There’s no shortage of action on bills that effect cyclists circulating in Annapolis. While three bills will directly effect Maryland riders, the bill most effecting cycling conditions is the one flying under the radar: HB524: End The Gridlock! introduced by Delegate Brian Feldman (Montgomery County) (Seriously, that’s the official name of the bill)
Aside from the gun control bill, no other bill will generate more debate this session. With funds depleted from the state transportation “trust’ fund, HB524 will establish the means by which future transportation projects are funded AND provide a specific list of projects that will be commenced. Given the name of the bill, the implied intent is to make it easier to drive a car. With induced demand, there’s no way that we can realistically build our way out of this transportation crisis. The real crisis will occur if Marylanders, who know the benefits of sustainable transportation (walking, biking, transit) do not contact their state delegates & senators to focus more responsible funding on these types of projects.
Here’s an update on the other three bills:
HB445 (Overtaking Another Vehicle) – As a modification of the “3 Foot Law’, this bill would have given some teeth toward enforcement and leniency to well-intentioned motorists by allowing cars to cross a double yellow line to pass a bike, or any other slower-moving vehicle. This would have been nice, but the bill died in committee on Monday, February 25th. The bill was sponsored by Delegate Jon Cardin (Baltimore County), chair of the Bike Caucus.
HB160 (Riding on Sidewalks) – This bill would have reiterated the statewide status quo for allowing bicycle riding on sidewalks. Sponsored by Delegate Aruna Miller (Montgomery County), this bill received mixed reviews from the cycling community. Yes, sometimes riding in the roadway is treacherous, but many times sidewalk riding is more treacherous to pedestrians. This bill would have had no effect on Baltimore City’s law prohibiting sidewalk riding. Suffering a similar fate to HB445, HB160 also died in committee in Monday, February 25th.
HB339 (Required Use of Protective Gear a.k.a. Mandatory Helmet Law) remains alive in the Environmental Matters committee. Given Delegate McIntosh’s impeccable bill passage record, HB339 is likely to survive committee. While the Maryland Department of Transportation initially submitted a ‘neutral’ written testimony on the bill, the testimony has now been changed to FAVORABLE! Therefore, if the bill does survive committee, what options do Maryland cyclists favor?
- Nothing! We need this bill dead! The existing helmet law applying to those 16 and younger is good enough
- For all people of all ages on bikes travelling on roadways with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or greater
- For all people of all ages on bikes no matter what type of facility they’re travelling on