Your voice for bicycling in Maryland Newsletter Donate Become A Member Join
CiviCRMGet InvolvedAdvocacyResourcesEventsNewsAbout menu search
Blog >

Coal Rolling

By - March 1, 2016

This bill is currently working through the House floor with some amendments.

Have you had an issue with coal rolling?

Delegate Lam submitted a bill “Prohibiting a person from causing a diesel-powered motor vehicle to emit excess smoke, soot, or other exhaust emissions onto another person or motor vehicle; and providing for the application of the Act.” This is the anti-coal rolling bill and makes it a violation to blow exhaust emissions onto cyclists (and others).

We are collecting written testimony on this bill. Please send it to me at by Wednesday (3/2) night.

The format should include:

“House Bill 848 – In Support
Hearing Date – March 3, 2016
Mr. Chairman and the Members of the Environment and Transportation Committee:”

Likely many on the committee will not know that this is a thing and will not understand how prevalent of an issue this is for cyclists. Delegate Lam has some video of coal rolling in Maryland, but your personal stories will also help. Please spread throughout your networks as well.

If anyone is available and would like to give oral testimony, please let me know and we will sign you up.

Testimony begins at 1:00 PM and could go until 4:00 PM or later, depending on where we are in the order.

Link to the bill:

Why is Coal Rolling an Issue?

Hopefully, you have not had personal experience with coal rolling. Coal rolling is where a diesel engine dumps fuel into their engine and creates a thick, gritty, black smoke behind them. The ability to do this has a purpose, such as when towing or participating in tractor pulls. However, when done on the road it can blind everyone behind the driver.

Cyclists are a common target of coal rolling, as are pedestrians and hybrid-vehicles. If you have never been coal rolled, believe me, the smoke is an assault on your lungs and stings your eyes. The smoke can be so thick that you cannot see in front of you and you will have to stop until it clears. From a safety standpoint, your vision is obstructed and you are hidden from other drivers.

Here is a video from Mike Lamb, coal rolled while riding in Carroll County. This same red truck coal rolled several other cyclists on that same day, but the police could only talk to her because this practice is still legal in Maryland.

Thank you,


Have you joined Bike Maryland? Your financial commitment sets you out as a constituent who is passionate about better biking in Maryland. Join Today!