November 10, 2011

City gives company right to develop bike-sharing

The city Board of Estimates has approved a deal giving a company that specializes in bicycle-sharing the exclusive right to develop such a program in Baltimore. B-Cycle, a Waterloo, Wis.-based company, has been given 180 days to negotiate a contract to provide a bike-sharing at no cost to the city.

Such programs, which typically station rental bikes at strategic locations around a city so that members can use them whenever they need them, are widespread in Europe. Cities with such programs include Paris, London and Seville, Spain. In the United States, B-Cycle operates such programs in such cities as Chicago, Denver and San Antonio.

Washington has had a program up and running since September 2010, though with another vendor. The programs operate in a manner similar to the Zipcar service that rents vehicles to members, using set-aside parking spaces in Baltimore and other cities.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:25 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bicycles

September 21, 2011

Cyclovia in Roland Parks canceled

The Roland Park Cyclovia IV, which had been planned for this Sunday, has been called off, according to the Baltimore Department of Transportation.

The event, a street festival in which at least part of a broad city avenue is closed to vehicle traffic so that walkers and bicyclists can have unfettered use of the roadway, was to have taken place between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Roland Avenue and University Parkway. Kathy Chopper, a department spokeswoman, said she did not know the reason for the cancellation.

Carol Silldorff, executive director of Bike Maryland and an organizer of the event, said it was called off because of delays in receiving an answer from the city's permit office regarding the cost. She said that after the decision was made to scrap it, organizers found the city intended to charge $5.000 -- more than they were prepared to pay. She said she hopes the Cyclovia can be rescheduled for October.

Cyclovia is based on a concept developed in Bogota that has been adopted by several U.S. cities.


Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:55 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bicycles

August 16, 2011

Bicylists should be aware: They can kill too

Bicyclists tend to think of themselves as the road's good guys. They use less fuel, pollute leass and exposed themselves to more risks than drivers. And, for the most part, they pose a minimal threat to others.

 But not always. A National Public Radio story out of San Francisco reminds us that bicycles can kill too when they are not operated safely. Bicycles may be the lightest vehicles on the road, but they are still vehicles and can reach deadly speeds. And pedestrians are just as vulnerable to speeding bicycles as bicyclists are to recklessly driven cars.

From my observations, Baltimore's bicyclists can really use this reminder. All too often, bicyclists here act as if no laws apply to them -- especially at red lights. Most organized bicycle groups are very safety-conscious, and will likely want to pass this news item along to their members.


Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:30 AM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Bicycles

August 10, 2011

Bicyclist struck near Hopkins in Feb. dies

Nathan Krasnopoler, the Johns Hopkins University student who was struck and critically injured by a car while riding his bicycle along University Parkway in February, died Wednesday morning at Gilchrist Center in Howard County, his family announced.

Meanwhile, a lawyer for the family said the 83-year-old driver who struck Krasnopoler has agreed to forfeit her license.

Krasnopoler, a 20-year-old sophomore, never regained consciousness after suffering brain injuries when he collided Feb. 26 with a car that turned into his path. According to the family, he died peacefully with his family by his side almost a week after after entering hospice care Aug. 4.

A Baltimore woman, Jeannette Marie Walke of Baltimore pleaded guilty May 11 to negligent driving and failure to yield right of way to a bicyclist in a designated lane. She paid a fine of $220, about half the amount she could have been penalized has a police officer not made a mistake in writing  the citations, without appearing in court.

Continue reading "Bicyclist struck near Hopkins in Feb. dies" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 1:51 PM | | Comments (35)
Categories: Bicycles, On the roads

July 28, 2011

First leg of ICC bike trail opens Saturday

The first leg of the bicycle path that will run alongside the partially completed Intercounty Connector will open Saturday in Montgomery County, the State Highway Administration said.

The 2.5-mile section, which will run from Needwood Road to Emory Lane with a connection to Muncaster Mill Road, is part of what will eventually be a network of 11.5 new and 3 miles of reconstructed 3d trails through the ICC corridor. The road itself is open from Georgia Avenue to Interstate 370.

The SHA said it will open more miles of trail as sections of the ICC east of Georgia Avenue are completed. The agency said the bike trails will eventually allow bicyclists to ride from the Shady Grove Metro station in Gaithersburg to the Muirkink MARC station in Laurel.

Continue reading "First leg of ICC bike trail opens Saturday" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:40 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bicycles

July 20, 2011

Bike Maryland to hold second 'Larry's Ride'

Bike Maryland will hold its second "Larry's Ride and Run" Sept. 24 in memory of Larry Bensky, a bicyclist who was killed last year while pedaling through a semi-rural area of northern Baltimore County.

