speeds of motor vehicles.   Please take time to write your delegates to support these bills.

Thanks to WABA for keeping me informed of important Maryland State Legislation.  Here's my thoughts and text sent to my legislators with regard to the following bills: HB 214, HB 426SB 302/HB 864.

I changed out the 3rd paragraph a bit to make it a stronger argument.   If you feel these bills are important to you, you should take a few minutes and send email to your legislators.   Easily done at the WABA link above.   

Here's my text sent, mostly written by WABA except for the 3rd paragraph.

I am a Maryland resident who rides a bike. Bicycling access and safety on our roads are key issues for me. I request that you support laws that create a safety culture that keeps people like me and my family, who choose to get around by bike, safe on the roads.

In particular, I ask you to support HB 214, which removes the "narrow lane" exception from the three foot passing law. Most of the roads in Maryland on which a person would want to ride a bicycle are narrower than 14 feet, making the protections of the passing law close to meaningless. This bill would require vehicles to give three feet when passing on all roads, and bring Maryland in line with the 28 other states that have three foot passing laws without self-defeating exceptions.  Here's some additional information from the NCSL.

I also ask you to support HB 426, which would repeal the mandatory use of bicycling infrastructure. Protected bike lanes are a wonderful amenity that encourages folks to ride who might not feel safe doing so otherwise, but it is not prevalent enough to mandate the use of all bike infrastructure in a law.  Many of our so called bike facilities are shoulders with little more than 3 ft and a white line and routinely end abruptly.  Furthermore, they encourage unsafe passing by motor vehicles that do not give 3 ft due to a bike lane being present.      Those who choose to ride bicycles as transportation should not be mandated to ride in this inferior infrastructure until such a time when a complete network of protected/grade separated bicycle infrastructure exists.  

Finally, please support SB 302/HB 864, which creates a cause of action for punitive damages against drunk drivers. Current case law precludes the award of punitive damages to the victim of drunk driving or her family, and we should change that. 

I urge you to support these bills when they leave committee. They will make the roads of Maryland safer for the most vulnerable users. I look forward to following your progress on these issues.

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