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Maryland Bike Safety Task Force

By - August 30, 2017

Tomorrow will be the first meeting of the Maryland Bicycle Safety Task Force, and Bike Maryland will be there every step of the way.  Bike Maryland advocated strongly for the creation of this task force (one of three initiatives we successfully pushed for in the last legislative session).  With the first meeting tomorrow, a report due to the Governor and the General Assembly by December 31, and only five scheduled meetings, this task force will move very quickly.  Our hope is to be able to push the task force to make solid forward-thinking recommendations that will curtail the alarming increase in cycling accidents and change the culture on Maryland roads.Tomorrow will be the first meeting of the Maryland Bicycle Safety Task Force, and Bike Maryland will be there every step of the way.  Bike Maryland advocated strongly for the creation of this task force (one of three initiatives we successfully pushed for in the last legislative session).  With the first meeting tomorrow, a report due to the Governor and the General Assembly by December 31, and only five scheduled meetings, this task force will move very quickly.  Our hope is to be able to push the task force to make solid forward-thinking recommendations that will curtail the alarming increase in cycling accidents and change the culture on Maryland roads.

As we head into the first meeting, there is one overarching issue that we will be keeping an eye on.  Historically, when government agencies look at bicycle safety, there are two models that are commonly followed.  The first model sees finding places other than roads for cyclists as the easiest and quickest way to achieve “bike safety” and pushes cyclists off the roadways.  This is a particularly common approach with administrations that have been less than friendly to cycling.  We are worried that, in the early stages of the task force, there may be a push to direct the members toward this model.  However, the advocates on the task force will be focused on the preferred model — transforming our state roads into a truly safe intermodal system.  With the support of our bike-friendly legislators and other members, as well as some outside help coming from the rest of us, these advocates can push for recommendations that will advance safe intermodal solutions.

With that said, let’s get to the nuts and bolts of the task force.  The enabling legislation for the task force set forth ELEVEN areas for study and recommendations:

(1) safety issues related to bicycle operators on highways in the State;

(2) the appropriate operation of bicycles on highways in the State;

(3) the appropriate operation of motor vehicles in relation to bicycles on highways in the State;

(4) the adequacy of the current and future capacity and use of bike lanes, bike paths, and protected cycle tracks in the State;

(5) past, current, and future implementation of Complete Streets strategies related to facilitating safe travel for all bicyclists regardless of age, ability, or mode of travel;

(6) issues related to traffic control devices governing the operation of and behavior towards bicycles on highways in the State;

(7) public education and outreach related to the operation of bicycles on highways in the State;

(8) potential funding sources to support and encourage the safe operation of bicycles in the State;

(9) the effects of bike lanes, bike paths, and protected cycle tracks on street parking and pedestrian and vehicular traffic flow;

(10) the siting of utilities and other infrastructure along bike lanes, bike paths, and protected cycle tracks; and

(11) best practices for ensuring access to retail, residential, commercial, and other points of interest adjacent to bike lanes, bike paths, and protected cycle tracks.

While we are presenting the background, let us quickly run through the members of the task force.

Two State Senators:

Senator Susan Lee

Senator Roger Manno

 

Two State Delegates:

Delegate Andrew Cassilly

Delegate Steve Lafferty

 

Motor Vehicle Administrator Designee:  Thomas Gianni, Chief of MD Highway Safety Office (Task Force Chair)

State Highway Administrator Designee:  Peter Sotherland, Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator

State Police Secretary Designee:  Cpl. David Zanoni

 

Four Bicycle Advocates:

Laurie Lemieux, owner Proteus Bikes

Shayne Boucher, Frederick Bike Pedestrian Advisory Committee

Jon Korin, Bike Advocates for Annapolis and Anne Arundel County

FINAL ADVOCATE POSITION LEFT VACANT BY GOVERNOR

 

Motor vehicle insurance industry:  Vincent “Chip” Boylan, Willis of Maryland

AAA Mid-Atlantic:  Ragina Cooper-Averalla

Maryland Association of Counties:  Chris Eatough

Maryland Municipal League:  Mayor Patrick Wojahn

Maryland Chiefs of Police Association:  Chief Michael Wynnyk

Maryland Motor Truck Association:  Thomas Huesman

Maryland Sherriff’s Association:  Lt. Charles Baker

A civil engineer:  Mark Morelock

A traffic engineer:  Michael Lenhart

 

We plan to “live tweet” the task force meetings and will have another blog post shortly after each meeting with a summary.  We’ll also post ideas, concerns, and opportunities to get involved between meetings.  Of course, please comment and share any thoughts or ideas you have as we move through this process.

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