« No 'warm Senate welcome' for Annapolis snow | Main | Mayor SRB goes to Annapolis »

February 11, 2010

Senate wants drivers to move over for cyclists

The Maryland Senate this morning unanimously approved a measure requiring drivers to give bicycles, scooters and other personal transportation devices, such as Segways, at least three feet of space when possible.

Drivers now are required to exercise "due care" when passing cyclists, but the Senate wants to get specific on what exactly that means. A House of Delegates committee is scheduled to hear the proposal next week.

Also included in the measure is a directive that drivers are to yield right-of-way at intersections when a cyclist is in a designated bike lane or lawfully riding on the shoulder.

Violating these new provisions would be a misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $500.

The Baltimore City Paper pointed out in a recent commentary on its news blog that the measures come too late for cyclist Jack Yates, who was killed last summer at the intersection of Maryland and Lafayette avenues in Baltimore. From Michael Byrne's entry:

He was riding to the right of the right lane of Maryland as a truck passed him, also in the right lane. That is, both vehicles were smooshed into the right lane as the truck instigated a right turn onto Lafayette. The accident that resulted is a classic "right hook," one of the most dreaded occurrences in urban bicycling—and one of the most common.

Maryland lawmakers are also considering several "move over" measures that would require drivers to pull away from emergency vehicles that are stopped on shoulders to investigate traffic accidents or infractions.

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 1:15 PM | | Comments (57)
Categories: General Assembly 2010


Great idea as long as bicycles, scooters and other personal transportation devices are held to the same, To many times I've swwn bicycle riders run red lights or stop signs when they should've stopped or ride three abreast and block a complete lane of two lane roads. Both parties have to share and share alike.

As for giving room and bowing to bicycle riders and scooter riders that is a safety issue we try and observe. However, if they use the public highways that we vehicle drivers pay for in tags & taxs then make those people get tags, insurance and obey the laws.

Hey wait a sec; I thought paved roads are made for MOTORIZED vehicles? Since when do bicyclists and others rule the paved road? No you all get off roads that are NOT made for you and stay on roads WIDE enough for both.

Why isn't there a move over law for Good Samaritans too? There are times motorists come to aid of fellow motorists and don't need the assistance of police. They are also threatened with idiot drivers not paying attention. Don't Good Samaritans deserve move over protection too?

I love riding my bicycle whenever I can. I make sure that when I do, I follow the rules of the road. I know that cars and trucks are much bigger than I am, and I ride with the assumption that not everyone can see me. Unfortunately there are too many cyclists who don't follow the rules of the road... cruising through stop signs and traffic signals, riding down the center of the lane, or against traffic, not riding in single file in groups, and not signaling turns and stops. (All things I learned in elementary school that keep me safe) Drivers and cyclists just need to use common sense and be courteous of each other.

Ha! That's Maryland alright. Instead of considering bike paths or bike lanes like other cities, just pass another unenforceable law.

So, does this mean that cyclists will be required to pay for tags/titles like autos and trucks? Does it mean that cyclists will be cited when they run traffic lights/stop signs? How 'bout this...will cyclists be cited for ANY traffic violation as car drivers are? If we're really going to level the playing field, then let's level it completely and equitably.

oh geez. here we go again. poor Maryland drivers complaining that they might lose a couple seconds passing a cyclist safely. wah. I hate to break it to you guys but bike riding is GOOD FOR PEOPLE. That's right - it's healthy and oh by the way, bikes don't mess up the roads like cars do. Oh yeah, and the vast majority of cyclists are car-owners who pay more than their fair share of taxes and insurance. Health care costs are skyrocketing due to the affluent lifestyle of people who drive a half mile for supersized meals in their gas-guzzling cars. Give me a break - you folks are barking up the wrong tree. Consider yourselves lucky if this is your biggest beef.

this is the level of stupid legislation that I have come to expect from this socialist state. The roads were made for cars for mass transit - they were not made with the intention of having "personal transportation devices"! I am sick and tired of riding behind 30 cars trying to get past an idiot bicyclist because we cant pass him due to on-coming traffic. Bikers should be required to have their own lanes and should be taxed individually for their own benefit!
Bikers should stay off the roads and on their own paths!
The legislators should make themselves useful to all Marylanders or make themselves scarce!