The Saturday event, which will last from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., will raise money for Bike Maryland's advocacy efforts for bicycle safety. Bensky's death April 6, 2010 on Butler Road, helped provide some of the impetus for the final passage of a 3-foot buffer bill that was adopted by the General Assembly that year. The 43-year-old Bensky, who was struck by a passing car, left a wife and two daughters.


Continue reading "Bike Maryland to hold second 'Larry's Ride'" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:56 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bicycles

May 5, 2011

Rules of road for bicyclists proposed

Generally, this blog shies away from presenting "tips" from commercial interests. They often tend to be more self-serving than useful. But this list, from Genesis Bikes, seems useful, timely and well worth sharing -- especially in view of the impressive amount of unsafe bicycling observed in Maryland.

Warning: There may be some snarky comments inserted by the blog's editor, for which Genesis is not to blame.

We’re not going to pedal around the subject.  Bicycle safety equipment protects a rider, but unfortunately – no amount of gear can adequately prevent a dangerous accident.  The best way to avoid injuries while commuting on a bike is to steer those handlebars defensively.

Genesis – a top-selling line of bicycles, featuring high-quality designs, performance, and safety components at affordable prices – offers these Ten Rules of the Road to keep bike riders safe:

1. Always wear a helmet.

COMMENT: This is a no-brainer in a quasi-literal sense of the term. There is no such thing as a safe bicyclist without a helmet. Any bicyclist I see on the road without one immediately puts me on the same idiot alert that goes off when I see a tailgater. No, wearing a helmet while bicycling is not the law -- but it should be.


Continue reading "Rules of road for bicyclists proposed" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:34 AM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Bicycles

April 12, 2011

Driver, 83, ticketed in collision with bicycle

The 83-year-old driver of a car that struck and gravely injured a 20-year-old Johns Hopkins student who was bicycling near the university has been ticketed for two alleged traffic violations, the Baltimore State's Attorney and Police Department said Tuesday.

The decision to charge Jeanette Marie Walke in the crash with Nathan Krasnopoler on Feb. 26 comes despite an initial announcement by police that charges were not expected. That statement brought a flurry of criticism from advocates for Maryland bicyclists, who have long contended that city police are too quick to excuse drivers involved in crashes with bikes.

Walke received two traffic citations -- for negligent driving and failure to yield the right-of-way to a bicyclist in a designated bike lane. However, State' Attorney Gregg Bernstein said an investigation found no evidence of gross negligence, which would be required to justify a felony prosecution for vehicular manslaughter if the victim were to die.


Continue reading "Driver, 83, ticketed in collision with bicycle" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:17 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Bicycles, On the roads

Bike advocates cheer manslaughter bill's passage

Advocates for Maryland's bicyclists expressed delight Tuesday that the General Assembly passed a bill creating a new misdemeanor offense for drivers who kill people as a result of serious negligence, giving prosecutors and alternative between traffic charges and felony manslaughter.

The legislation passed both houses in the waning hours of the 2011 session Monday night after the House accepted a Senate amendment crafted to lessen the chance that a driver would serve time in jail for a death caused by routine driving errors.

Proponents say the new charge of manslaughter by criminal negligence, punishable by up to three years in jail and a $5,000 fine, fills a gap in the law between simple traffic offenses such as negligent driving and felony automotive manslaughter.

Continue reading "Bike advocates cheer manslaughter bill's passage" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:03 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bicycles, On the roads

April 5, 2011

Bicyclists to ride for manslaughter bill

Bike Maryland will hold a ride from Baltimore to Annapolis Wednesday morning to mobilize support for a bill that would create a new offense of manslaughter by criminal negligence – more serious than a traffic charge but with a lesser penalty than felony vehicular manslaughter.

The bicyclists will leave Baltimore's War Memorial Plaza aboutt 8 a.m.  and take the Baltimore & Annapolis Trail to the state capital, where they are being urged to attend a hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. The bill has passed the House but the Senate committee's  chairman, Brian E. Frosh, has expressed misgivings about the legislation, saying it could lead to jail terms for people who commit unintentional driving errors.

Continue reading "Bicyclists to ride for manslaughter bill " »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:57 PM | | Comments (33)
Categories: Bicycles, On the roads

Family issues statement on Krasnopoler's condition

The family of Nathan Krasnopoler, the 20-year-old Johns Hopkins student who was struck by a car while bicycling near the university in February, is reporting Tuesday that doctors now have "no hope of a meaningful recovery."

