By Bruce Cohen - February 6, 2015
The 2015 legislative session is becoming much more active than Bike Maryland originally planned: and that’s a good thing! November’s election results and the tragic loss of Tom Palermo, Andrew Gerard Malizio, and too many others since the end of November have re-energized our cause in making Maryland a safer state to bike. Here’s a quick update of how your membership and donations to Bike Maryland are at work:
1. Strength the 3′ Law – Aside from most drivers not knowing how to legally and safely pass cyclists on the road, the way the current Maryland law is written nullifies its effectiveness. The clause stating (simplified) if there isn’t enough roadway space to pass with a minimum of 3′, you don’t have to. THIS ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH FOR US AND WE’RE FIXING IT! Sponsored by Senator Kathy Klausmeier (8th) and Delegate Steve Lafferty (43A), Bike Maryland supports these bills that remove the exemption and provides additional instruction to drivers to SLOW TO PASS. Similar laws in Maryland exist for emergency vehicles and similar laws for bikes exist in California.
The senate bill will be submitted on Monday with the co-sponsorship of Senators Jamie Raskin (20th), Susan Lee (16th), and Guy Guzzone (13th) as of 4 pm today. Others may still sign on. Next week, Delegate Lafferty’s bill will be circulated for co-sponsors. Please contact your delegates and encourage their sponsorship of this bill. (Contact your delegates via “VOICE MY OPINION” at lower left of this link) Bike Maryland staff and volunteers will be in Annapolis next week to have delegates sign on to the bill. If you’re interested in joining us in Annapolis next week, just send us an email at bikemd (at) bikemd.org
2. Department of Transportation Secretary – As many of you have seen on social media, Mr. Pete Rahn has been nominated as the Secretary for the Department of Transportation (MDOT). Bike Maryland has reached out to our fellow bike advocates in Missouri and New Mexico who have expressed their concerns. Departmental policies in those states were not considered ‘bike friendly.’ Maryland has been on a very positive trajectory with Complete Streets implementation and bikeways funding and we will ensure that those practices continue. While projects like the Red Line and Purple Line are garnering most of the attention with the transportation budget, we’re ensuring that bike improvements will continue. Before yesterday’s MDOT budget report to the Senate Public Safety, Environment and Transportation subcommittee, we had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Rahn. We will have a more in-depth meeting with Mr. Rahn on Monday afternoon.
We are pleased to see that $4.5 million has been allocated to the Bikeways Network Program under the Transportation Secretary’s Office (Page 19). This budget is an increase from years past to account for the construction of the Anacostia Riverwalk.
Support our work to create a more bikeable Maryland by encouraging your state representatives to support a better 3′ law, help Chesapeake BMX recover for a recent burglary, and we’ll see you at the Stop, Swap and Save (aka Westminster Bike Swap) on Sunday.
To easily contact your representatives use the Voice My Opinion button on the bottom left of “About the General Assembly.”