Maryland called 'worse than Texas' for bicyclists
Seth Guikema of Timonium sentGetting There an email that makes some uncommonly good points. Here it is in a slightly edited-down form:
I have been a bike or bike/train commuter for at least the last 17 years living in 4 different states (including other cities bigger than Baltimore) and 2 countries. My current commute involves biking in both the county and the city with a light rail ride in between. Baltimore City drivers are some of the worst I've seen when it comes to giving appropriate respect and space to bikes on the roads, even worse than Texas.
County drivers seem better. I applaud the new rules, but rules are only as good as enforcement. The police force needs to step up and enforce the rules of the road, for both drivers and cyclists. In the couple of years that I've lived in Baltimore, I've had cars try to run me off the road, spout profanity-laced tirades at me because I "should not be on the road," and chase me. I've contacted the police with the information, and I have not yet received a single follow-up.
I know Baltimore police are stretched thin, but what is the point of passing new rules if they can't be enforced? It's good for public education I suppose, but that only lasts as long as it is covered in the news.
Of course, this goes both ways. There are a lot of idiots on bikes that choose to ignore the rules of the road too. They give the rest of us a bad name. They should be ticketed for running red lights and stop signs, biking the wrong way on one-way streets, weaving through traffic, and riding on sidewalks in business districts. The police need to step up and enforce those rules too.
If we want to have any hope of achieving energy independence or of seriously addressing climate change, we need to address our collective addiction to automobiles. Bikes can and should be part of that solution, along with real, meaningful transit options. But until the roads are safe for cyclists, those of us making it our primary form of commuting will be a small minority.
The new rules are a step in the right direction, but they need to be backed up by meaningful enforcement. Thank you for helping to shine a light on this problem. Hopefully people are listening.