The family's statement, which follows an earlier email from a Hopkins dean to the university community, said physicians have determined that the damage to Krasnopoler's brain is permanent and that he is "not expected to regain any cognitive function."

The statement does not say that Krasnopoler has no brain activity or all or that death is imminent, but it leaves little hope that he will regain consciousness after the Feb. 26 collision with a car driven by an 83-year-old woman who was making a right turn into a driveway off University Parkway.


Continue reading "Family issues statement on Krasnopoler's condition" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:09 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bicycles, On the roads

Krasnopoler not expected to recover brain function

Nathan Krasnopoler, the 20-year-old Johns Hopkins University student who was struck by a motorist while bicycling on University Parkway in February, is not expected to recover conscious brain function, according to an email sent out by the university.

Hopkins spokesman Dennis O'Shea said the following email from Nicholas Jones, dean of the school of engineering, was released at the request of the family:


We have sad news to report regarding Nathan Krasnopoler, our student who was hit by a car and critically injured on Feb. 26. Nathan's family has informed us that the brain damage that Nathan sustained as a result of the accident appears to be permanent and he is not expected to recover any cognitive function. We are deeply saddened to learn this and ask that everyone join us in keeping Nathan and his family in their thoughts at this very difficult time.

Krasnopoler had been in a coma since the collision. His case has aroused anger among the region's bicycle advocates, who saw the Baltimore police department's original response as inadequate. The police have since promised a thorough investigation.


Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:56 AM | | Comments (35)
Categories: Bicycles, On the roads

March 23, 2011

Auto manslaughter bill moves ahead in House

A bill that proponents contend would close the gap between a traffic ticket and a felony vehicular manslaughter charge for drivers responsible for the deaths of others has won approval from the House committee where it had languished for many years.

The bill to establish an intermediate charge of manslaughter by criminal negligence won prelimary approval from the full House Wednesday after recieiving a unanimous vote Tuesday night in the House Judiciary Committee, where it had been stalled for many years without receiving a vote.

The bill's advance cheered advocates for bicyclists' groups such as Bike Maryland, who are among the most vocal supporters of the legislation. But their joy could be short-lived because even if the bill passes on a final vote in the House, it faces a skeptical reception in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.


Continue reading "Auto manslaughter bill moves ahead in House" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:04 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bicycles, On the roads

March 22, 2011

Bicylists can be road ragers too, it seems

Bicyclists absolutely have a right to use the roads -- except for those from which they are legally excluded. And Getting There has little sympathy for the drivers who whine that they shouldn't have to share the roads with bicycles because they might have to endure a few seconds of delay. Coexisting with bicycles is a basic driving skill, and drivers who can't do so gracefully ought to turn in their licenses and take the bus.

But every one in a while comes a reminder that there are jerks on bicycles too. That latest comes in an email from Tom Shettle of Timonium:

Sunday, March 20th, at approximately 2:30 PM I was driving north on Roland Avenue and stopped for the traffic signal at Northern Parkway.  I was in the right lane.  There were four males on bicycles also stopped and facing north.  Before the signal changed to green one angelic cyclist started across Northern Parkway.  The other cyclist waited for the light. 

Continue reading "Bicylists can be road ragers too, it seems" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:16 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Bicycles

February 22, 2011

Bike advocate sees positive signs at MDOT

The Maryland Department of Transportation is becoming increasingly aware to bicycle riders' issues and responsive to their concerns, according to a delegate who has been a champion of bike-related issues in recent years.

Del. Jon Cardin, a Baltimore County Democrat, told Bike Maryland's annual Bicycle Symposium Tuesday, that he has seen positive policy moves coming out of the department and its agencies. Cradin said he has been informed that the Motor Vehicle Administration has decided to include six bike safety questions on the exam drivers must take to receive their licenses.

Cardin, himself a bike rider, also said the State Highway Administration has adopted a policy under which it will incorporate improvements for bicycles -- bike lane additions, lane striping for bicycles or improved signage -- in every road repaving project where its is not physically impossible.

We have calls in to the two agencies to see what they have to say.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 12:36 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bicycles

January 12, 2011

Bicycle activists push tougher negligence law

With the opening of the General Assembly session today, Maryland's bicycling advocates are renewing their effort to pass legislation addressing a gap in the law between simple negligent driving and the criminal offense of negligent manslaughter by automobile.

Concerned that drivers in fatal crashes are getting off too easily under the negligent driving statute -- a ticket-able offense that can be resolved without trial by paying a fine --  the advocates are trying to create an intermediate charge of "manslaughter by motor vehicle -- criminal negligence."