For every cyclist that 'slowed you down' there are 100 cars that did every day. Cyclists make up 0.4% of road traffic. That's less than 1/2 of one percent. Does any thinking person really believe that bicycles are the problem on roads? No - its your motoring peers that are in your way. More bikes = Less Cars getting in your way.....

sick and tired of riding behind 30 cars? Come on - that's BS and you know it. Rarely, and I do mean, rarely does a cyclist ride on a road with that much traffic. The vast majority of cyclists ride on roads with shoulders or roads that aren't well-travelled - that is so we don't have to deal with arrogant motorists who don't want to share the road. Are you really suggesting that the cyclist who wants to get out on a beautiful day for some fresh air must FIRST apply for a permit and pay a tax before he/she can get on their bike on the road? What about kids and teenagers - should they also pay a tax to go to school on their bike? I completely agree that cyclists in violation of the law be ticketed. But that is not what this article is about. This article is about one thing - requiring motorists to adhere to a safety measure that they are not accustomed to.

About time! I ride with bright clothes and a flashing light on the back and I still get people driving way too close.

Cyclists typically ride on lightly travelled country roads and are far less of an annoyance then the fat (deleted) who slow down on busy roads such as York Road and Rte 40 to turn into McDonalds or Burger King.

We all seek less congestion - right? Bike safety legislation benefits all of us. More bike commuting equals less cars which equals less trafic so we can all get to where we want to go in a reasonable period of time. Bikes don't contribute to air or noise pollution, climate change, fuel shortage concerns, health care issues like asthma, or stressful congestion. Biking benefits people’s physical and emotional health and the health of our communities.

First off Maryland law has stated for some time that bicycles have equal road privileges. All this law does is get specific to legal passing of said vehicles. Second, the comment about it being unenforceable is not correct. If a driver now hits a cyclist, they have violated this 3 foot law. This is no different than the due care that the current law expects. It just now specifies a distance since many feel that "buzzing" a cyclist within 3 inches is "due care". Third, it's been proven time and time again the financial impact a cyclist makes actually SAVES you and the state money. Reduced medical insurance, reduced traffic, reduced wear on the roads reduced costs on pollution. Not to mention that almost every cyclist is a driver and tax payer so they are ALREADY paying the taxes some here feel they are not.
Yes, cyclists should obey the laws and are obliged to. But please don't excuse intentional attempts on their lives as justifications on another cyclists disregard to the vehicle code. I have had bottles thrown at me, purposely run off the road, buzzed by tractor trailer less than a foot from me all while abiding by the state transportation laws. Friends I have have been KILLED because of drivers inattentiveness and then justify it as saying "I did not see them" or "they moved towards me at the last second". That won't hold water anymore.

Same old tired complaints. cyclists typically do pay tags and gas fees... for their cars. Incidentally, the overwhelming majority of tag and gas taxes are used to pay for highways. Local roads, the type that cyclists are allowed to ride on, are mostly paid for by income tax and bonds. Cyclists pay income tax. Also, those gas and tag fees go to fix the damage motorized vehicles cause to the roadways, and to build more roads that are necessary because of the huge amount of congestion that motorized vehicles cause. Damage that bicycles do not cause.

Demands that cyclists pay these fees are only to discourage cyclist from being on the road. Actually, the more people that ride bicycles, the more money that is saved by tax payers, as fewer cars means less traffic, less road damage, and less need for more roads. Separated bicycle infrastructure also saves taxpayers money in the long run. By trying to discourage bicycles from being on the road, you are causing a larger fiscal demand on the state. You are costing yourself more money.

Also, roads are not meant for motorized vehicles. In the city, these roads were not built for motorized vehicles. Highways are meant for motorized vehicles, which is why bicycles are not allowed on them.

Notes to the above.

Howard: The law isn’t about holding bicyclists to the same - they’re already held to the standards of running stop signs and such. This is all about moving over so that cars and bigger vehicles don’t clip a bicyclist when speeding past of make a right turn when a bicyclist is within the wheel well.

