Thursday, April 6, 2017

Maryland Legislation 2017

I've recently sent an a record amount of letters to my legislators about both worthwhile and horrendous bills.  Here are some of my top subjects:

I supported these bills:
  • HB0578 - Vehicle Laws - Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons (cross-filed: SB0338)
    • Amendments have jointly been made by Bike Maryland, State Highway Administration and other sponsors to conform to the Federal Highway Administration standards. 
    • Almost all motorists (99%) of drivers adhere to these Beacons and 76% of cyclists and pedestrians understand and use them. Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons save lives.
  • HB0332 - Montgomery County - Maximum Speed Limits Outside Urban Districts MC 23-17
    • This would give Montgomery County the authority to set speed limits as low as 20mph on certain roads outside urban districts.  This will give local engineers another option in their tool bag so they can make certain streets safer.
  • HB0997 - Vehicle Laws - Bicycles, Play Vehicles, and Unicycles - Operation on Sidewalks and in Crosswalks
    • This would allow bicycles to operate lawfully on sidewalks and in crosswalks.     This bill adds legal protections for bicycles that are at the same level as pedestrians when using sidewalks and crosswalks.
  • HB0011 - Vehicle Laws - Causing Diesel Emissions to Discharge Onto Another - Prohibition
    • Intentional emissions of diesel exhaust is a menace to cyclists, runners, and drivers. I've personally had a truck do this while driving in Montgomery County.  This dangerous practice should be prohibited.
    • Video of this action happening to a cyclist:

I do not support these bills:
  • HB1451 - Left Lane Use for Passing
    • This bill only seems to enable and legalize speeding on our roadways. Maryland roadways are severely congested already and even in normal flowing traffic conditions, all lanes must be used, whether passing or not. In order to move all traffic down the road, all lanes must be used. 
    • There are many specifics missing from this bill. We don't know how long is "too long" to say in the left lane. As vehicle speeds vary, even while passing, it may be impossible to always continue passing as someone in the right lane speeds up. Also for left exits, there's no rule about how far in advance of the exit we may enter the left lane. For an area, such as MD-32 and I-95, I generally get in the left lane to go from MD-32 E to I-95 N almost 2 miles in advance knowing that if I wait till I'm only one mile or one-half mile from the exit, it may be backed up and I won't be able to merge into the left lane. On roads like US-29 with stop lights and left turns all along it, there's no reason for people to move out of of the left lane, and doing so would only cause chaos as people are concerned with getting tickets for being caught in the left lane for too long. 
    • This is a dangerous bill to people's safety while traveling our roads. It will encourage speeding and aggressive driving and likely enable more road rage incidents.
  • HB1456 - Vehicle Laws – Passing to the Right – Use of Shoulder
    • This bill makes no mention about the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists using the shoulder in a legal manner.   Even completely focused drivers, not to mention distracted drivers, are rarely verifying the shoulder is clear of these vulnerable users before bolting around a vehicle just to save a second or two of time.   This bill endanger these users of the road and shoulder.   Instead of passing this bill, a future bill to require re-engineering of roadways to allow for proper, safe left-turns while keeping a through lane open and preserving the shoulder and perhaps a protected bike lane would be more appropriate.

I encourage you to contact your legislators and get involved with your community and state level issues.

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