That charge, which would apply when a sober driver kills someone through gross negligence not related to intoxication, would be a serious misdemeanor carrying a potential term of three years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Continue reading "Bicycle activists push tougher negligence law" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:29 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bicycles

January 11, 2011

Bicycle projects found to have jobs payoff

A study by a researcher at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, focused on projects in Baltimore, suggests that they payoff in terms of job creation from bicycle and pedestrian projects significantly exceeds that from work on road infrastructure.

In her paper, Heidi Garrett-Peltier concludes that bicycle-pedestrian projects such as hiker-biker paths and the creation of bike lanes yield 11-14 jobs per $1 million spent, compared with seven for road work.

The technical study, which can hardly be recommended as exciting reading, says that bicycle and pedestrian projects typically involve a  higher percentage of labor and engineering costs than spending on materials  when compared with road projects.

The study will come as good news for bicycle advocates, whose environmental case for  investment in hiker-biker infrastructure will now be bolstered by economic evidence. Whether that yields much investment in the current budget climate remains to be seen.



Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:04 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bicycles

November 8, 2010

City Council to vote on 'Cyclists' Bill of Rights'

The Baltimore City Council is scheduled to vote tonight -- and almost certainly approve -- a non-binding resolution expressing support for improved conditions for bicycling,

 Called 'the Cyclists' Bill of Rights," the resolution would state the council's support for equal access to city streets and safe travel for bicyclists. The resolution, sponsored by Counciilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, also calls for greater involvement of bicyclists in the planning process, improved bike parking and more awareness of bicyclists rights in accident cases.

The resolution is part of a package of pro-bicycling legislation sponsored by Clarke. Other bills, which would be binding, require the city  Transportation Departmment to include bicycling concerns in planning project and require major employers to provide bike lockers or racks  for employees. Those bills are  up for preliminary approval tonight, Clarke said.


Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:36 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bicycles

November 3, 2010

Article explores bike-car-pedestrian relations

Reuters has an interesting article on the sometimes toxic relations among motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists. Felix Salmon writes from a New York bicyclist's point of view, but he's not at all sparing of his fellow bikers who trample all over the traffic laws. And most of his points are equally applicable in the streets of Baltimore.

The arrticle is especially recommended  to bicyclists who think they should be exempt from the traffic laws that govern sidewalk use and one-way  streets. Salmon explains, clearly  and from a bicyclists' point of view, why this is dangerous folly.



Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:01 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bicycles, On the roads

November 1, 2010

Earth to north county: Bikes aren't going away

It never fails. If the Getting There Monday column deals with bicycles, it inevitably inspires emails lamenting the fact that bicyclists have the gall to actually use the roads. For some reason, it seems that about 99 percent of these messages emanate from northern Baltimore County, where the peculiar notion has taken hold that the roads are for the use of motor vehicles only.

There's one little flaw with this premise: It's not true. From the time Maryland roads were first paved, they have been open to bicycles, farm equipment, buggies and all manner of slow-moving vehicles (except for interstates  and a limited number of other limited-access highways).

The variation I hear most on this theme is that bicyclists should not be permitted to use narrow roads without shoulders. Why? Because motorists have to slow down and are dreadfully inconvenienced.

Continue reading "Earth to north county: Bikes aren't going away" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:05 PM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Bicycles, On the roads

October 13, 2010

Bicyclist says many drivers don't know 'Jack'

Every once in a while Getting There receives a reader comment that's so well thought-out and well-wriiten it's worth breaking out with a posting of its own. The following, from Dennis Eichenlaub of Columbia, is one of them. OK, so I guess it doesn't hurt that he basically agrees with my Oct. 8 Sun column on bicyclists' rights and responsibilities on the road. Unlike certain bicyclists, Eichenlaub seems to lack the persecution complex that prevents them from recognizing when someone's fundamentally in agreement with them.

Thanks for a very well balanced write-up on road cycling. If there’s anybody who doesn’t agree with what you wrote – car or cycle – they certainly should.
I discovered bike riding about 4 years ago. Now I ride about 2500 miles a year. Before July, I did most of my riding in northern Baltimore County. In July, I moved to Columbia and now I am discovering Howard County.
There are a few angry drivers. I call them all “Jack”. (If you think *everybody* is a safe and courteous driver, you don’t know Jack.)  But one of the really great things about riding around here is the safety and courtesy shown by most car drivers. I like to say that car drivers around here are better than Ivory Soap. As you may remember, Ivory Soap is 99 44/100% pure. In my experience, drivers in this area are much more than 99 44/100% courteous. I am always finding myself acknowledging some kindness or courtesy with a friendly wave. 