Ramarro Smith: the public highways are available to bicyclists. If you mean the Interstates, the vehicles you mention are prohibited, and have been for a long time. Ironically, they have wider shoulder lanes than anything else…

JC: again, this isn’t about bicyclists breaking existing rules. Don’t pour fuel on the fire of misinformation.

Michael Brown: Yes, we would love to see a network of dedicated bike lanes and bike paths. Does this mean that jerky motorists should not be held accountable and responsible for creating a tolerant, accessible environment for all?

AG: well, you make many good points without screaming. Keep on.

Atall1: Any state without a government is not in America. Sorry to break the news to you. Any suggestions?

One More Bike: Good points, nice numbers.

Greg: I know what you’re saying. A lot of motorists need to Share The Road. Period.

Dave: Maybe one day, those roads will be a little more bike-and pedestrian-friendly too. And a little less lard-y.

Carol: Straight and to-the-point.

Terry Harrigan makes many good points in a straightforward manner.

For the record: I live in South Baltimore and walk or ride a bike to work nearby every day. At the office I often hear coworkers vent about bicyclists who “held up traffic all the way downtown because they would not pull over or get on the sidewalk.” Isn’t it against the rules for bicycles to ride on the sidewalk?

For some reason, many colleges and universities handed a degree to these car drivers. The “socialist government” of Maryland granted them a license to drive. Even worse, the “socialist government” of Maryland allows to drive giant SUVs without a special license, yet these drivers demand that bicycle riders must pay extra taxes to ride a bike on the streets and roads. Why this happens is anyone’s guess…

A cyclist on;y needs half of the lane but deserve full right to use both halves and get the same respect as any other vehicle in traffic.

In virtually every traffic instance of heavy enough volume to make a difference they are not hindering anyone. Take your foot off the pedal, swallow a time or two and in a few minutes you'll have the opportunity to get past them safely.

As to the rest of the "move over" laws? It is about time! Keep right except to pass, let another driver in/through, signal your intention,slow down in construction zones, and make room for cops on the side of the road to do their jobs safely.

More totalitarianism from the Socialist Republic of Maryland. I pay road taxes; cyclists do not. They are hazards on the highway already. This stupid legislation will ultimately result in head-on collisions of cars on single lane roads swinging out across the lines to maintain the 3' distance from pig-headed cyclists who think they have the inalienable right to pedal in the traffic lanes. I prefer giving bikes closer to 6" of clearance and "accidently" turning on my windshield washers as I pass them.

So, who's enforcing this 3-foot law? The yardstick police? Any sane cyclist knows this law won't make their activity any safer. Odds are, the unsafe drivers who pose the biggest threat to cyclists are the least likely to know about the bill/law let alone follow it. Mr. Yates was killed by a turning truck, not a truck that pressed him against a guardrail or wall. You can turn from 3 feet away or 20 feet away and the "right hook" is still a threat. While the intent of the law is a nice thought, our politicians should be worried about problems they can fix.

My concern is that a motorized moped is prohibited from operating on any roadway where the posted speed limit exceeds 35mph....with that in mind why is this restriction not placed on bicycles? If this same law is not to be applied why not limit or restrict the times they can operate? Try driving through parts of Glyndon and Greenspring with winding roads between 4 and 6pm...dangerous for the cyclists and motorists.

I think bikes should be allowed on roads. I am so tired of almost being run over by people riding on the sidewalks. If you are older than 12, ride in the street. I bike ride always, use light rail and NCR Trail. I live in Fells Point. Eastern Ave has all these idiots ride on the sidewalk,but one block north Bank Street has no traffic and is safe. Use secondary Roads!!!!

How are traffic violations enforced on bikers? No ID required to ride a bike, so how is the ticket written?
I doubt, contrary to some of the comments above, that a motor vehicle/bike collision will now "automatically" be the fault of the driver. Riders will still sometimes run a light or a stop sign.
Finally, while I do think there should be more care given by drivers to bikers, I do not think this law will change a single person's behavior. But it is an election year, and it does give the crooks in Annapolis something to talk about on the campaign trail besides how much they have taken from our pockets and put in their pockets.

