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Support The Better 3′ Bills Introduced in House & Senate

By - February 16, 2015

We’ve had another productive week working for better cycling conditions in Maryland by gaining co-sponsors to the House 3′ bill and meeting with the acting secretary of Transportation.

The Better 3′ Bills have been introduced as Senate Bill 0547 by Senator Kathy Klausmeier and House Bill 0588 by Delegate Steve Lafferty.  These identical bills improve Maryland’s 3′ law by removing the inadequate road space exemption and by adding a ‘slow to pass’ clause.  Last week, Delegate Lafferty’s bill was co-sponsored by Delegates Susan Aumann, Christian Miele, Brooke Lierman, Maggie McIntosh, Al Carr, Barbara Frosh, Eric Luedtke and David Fraser-Hidalgo.

Now’s your chance to support these bills!  Please contact your state senator and delegate to vote favorably for these bills.  Send a message to your General Assembly representatives online, click here to fill in your address and send a quick message to your elected officials.

If you want to testify email Emily to have her sign you up or collect your written testimony. The Senate bill hearing is February 24th and the House bill hearing is March 5th.

Last week, Emily and I met with Pete Rahn, Acting Secretary for the Department of Transportation.  During our 45 minute meeting, we discussed how we would like to see Maryland progress as a state with bicycle friendly policies and funding mechanisms.

  • Mr. Rahn clarified some points on his previous tenures in New Mexico and Missouri, in that the bicycle coordinator in Missouri was replaced with an engineering position.
  • He also explained his opposition to the Missouri Complete Streets bill stating that not every street can have all elements on complete streets. While I agree that complete streets elements are subject to their context or surroundings, documenting the improvements made helps quantify implementations made.  However, the final he opposed was the compromise legislators and the Missouri Department of Transportation crafted.
  • When asked about ‘partial paving’ practices (only adding new pavement to half of the roadway shoulder), Mr. Rahn saw this as a cost savings measure.  While paving half of the shoulder does save money, it does not save lives.  Poor shoulder conditions, especially with a 2″ longitudinal seam, force cyclists to ride in the roadway with higher speed traffic.  These conditions have led to cyclists deaths and injuries in New Mexico.
  • We agreed that more training was needed for public and private engineers and planners on bicycle infrastructure.  While Maryland has exhibited better bike facilities in recent years, more education can only help especially when assisted by bicyclists.

Like any good watchdog organization, this last month we have been in contact with our bicycle advocate counterparts in New Mexico and Missouri to learn about their experiences with Mr. Rahn.  We know what happened in those states and will be on-guard to make sure that Maryland does not backslide on our bike improvements. Full paving, our bicycle and pedestrian advisory committee, and institutionalized bicycle and pedestrian accommodation in SHA have all made Maryland a better place to bike and live; we will not let these go without a fight.

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