Continue reading "Bicyclist says many drivers don't know 'Jack'" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:46 PM | | Comments (4)

October 5, 2010

MVA chief replies to bicyclists' objections

There was quite a bit of outrage in the Baltimore bicyclist community about my basically pro-bicyclist column in Monday's Sun. The column accurately quoted Buel Young, spokesman for the Motor Vehicle Administration, on the effects of the state's new law requiring motorists to maintain a 3-foot buffer when passing bicyclists.

Among the most outraged was local bicyclist Barry Childress, who fired off a letter essentally calling for Young's head on a platter (OK, slight exaggeration). The following is the reply he received from John T. Kuo, head of the MVA:

Dear Mr. Childress:

As follow up to our telephone conversation yesterday evening, thank you again for sharing your concerns regarding the statements attributed to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) in Michael Dresser’s October 3, 2010 "Getting There" column entitled "New bicycle law codifies common sense, courtesy / But folks on two wheels have responsibilities, too." The article concerns the new law that requires a three-foot buffer when passing a bicycle.

This new law does not change or impact any other existing motor vehicle laws. A bicycle on the road is considered a vehicle and has exactly the same rights as any other vehicle on the road.  In fact, Maryland Motor Vehicle Law states that "every person operating a bicycle or a motor scooter in a public bicycle area has the rights granted to and is subject to all the duties required of the driver of a vehicle by this title."  In addition, all drivers have the responsibility to show due care as stated in Maryland Vehicle Law 21-504 to avoid colliding with any pedestrian.

Continue reading "MVA chief replies to bicyclists' objections" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:00 PM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Bicycles

September 20, 2010

Tour du Port set Oct. 3

A fix-a-flat contest that will seek to reveal Baltimore's best at repairing a bicycle tire is one of the new features at this year's Tour du Port on Oct. 3.

The annual bicycle event, sponsored by One Less Car, will include rides of from 12 to 63 miles. The starting point is the Canton Waterfront Park.

Music will be provided by Everyman. The Whole Foods Market Harbor East and Mount Washington stores  will supply lunch. Discounted registration for the ciity's largest bicycle-related gathering is available through Wednesday at the One Less Car website.


Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:28 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bicycles

September 15, 2010

Larry's Ride to remember bicyclist

Friends of Larry Bensky have organized an event they call Larry's Ride to commemorate the life of the bicyclist killed in a collision with a car in April in northern Baltimore County.

The Sept. 25 event includes rides of three distances -- 10 miles, 20 miles and 42 miles -- as well as activities for non-riders. Activities begin at 9 a.m. with the 42-mile ride at Spring Meadow Farms, 15513 Hanover Pike in Upperco, and continue until 3 p.m. with a cookout following the rides.

Bensky, 43,  was killed when he was struck by a vehicle on Butler Road near Falls Road. He left behind a wife and two daughters.  His death became a rallying point for advocates of bicycle safety and helped give impetus to legislation creating a 3-foot buffer rule that will take effect Oct. 1. Money from the event, admission for which ranges from $15 to $30, will go toward the education of Bensky's daughters.

For information and online registration, click here.


Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:15 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bicycles

August 12, 2010

Get breaking news on traffic, transit here

Has a four-vehicle crash closed the Jones Falls Expressway? Did a light rail train jump the tracks? Are hundreds of passengers stranded on a MARC train?

You can find out fast by receiving text message alerts from The Baltimore Sun's Breaking News Desk. Just click here to sign up to receive traffic alerts and other news as it happens. These are not routine announcements or advisories about everyday congestion but the type of major developments that can help commuters get to home or work faster.

There is no charge for the service from The Sun, though standard test-message charges from cell phone providers may apply.


Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:28 PM | | Comments (0)

May 20, 2010

Bicyclists have a lot going on starting tonight

The Baltimore--Washington region's bicyclists have a full calendar of events coming up over the next few days, starting with an organizational happy hour of the fledgling Baltimore Bicycle Alliance this evening at Koopers Tavern, 1702 Thames Street in Fells Point.

 Sponsors hope the social event, which runs from 5:30 p.m. until 8 p.m.,  will help lead to creation of a group that can be a force in working for bicyclists' interests.

Tomorrow is Bike to Work day in the Baltimore area, sponsored by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council. Bicycle commuters will be gathering in locations around the metro area to bike into work together. At least 15 bike convoys are expected. Meet-up locations include:

Anne Arundel Co/Annapolis - City Dock, Annapolis
Baltimore City - War Memorial Plaza at City Hall (100 N. Holliday St.)
Baltimore County - Courthouse Square (400 Washington Ave, Towson)
Carroll County - Westminster
Harford County - Government Center (220 S. Main St, Bel Air)
Howard County - The Mall in Columbia (by Sears Service Center, 10300 Little Patuxent Parkway)

Registration for the rallies preceding the bike-in starts at 7 p.m. at most locations, though some may differ.