I don't have any problem with this legislation but I do feel the need to say that many cyclists need to start riding more safely. Red light running by cyclists is a major irritation in the very area of midtown where the cyclist was killed. Another thing they do that they need to cut out is using their small size to slip between cars ahead of them in traffic and parked cars. I always give them at least three feet but it gets irritating having to pass the same cycle over and over again because the cyclist keeps getting ahead by running the light. Also, since state/city went to the trouble of building a cycle path on Falls Road, why so many cyclists continue to ride in the road where it is very difficult to pass them safely?

JoJo...I am not presenting any misinformation! I am stating what I have seen. I have experienced both inconsiderate drivers AND inconsiderate cyclists!!! You know what? Maybe there should be a conversation about cyclists breaking rules because that is endangering their own safety and the safety of others. It goes both ways!!!

Roads are for everyone. Most adult cyclists are drivers as well and pay their share of taxes along with everyone else. When biking they are doing something that is healthy and not using fuel or polluting the air.

The Senate is reminding us that roads are not the private domain of autos.

It isn't an even playing field issue - roads arn't a playing field.

It is a safety issue. I'm sure most of us who bike make serious efforts to protect ourselves and not provoke anger among drivers.

For sure, when driving, I've seen biker's who should be wiser.

If that's an issue and bikers need to take safety courses, or something, let's do it.

I ride my bike every day and find some of the comments surprise me. I own a car, and pay my taxes just like everyone else but I also get some additional exercise on my way into and out of work. I ride to save time, energy and money. I also ride to enjoy the city I love. Please do not assume that all riders are arrogant and stupid. I obey the traffic laws just like a car, but I know a lot of car drivers who do not even obey the basic law of speed limit.

Driving is not a right, it is a privilege. Just because you pay for a tag doesn't mean you own the road. Just because it's paved doesn't mean it was meant for cars... the B&A trail is paved and is only for non-motorized traffic.

Keep in mind that most of us use to bike or walk to school everyday. Would you want someone to treat your child as though they were being a stupid cyclist when they were just trying to go to school?

Any law that would help hold motorists or cyclists accountable for their actions is welcome.

to aTALL1...

long before there were cars on the roads there were horses...and bicycles. on roads.

considering that roads were conceived by the romans, and first paved in the early 1800s (about 70 years before cars existed), they could not have been designed "for cars for mass transit," as you assert.(which actually is an oxymoron considering that most of us do not use mass transit...we each drive a car). 400,000 people driving to work every morning is not mass transit. it's a traffic jam.

the roads are for all people to use, regardless of method of transport. perhaps if we had more structured laws such as this, people would know how to act and not get stacked up "30 deep" behind a cyclist.

oh, and if more people actually did use mass transit, you wouldn't be stacked up "30 deep"

Dave - that is funny and yet so true.

A better idea would be for bikes to ride on the sidewalk with pedestrians. This would be much safer for the bike riders. Oh yeah, this wouldn't go over too well because they couldn't ride 2 or three abreast and block car traffic. Carol and her ilk could rename sidewalks "greenways" or "climate change expressways". However, bicycle riding promotes climate change because of all the extra CO2 emitted from the heavy breathing of the riders. Also, all of that spandex lasts for a 100 years in a landfill. Lastly, bicycles causes motor vehicles to spend more time on the road. This increases fuel consumption and promotes air pollution.

This law is long overdue. Cyclists are the most vulnerable users of our roads. Rarely do they represent any inconvenience to motorists, much less represent a physical threat. On the other hand, motorists can, with a moment's inattention or carelessness, seriously injure or kill a cyclist. This law increases the awareness and safety of cyclists at a time when more are using the roads to conserve energy and boost health.

I love how people presume that because I ride a bike, I don't own a car or pay taxes. Cyclists represent the core of your state tax base. I know hundreds of cyclists, and I'm certain I could find stats to back up my claim. Whether I am in my car or on my bike, I do 'own the road' just as much as the next resident.

If this law is enacted it will be as enforced just like Right Turn On Red After Coming To A Full Stop. The Senate has a major budget crisis and they are debating issues like this. I bet the next thing on their agenda is to make snowfalls deeper than 6 inches illegal.

Glad to see the Maryland Senate acting responsibly to protect cyclists. This is a sensible, effective way to ensure that drivers recognize their responsibility to other, authorized road users.

