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Maryland Bicycle Safety Task Force – Fourth Meeting

By - November 1, 2017

Instead of giving a summation of the meeting as I have for previous meetings I am instead going to list out an unedited copy of the 30+ recommendations that were presented by the advocates on the task force. Clearly, some of these are more critical than others.

The task force did not discuss all of these recommendations at this meeting but they did discuss most of them. A couple of the recommendations were adopted without much fanfare and one or two were more or less rejected. Most of them, however, came face to face with the threat of consensus-based watering down (to the point of being basically meaningless) or government worker soft peddling. In other words arguments like “I’ll need to check with others to see if this is something we could agree to” or “that’s not really how things really happen so we shouldn’t do recommend that” tabled (potentially indefinitely) real consideration of a recommendation.

Of course, we knew that there would be disagreements and issues that would divide the task force. If the Task Force continues on a path whereby all recommendations must be worded in a way that everyone approves then it seems to us that the task force will fail in its mission. Rather, a better course of action (and one the advocates are pushing) is that recommendations are made, there is a healthy discussion/debate and the group decides whether or not to include the recommendation. Then, all recommendations can be listed with the specific objections raised (also they should include recommendations considered and voted against with both pros and cons listed for them as well).

We will keep you posted, as always, on what approach the task force ultimately takes.

Next meeting is November 9, 1:00-3:30 @ the SHA Hanover Complex


Advocate Recommendations:

I.  Safety issues and operations of bicycles and motor vehicles on highways in the State

  1. The State should adopt a Vision Zero Commitment for Maryland to end all traffic deaths within 10-15 years.
  2. The legislature should consider passage of a safe yielding law for bicyclists (Delaware version — http://www.bikede.org/bfda/safe-yielding/ or Idaho Stop Law)
  3. The legislature should consider passing a law which would eliminate the narrow road exception in the 3 foot passing law.
  4. The legislature should consider passage of a Vulnerable Road User law (http://bikeleague.org/content/model-vulnerable-road-user-law).
  5. Create a process for Bicycle Safety Audits (similar to audits for motorized safety audits) in order to improve safety especially in higher risk areas.

II.  Adequacy of infrastructure and issues related to traffic control device

  1. The legislature should consider removing prohibitions on safety cameras on state highways to allow their use on any state highway at any time where speed enforcement is needed (not just in school zones and work zones)
  2. SHA should allow bicycle-specific traffic signals on or crossing state roads. This would mandate a reevaluation of the threshold standards SHA employs when reviewing implementation of bicycle and pedestrian signals.In addition, SHA should allow greater flexibility for signal warrants and other improvements when evaluating trail crossings of State roads and for traffic on State roads where there is a strong safety argument for bike signals or other bike improvements but the traffic signal does not meet traffic ‘warrants’.
  3. MDOT and all its sub-agencies should be required to adhere to SHA’s complete streets policy for any roadway or facility design.

III.  Policy implementation and public education

  1. The legislature should consider passing a law which would end contributory negligence as the standard for crashes involving motor vehicles and vulnerable road users and move to a Comparative Negligence standard as DC has done recently.
  2. The legislature should fund universal bike education in public schools (as the DC Public Schools does for all 2nd Graders).
  3. The legislature should consider allowance of lower speed limits on all roads (15 mph on local roads, 55 mphs on State Highways), including a mechanism for a county or municipality to set a lower default speed limit.
  4. SHA should set a new higher mode share goal for bicycles on State roads including benchmarks against other states.
  5. The State should provide safe passing education and testing for drivers as it relates to vulnerable road users (including, but not limited to, that drivers should give 3 feet, not enter oncoming lane without adequate sight distance, that it’s ok for drivers to wait for a safe passing opportunity, and that bicyclists have a right to be in the road).
  6. State and local law enforcement agencies should incorporate curriculum on the rights and responsibilities of vulnerable road users into training of law enforcement personnel.
  7. SHA should utilize modeling software that assesses and prioritizes multimodal transportation options in its planning processes.
  8. State and local law enforcement agencies should increase officer hours devoted to enforcement of speeding, distracted, impaired, and aggressive driving.
  9. State and local law enforcement agencies should accept video submissions for evidence of dangerous driving.
  10. SHA should place a trained bicycle planner in every District Office of SHA and mandate baseline annual training on bike planning and related issues for all SHA planners.

IV.  Funding to support/encourage the safe operation of bicycles in the State

  1. Legislature should consider reversing prohibition on SHA paying for maintenance of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure within State Road right-of-way but outside the roadway (Title 2 § 8-630) so that the State can pay for maintenance of sidewalks, trails, and protected bike lanes.
  2. In partnership with a local municipality or county, SHA should initiate in the next year 5 pilot projects on state roads to test the maintenance needs and practices for various configurations of protected bike lanes allowing flexibility for the State and local jurisdictions to pay for maintenance of the facility built.
  3. The legislature should expand funding for the Bicycle Pedestrian Priority Program (BPPA), as well as Bicycle & trail programs which will promote establishment of new BPPA areas, including in areas which provide walkable and bikeable access to transit.
  4. Expand funding for the Bicycle Retrofit and Sidewalk Retrofit programs to better support local jurisdictions in completing their bicycle networks using state right of way.
  5. Provide funding for completion of connected trail networks in the state, such as the Capital Trails Coalition regional trail network in the Washington Metropolitan Region, Baltimore Greenways Network, Patapsco Greenway Network, and other emerging trail networks.
  6. The State should increase funding for multimodal access to transit by retrofitting bike cars and adding bike racks to MARC trains so that in three years a passenger can reliably bring a full-size bicycle on any train in service on any line, and by increasing funding for high capacity bike parking around transit
  7. The State should consider a “fee in leiu” policy and improve state and local collaboration to ensure that bicycle infrastructure is added where it is needed most.
  8. Dedicate specific funding streams or percentages of transportation budgets to the creation of safe, low-stress bicycle facilities, including bicycle-only projects, not just add-ons to road projects.

V.  Bicycle infrastructure design, siting, and best practices

  1. SHA should update its design guidelines to be on-par with MassDOT’s Separated Bicycle Planning and Design Guide, Montgomery County Planning Department’s bikeway Facility Design Guide, the NACTO Urban Street Design Guide, ITE Protected Bikeways Practitioners Guide, and FHWA Separated Bike Lane Planning and Design Guide to include tighter roadway geometry, protected bike lanes, and intersection treatments that prioritize vulnerable user safety.
  2. SHA should explicitly allow and encourage the installation of single direction and bidirectional protected bike lanes on State Highways.
  3. SHA should establish design guidelines for “main streets” on state highways that prioritize safe and low-stress bicycling and walkability over motor vehicle speed.
  4. SHA should remove it’s exemption process for bicycle infrastructure on state highways. This policy allows for sharrows and “bikes may use full lane” signs on state highways which are not advisable whatsoever as they do not provide safe facilities for bicycles.
  5. SHA should adopt 10 foot travel lanes as the default on roadways in urban areas to reduce speeding (as is done in Montgomery County).
  6. Institute a comprehensive bicycle route signage system for wayfinding on state and local roads.

VI.  Data Issues

  1. Legislature should identify MDOT as the primary keeper of data for traffic crashes, injuries/fatalities, and citations and that MDOT should maintain an open database.
  2. SHA should implement a statewide counting program of biking and walking on state roads including placement of automated counters, user surveys, and crowdsourced data.