Sunday will bring the BikeJam at Patterson Park with pro riders, food, beer, kid activities and a bike and health expo.

Also on Sunday, the Bike DC Washington and Arlington Community Bike Ride, which will involve multiple events starting as early as 7 a.m. for bicyclists and street closings that could affect motorists in Washington and its Virginia neighbor. There will be a 19-mile bike ride for those with superior stamina, with short cuts for those who don't want to pedal as far.

The street closings include:

Continue reading "Bicyclists have a lot going on starting tonight" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:06 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bicycles

May 19, 2010

Governor will approve bicycle 3-foot rule

Gov. Martin O'Malley is planning to sign a bill Thursday that will require drivers to maintain a 3-foot buffer zone between them and a bicyclist while passing. The measure passed late in the General Assembly session after a determined lobbying effort by bicycle advocates.

The measure also applies to vehicles passing motor scooters. Another bill to be signed clarifies when a bicyclist is entitled to use the main roadway instead of the shoulder.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:43 PM | | Comments (0)

May 11, 2010

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.

Continue reading "Maryland called 'worse than Texas' for bicyclists" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:42 PM | | Comments (10)

Rules of road: Bicycles may ride abreast -- sometimes

Several readers have written in with the impression that any time they spot bicycle riders side-by-side in the same law, they're seeing a violation. Not so.

Here's what the Maryland Drivers Handbook says the subject:

 Riding single file on roadways or trails is safer, but you may ride two abreast if not impeding traffic.

That's all it says, but the unwritten corrollary to that would  be that once two bicyclists cruising down a little-used road sense a vehicle coming up  behind then, they should quickly fall into single file to let the car or truck pass. It's a metter of simple courtesy.

Drivers, meanwhile, need to hold on to their patience long enough to let the bicyclists complete that maneuver. Most will do so in a reasonable amount of time.

If they don't, the horn is not the answer. (Actually, horns are almost never the answer to any driving problem.) If the bicyclists are daydreaming, a horn blast can startle them and cause them to lose control. If they seem to be willfully delaying a driver, a dirty look upon finally passing should suffice.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:54 AM | | Comments (4)

May 10, 2010

Passing a bicycle: Here's the rules

There seems to be a fair amount of confusion about the rules of the road when it comes to motor vehicles are bicycles. So every once in a while Getting There will pass along a nugget of wisdom from the Maryland Driver's Manual.

What follows needs  to be updated in one respect: As of Oct. 1, the 3-foot clearance mentioned below will be the law, not just a suggestion. (Boldface added by the blogger.)

Passing a Bicyclist
When passing a bicyclist, wait until it is safe and allow adequate
clearance (usually about three feet from the side of your vehicle)
and return to your lane when you can clearly see the bicyclist in
your rear view mirror. Do not use your horn to alert or alarm the
If you are unable to safely pass, reduce your speed, follow the
bicycle and wait for a safe opportunity to pass.
A bicycle should be operated as close to the right side of the road as
practical and safe
. However, cyclists are expected to use turn lanes.
Merge safely with bicycle traffic when turning. Do not make right
turns across the path of bicycle traffic.
It is common for an experienced
cyclist to reach speeds of 20-30 miles per hour and be closer
than you think.

Continue reading "Passing a bicycle: Here's the rules" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:39 PM | | Comments (10)

May 7, 2010

Family member of bicycle crash victim responds

My Getting There column last Monday in the print edition of The Sun, concerning the need to respect the rights of bicyclists on the road, received one of the strongest responses since the column began.

 Many were from motorists who vigorously disagreed and who essentially pointted to bicyclists as miscreants who needllessly clog the roadways. But other, more favorable responses came from bicyclists and from the family members of bicyclists who were killed in collisions with motor vehicles.

Here's one email, from Fran Leonard of Elkridge, that I though was worth passing on:

Thank you for your article 'Sharing the road with bicycles is hardly a hardship'.   My children's father/step father was struck and KILLED by a driver of a four wheeled vehicle on May 4th, 2006 and died the next day.  He was KILLED by someone who has never been caught or punished for this CRIME.  SHAME on the people who feel riding a bike is inferior to them driving a car, van, truck or whatever other thing it is they drive.  They have no respect for others much less themselves or else they would be more considerate.  They are bigoted, self righteous people who think only of themselves.  Our grandchildren will never know the love and compassion he had for his family and others.  He never hurt anyone and he surely didn't deserve to die that way.  The person/persons who ran him down had to have known they hit someone or something didn't even stop, if they had he may still be alive today.  It doesn't matter why bicyclist ride on bikes, whether it's to go to work, out of need, pleasure or a Lance Armstrong wantabe.  They deserve to be on the road as much as anyone else.