As for funding, as dukiebiddle stated, local road construction and maintenance are predominantly funded through income, sales, and property taxes, all things that cyclists pay. Additionally, most cyclists also own and drive a car on a regular basis, paying registration fees and gas taxes.

Thanks for covering this Julie.

No problem as long as cyclists that don't obey traffic laws are ticketed. There are too many that don't stop at stop signs or lights. They create an unsafe situation for everyone and give a bad name to those cyclists that do follow the rules of the road.

The real problem here is you have roads designed for motor vehicles. Why is anyone surprised that bicycles create or have problems using them? Irrespective of the idiots trying to run them off the road or the bicyclist who thinks there are no rules of the road for them it's just a mismatch. All that said the major problem is while the law is enforceable contrary to what some here have said it IS subjective and indefensible. The police already have enough laws like this and they use them as such. You can't beat them. If the cop says you were 2 feet away and not 3 you could get a $500 ticket and you CAN NOT prove your innocence. You could be 5 feet away but if he wants to write that ticket he can and will and you WILL pay it because you can not prove your innocence. Unlike criminal law there is no assumption of innocence when it comes to traffic laws. You are assumed guilty and YOU have to prove your innocence. How about a common sense law and the police in their cars must film the infraction in order to write the ticket. It's doable, they all have video in their cars whenever it suits their purpose and it would make the system more fair. As for the assumption if you hit a bicyclist you've broken the law; what about the guy who drives right in front of you at the last second? You "broke the law" because he did something stupid. It's sad that anyone gets hurt but when people do stupid things stupid things happen. That's how it works. There is no catch all law for all circumstances. Something more generic with a requirement that the officer writing the ticket have supporting video on the other hand is enforceable and fair. Probably exactly why it will never happen in Maryland.

Why is that so many people believe that because folks ride bicycles or run on streets, which is totally legal, that we don't own vehicles that we tag, and that we don't already pay taxes? I was clipped while running, on the side of the road, by a woman who was talking on her cell phone while driving, and she actually sped up after she hit me. I guess it was my fault for wearning reflective clothing, running on the side of the road to get exercise? Guess what? Keep trying to prove your points by teaching bike riders and runners their lessons by trying to hit us, and when you are sitting in jail, you can complain to your cellmates about us pesky exercisers.

Drivers kill and injure cyclists now; they claim in court that the cyclist "swerved" in front of them. I have seem these careless, thoughtless drivers claim this. With the three foot law, this claim loses all plausibility. If you hit a cyclist with your car, you were traveling too close to him or her.

This law is the first step towards defending cyclists from the dangerous, angry motorists on the road. (I suspect that some of these people have made comments above.)

Those people who hate cyclists and who try to push them off the roads with their cars should take alarm at this new legislation: the law is coming after you.


I will happily pay an additional "bike tax" if I get the entire lane on any road (highways too!) in the state when I'm riding. Until then, I think the property taxes that I currently pay for the local roads is sufficient. That being said, I would love to see wider roads with clear and clean bike lanes. Anyone willing to pay a few more local tax dollars for that?

What a pointless thing to legislate on. Bike riders need to use common sense. The roads are for cars.

@Kate Delker: you mean that cyclists should be cited for traffic infractions, just like every car that violates the rules of the road? At least a few times a month I see cars run red lights and stop signs, and you can guess how often I see them getting busted for it. While we're strictly enforcing every law on the books, why don't we ticket every driver who goes over the speed limit or in some other way creates an unsafe environment for those around them? I'm not defending cyclists who run red lights - I think it's a stupid move that just gives self-righteous drivers more ammo to complain about cyclists - but if you think that the only idiots on the road are the ones on two (unmotorized) wheels then you need to take another look around .

For all of the cyclists: yes you have rights to use the roads, but you also have responsibilities. Current law requires that you ride as far right as possible - if the shoulder is smooth, then that is possible. If you get lots of flats on the shoulder, then buy thicker tires - you are not riding in the Tour. Also, riding two abreast is not riding as far right as possible. Lastly, just because you have a right to be there does not mean everyone will see you or acknowledge you. You can pull out your Maryland Motor Vehicle Statutes handbook and wave it around all you want after you pull yourself out of the ditch you were just run into, but it would be easier for everyone if you practiced a little more vigilance and awareness. If you want to purposefully pick fights with 4000 lb. cars that is your problem.