Continue reading "Family member of bicycle crash victim responds" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:48 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bicycles

May 6, 2010

Bike bills get warm reception at City Hall hearing

A package of bills intended to promote bicycling in Baltimore received a generally favorable reception from a City Council's Community Development subcommittee at a well-attended hearing this afternoon.

For the most part, ciity  agencies were supportive of the five-bill package, though some suggested amendments. Several dozen bicyclists attended  to show support and to offer suggestions for relatively minor tweaks to be bills.

Subcommittee Chairman William Cole said one of the measures, a bill that would require certain developments to include a minimum number of secure places to park bicycles, had to be pulled from the agenda because it involves zoning issues that have to be advertised in advance. He said that bill will be rescheduled for a subsequent hearing.

The subcommittee agreed to schedule a work session to consider the specific language of amendments to the remaining four bills.

Continue reading "Bike bills get warm reception at City Hall hearing" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:09 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bicycles

April 9, 2010

Bicycle '3-foot-rule' bill advances

A bill that would require that drivers observe a 3-foot buffer zone around bicyclists has emerged from the House Environmental Matters Committee -- potentially giving two-wheel enthusiasts a significant victory this legislative session.

Del. James Malone, chairman of the subcommittee that labored over the Senate-passed bill, said the vote was 18-4. It's expected to come to the House floor Saturday, and it's rare for a bill from that committee to be rejected on the floor.

The legislation is not a done deal, however. It emerged from the committee in an amended  form, which means it will have to go to the Senate for its agreement. With adjournment looming Monday night, any hangup could tank the bill.

Nevertheless, Malone said he is confident the bill will make its way through to enactment.

In more doubt is a bill dealing with when bicyclists must remain on the shoulder of the road. The committee is still grappling with language as the clock ticks down. If it passes, it is likely to do so in the final hours.



Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:59 PM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Bicycles, On the roads

March 16, 2010

LaHood elevates biking, walking to parity with cars

Call it sacrilege. Call it radical. But U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has actually elevated the  bicycle and  the human foot to parity with the automobile in federal transportation policy.

On Monday, LaHood announced what could be -- if it is backed with actual dollars-and-cents policy -- a sea change from the auto-centric bias that has prevailed in federal transportation policy since World War II.

Continue reading "LaHood elevates biking, walking to parity with cars" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:41 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Bicycles

December 30, 2009

Price of a bicyclist's life? $313

The Baltimore Spokes blog reports on the trial of a St. Mary's County motorist who struck and killed a bicyclist she didn't see because she was driving with a partially fogged-up windshield  while searching for a cigarette lighter.

Found guilty of negligent driving, she was  fined $313 including court costs. The judge refused her request that hew lower the fine.


Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:17 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Bicycles

December 23, 2009

Top 10 Md. transportation stories: 2000-2009

Apart from disasters, transportation stories tend to unfold over the course of many years. Some of the ones that garner big headlines at the time will be all but forgotten in a few years time. So in choosing the Top 10 Maryland transportation stories of the past decade, it helps to project forward to 2020 or 2030 and look back at what made a lasting difference.

A little disclosure is in order. I have covered transportation for The Sun since 2004 and before that followed many transportation-related stories as a State House Bureau reporter. So there might be a bias in favor of the stories I covered. (Thanks to my colleague Scott Calvert to reminding me of the Howard Street Tunnel fire, which occurred before my time on the beat.)

With those caveats, I present my top 10 in the bottom-to-top format made wildly popular by David Letterman:

10. Light rail double-tracking project completed. When Baltimore's light rail system opened early in the 1990s, it soon became clear that the system had been built on the cheap. The decision to run trains on a single track over long stretches led to constant delays and operational difficulties. Thus, under the Glendening administration, the decision was made to add a second track. The Ehrlich administration then made a tough decision to expedite the work by closing down the southern and northern stretches of the system for periods of about a year. It was a rough time for light rail users, but the project was finally completed in early 2006, and the result has been much more reliable service on this still image-impaired system.


                                                                                                 Sun photo/Amy Davis/2006      

Continue reading "Top 10 Md. transportation stories: 2000-2009" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 7:33 AM | | Comments (7)

December 14, 2009

Should MARC allow bikes on board?