For all of the intolerant motorists, get out of your 4000 lb battering ram, borrow a bike from someone, and try riding on the road sometime to gain a little perspective. It's real easy to bully someone when you weigh 20x as much as they do - hope that is doing something for your low self-esteem. Stop being such a-holes about it. More bikes = less cars to prevent you from getting to wherever you are in such a hurry to get to.

Are we not men?

If we sit on a saddle instead of a bucket driver seat, are we lesser men?


If it wasn't for the League of American Wheelman, the first American cycling advocacy group back in the 19th century, there would have been serious hampering in getting paved roads in America.

Since when has ANYONE "had" to wait behind a cyclist in Maryland? I've never seen anyone do that. If it's not safe to pass because of on-coming traffic, I alway see drivers just pass the cyclist too close instead, which is what this measure intends to prevent.

Besides, more people on bikes means less people in cars. And if you think it's bikes and not cars that are clogging the roads and making the traffic (the on-coming traffic you think you can't get around), you're just blind.

Sure, a lot of cyclists run red lights and break other laws. I suppose all drivers obey all laws? It isn't cyclists driving dangerously that kills scores of people every year. It's drivers in cars. This is a smokescreen from people who just don't want to change their behavior or who just want to go online and complain when they don't like who's in the White House and the State House. We could throw the same smokescreen up about drivers. You disobey laws all the time, and it gets people killed. We could add that several cyclists have been killed by cars this year in Maryland (some of them by DRUNK DRIVERS), while not a single car driver has been killed by a cyclist.

It's funny that you all get so self-righteous when you call us the same.

And think about this: Almost every single cyclist in Maryland also drives a car. These aren't separatist wackos you're talking about. They are drivers of cars just like you. So they DO in fact pay the same tags and taxes that you do. And also, if you're going to pretend that you know anything about this state or who the roads "belong" to, you ought to know that your tags and gas taxes in fact do not pay for the roads. All of our taxes do that, which is why they belong to all of us. Cyclists could argue that cars and trucks destroy the roads, while bikes do not, and that -- as such -- we have MORE of a right to them than you do, since we take better care of them. That's a stupid argument, sure, but it makes as much sense as the argument that drivers somehow pay for what they drive on and that no one else has the right to the road.

P.S. All of you nuts yelling "socialist" this- and "stupid" that- ought really to go check your grammar and spelling when you're going to accuse some other person or entity of being stupid. You make you and your ilk look downright uneducated, foolish and reactionary.

Jack Yates DIED this summer and was found at fault by police because he "did not take the entire width of the road" when a truck partially passed him within the lane the turned right without fully passing the cyclist. Meanwhile, another cyclist was killed and found at fault for not riding "as far right as possible" (not the law BTW) by a driver in southern Maryland that did not clear her windshield and was fumbling with a cigarette lighter. The driver later admitted she was a fault and that the cyclist was riding where they should be. That latter driver was "fined" $314 for killing the cyclist. This is why a law is needed.
And to the writer that admitted passing cyclists within 6" and flicking their windshield wipers, I hope you never hit anyone. You have now admitted publicly your offensive actions and can be used in a court of law.
Fourteen states have already passed this law. It has proven to be enforceable and save lives.

)2, Please look up the law before you quote it. The law encourages cyclists to use a full lane when the lane is not wide enough to safely share side by side. And most travel lanes are only wide enough for just a car to use safely.

In reality the problem with shoulders is far more complex and have far more issues then what you posted, the main issue for me is that they are inconsistent in width sometimes they are wide enough and sometimes they are not so should I weave in and out of shoulders just like weaving in and out of parked cars is safe? If shoulders were designed for cyclists to ride on they would be marked as bike lanes, as they stand now they are more like road left overs.

Thanks for the comment about intolerant motorists.

SteveG... I'm sorry you were hit by a motorist while running. This particular motorist must have been paying no attention what-so-ever, because if you were running on the correct side of the road, you would have been on the complete opposite side she should have been on. Pedestrians and runners should be moving on the side FACING traffic. Bikes ride WITH traffic.

Stay safe, use common sense!

Attention cyclists; we motorists are NOT responsible for your safety. Want to ride on roads or streets not wide enough for both you and motorized vehicles or ride on congested streets with motorized vehicles, YOU ASSUME THE RISKS. Stop crying for special protection laws. PAVED roads were made for high speed MOTORIZED vehicles, not slow-poke pedals.

To the Legislature: you are setting up an (un)civil war between cyclists and motorized traffic of which the motorized car or truck will ALWAYS win. Stop putting more and more obstacles in the path of motorized traffic. Move over for this, move over for that. Pretty soon we motorists will nowhere else to drive if you keep squeezing us further off the pavement.

Wow! The kneejerk reactions from the very people we cyclist live in abject fear of every day we ride. Some of us ride 3,000 to 12,000 mile a year, mostly on rural Maryland roads. We commute, run errands and exercise/recreate. Then there are the children but let's just deal with the spandex clad guys and gals riding big miles you folks seem to have such an issue with. As has been pointed out, it is illegal for us to ride on limited access highways (Interstates, RT-32 where divided, RT-100, etc) and we generally avoid all major roadways and state routes, mostly staying on the smallest, winding and hilly roads. The point I want to make is that when you motorists come up behind us, you need to remember that, like you, we are someone's wife or husband, mother or father, son or daughter and a totally unprotected human. Second, you need to back off, slow down and simply wait the very few seconds for oncoming traffic to clear, then swing out, leave three feet or more so we have room to maneuver around potholes, stuff in the road or whatever as you overtake, then swing back in as you accelerate past. It is so simple; I don't get the irate attitude. 99% of the time, no matter how long you wait for a clear view and no oncoming traffic to pass, if you are really in a hurry (and therefore speeding), you are going to end up RIGHT BEHIND the very same car that was in front of you holding you up before you had to wait to overtake the cyclist or cycling group. It is nuts the way many barge past, barely missing us, following the car in front way too close, not being able to see around them, and endangering our lives every time, and for no reason. As much as it pains you to putz along behind us at 15-20 mph if the road is flat or even at 7-8 mph up a steep hill waiting for that necessary clear view, it is not going to change your arrival time to your destination AT ALL. It is INSANE to force your way past, to barge past without room, to figure if you get caught with oncoming traffic that they will yield or you'll just force the cyclist off the road. This 3-foot buffer only standardizes what should already be logical. I ask all drivers, if you are overtaking another car, do you get within 3 feet? Better example, you are overtaking a farm tractor (often on the roads we ride) with an evil steel thing in tow with spikes sticking out of it, do you get your precious vehicle within 3 feet of that? No way. So why would you get that close to an unprotected human on a bike? The majority of states already have this law and it simply helps with the (obviously needed) education. As to all the sideways stuff, if you really believed in taxing to pay for roads, then you guys in your 6,000 lb + SUV's and dually work trucks would be paying massively more in fees than 2500-3500 pound cars since they do so much more damage and bikes can't possibly be worth mentioning because they do zero damage. As other's said, we pay our fair share with our cars anyway, this is a stupid argument. Three feet will only come into being an issue for car/truck drivers when they pass too closely and someone on a bike gets hit and given the way most of the investigations go around here (we've lost several friends to careless drivers in the last few years), you don't have much to worry about anyway.

Who pays for the roads?
The gas tax, registration etc only cover a minority of the costs of cars using the roads (estimates vary, but its often less than 50%). The rest comes out of general revenue: income tax, sales tax, etc. If drivers want roads all to themselves, they need to get ready for gas at $6+ /gallon.

Roads were built for motorized vehicles?
Roads were built for people and horses, then bikes, then cars. The first paved roads in USA were built due to lobbying efforts of cyclists, in Detroit.

Cyclists need to obey the law.
They sure do: I've been driving and almost had an accident due to idiot cyclists. Cyclists without lights is particularly stupid. At the same time, in my drive to work this morning, everyone was speeding, there was lots of tailgating, and most people seem to forget about turn signals. Yet I don't hear people saying cars should not be allowed on the road until they are held to the law.

So many of the motorist-only crowd has no facts to back up their arguments.

The The League of American Bicyclists is responsible for paved roads not the automobile. Not to mention the bicycle helped design caliper style brakes for the auto.

A bicycle is considered a road vehicle with all the rights and responsibilities that come with that.

A cyclists does not need to touch the ground with their foot in order to come to a complete stop, as we don't expect motorists to touch the ground with their foot.

The average income of a subscriber to cycling magazines is well over six figures. We likely pay more taxes than most.

These are just a few arguments as to why cyclists are legally entitled to be on the road. We were here first, are allowed to be, and pay lots of taxes!!

My favorite part of Sean O'Donnell's post:

"currently a graduate student at the University of Baltimore studying law and ethics. "

If was as good a reporter as he seems he'll make a lawyer, I think we have a pretty good idea why the Examiner went under.

Sean, I think any biker would agree with the statement that they need to use common sense. Why don't you look up the LAW before you make a stupid statement like the roads being for cars, though.

I'm a bit shocked that so many people hold this view. This is not what the law says. Except for interstates and a few highways, bicycles have the same passage rights as cars. In fact, by them getting over to the side, they are doing the drivers a favor. Think about being stuck behind a cyclist going 10 mph who has the legal right to use the entire lane. You might want to intimidate the rider into pushing over, but remember the liability issue. You could lose your house thanks to an sudden burst of anger that causes an injury.

Clearly, we don't live in a socialist state, so let me be clear I don't agree with that notion at all. However, I drive to work in the middle of Baltimore every day and I have seen more than a fair share of people on bikes in a space where there is absolutely no room for them. Then they turn around and give me a dirty look if I'm behind them trying to get to work. My car can go faster than your bike, if you can't keep up, don't drive on city streets. If you want to drive on city streets, then figure out how to get the city to create more bike lanes that allow cars enough room to turn and drive without totally disrupting traffic the way I see bikers do all the time.

Mark, if you're going to say that drivers are not responsible for the safety of anyone else on the road, drivers can't rightly blame us for slowing them down, now can they? And let's run with your logic. That means that I'm not responsible for your safety, either. Or anyone else's. I might as well ride on sidewalks and mow people down. That also means that NO ONE is responsible for YOUR safety, either, since you are ASSUMING THE RISK, as you put it. That means that drunk drivers would not be responsible for hurting or killing you, since you knew that drunk drivers are all over the place when you got behind the wheel. We're either all responsible for everyone else's safety, or it's a free for all. Are you against drunk driving laws, too? For that matter, is anyone? All this reaction against a law that legislates safety and common sense would seem to indicate it. Or, is it really just "I want the whole road" mentality?

The attitude of looking out only for #1 gets cyclists, pedestrians and other drivers killed every single day. Geez, I hope I never get close to your vehicle. You're blaming the legislature for starting a "civil war" wherein the cars (i.e., what's bigger, what can kill a cyclist) will always win. Nice. You're bigger; so you win. Very civilized. Cyclists are bigger than you on foot. Does that give them the right to run you over? And if they do, that's the legislature's fault? What are you imagining, us all running around on Stevenson Lane trying to play chicken with Suburbans?

This is great news. I now can take my bike instead of my car. This not only helps the environment, but also cause less congestion on the road.

Thank you Maryland.

im moving out of this stressed out,always angry,no love for humans state, maryland sucks. i lived in san diego ca, breck co, n have visited utah, arizona, north carolina n have never been treated so harsh n evil by so many drivers like here in the DC AREA, i hope this place get nuked one day,ive been cycling for 30 years n maryland sucks!!

Time and time again on county roads that are narrow enough these idiot cyclists choose to ride on hazardous roads already extremely tight to begin with. Check out Loch Raven area on a weekend or Belfast Road. The cyclists are the hazard. Just wait until this ridiculous law results in a head on collision.
Instead of adding laws, these idiots need to partition for shoulders at the areas they insist on riding on so dangerously.

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Verification (needed to reduce spam):


Headlines from The Baltimore Sun
About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
Most Recent Comments
Sign up for FREE local news alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for local news text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Breaking News newsletter
When a big news event breaks, we'll e-mail you the basics with links to up-to-date details.
Sign up

Blog updates
Recent updates to news blogs
 Subscribe to this feed
Charm City Current
Stay connected