Sun photo/Amy Davis            

There's an interesting article -- followed by a spirited discussion -- on the Greater Greater Washington blog about the wisdom of allowing bicycles on MARC trains.

As much as I like bikes and bicyclists, I'm skeptical. I tend to consider worst-case scenarios and I can't help but think that having bicycles on a rail car such as the one above -- without having a safe place to secure them -- could be a real safety hazard in the case of a derailment. In a crowded car, they could become an obstruction; in an uncrowded car, I can see them becoming a missile.

Instead, I would propose a solution employed by one gentleman of my acquaintance. He rides a bicycle to Penn Station and parks it there, takes the train down to Greenbelt, picks up a second bicycle that he keeps there and pedals to his workplace.

Cost should not be a big issue for most riders. Anyone can pick up a used second bike for a fraction of the cost of a new one through the print or online classified ads. Rather than lobby to get bikes on trains, bicyclists ought to concentrate their efforts on getting safe, secure bike lockers at each station.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 7:00 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Bicycles, MARC train

October 25, 2009

Councilwoman suggests bike lane innovation

City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke floated an interesting notion Sunday as she took part  in a neighborhood event in Roland Park.

Noting that the city is planning to repave Roland Avenue, she suggested that transportation officials install a two-way bicycle lane immediately adjacent to the curb, with a parking lane just to the left.

The idea, she said, is that the lane of parked cars would serve as a buffer between bike riders and the cars in the travel lanes. Clarke said the idea has already been tested in New York and Montreal. The bicyclists who were gathered nearby seemed to think that was a good idea.

So what do you say, two-wheelers and parallel parkers? Is the councilwoman on to something or has she just  slipped a gear?

Coincidentally, the Greater  Greater Washington blog is reporting that District officials are considering a similar idea for 15th St. N.W. GGW has a lot of good graphics that help explain the concept.



Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:00 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bicycles

October 21, 2009

'Sunday Streets' concept to get road test

Roland Park will be the site Sunday of the first  field test of a concept known as "Sunday Streets," in which a main drag is given over  to pedestrians, bicyclists, skateboarders and other non-motorized traffic for a few hours on the weekend.

The Roland Park Civic League is working with other sponsors, including One Less Car and the Inn at the Colonnade, to  test a concept that has  its origins in Colombia.

Continue reading "'Sunday Streets' concept to get road test" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:02 PM | | Comments (0)

Bike rights task force up for hearing

The Baltimore City Council will hold a hearing on a bill to create an "Equal Rights for Bikes" task force Friday at 12:30 p.m. A respectable turnout of two-wheel advocates is anticipated.
Posted by Michael Dresser at 9:52 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bicycles

October 19, 2009

Reconciling bicycles and traffic laws

Christopher Beam has an interesting article in Slate Magazine on bicycling and traffic laws. He takes a while getting to the point, but comes down in a place where I can agree with him.

His proposal to adopt the "Idaho stop" -- under which bicyclists can treat a stop sign as a yield sign -- makes sense to me. The argument that the role of momentum is different for a bicycle and a motor vehicle rings true. (I wouldn't extend that logic to stoplights because they're generally deployed at higher-speed, higher-volume intersections.)

So does his proposal that police crack down on more dangerous two-wheel misbehavior such as riding the wrong way on one-way streets. This particular assault on traffic laws is an epidemic in Baltimore.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 9:51 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Bicycles

August 12, 2009

Tour du Port event set for October


One Less Car will hold its 16th annual Tour du Port bicycle ride on Sunday Oct. 4 starting at Canton Waterfront park.

The event offers a choice of routes ranging from 12 to 52 miles. Proceeds go toward supporting the group's pro-transit, pro-bicycle agenda.

Rides begin at 7:30 a.m. The cost ranges from $35 for those who register before Aug. 18 to $60 for those who register the day of the event.

 Riders can register at

Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:33 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bicycles

August 7, 2009

Baltimore bicyclist has his say


"ghost bike" for John R. Yates
Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun photo

Every once and a while I get an email that's worth a blog post of its own. This, written by Baltimore bicyclist Jeffrey Marks, is one of them:

After returning from a wonderful bicycle trip in the bicycle friendly cities of Seattle WA and  Victoria, BC; I was saddened by the tragic death of long time bicyclist John Yates.  Yes, it appears John was riding on Maryland Ave where many motorists expect bicyclists to ride - as far right as possible -  when he collided with a truck making a righthand turn onto Lafayette Ave.  However, from  personal experience of having nearly had a similar tragic accident on Charles Street when bicycling close to parked cars; I find it safer to take the lane, rather than ride as far right as possible. Speed limits are low to moderate, and overtaking traffic can use the passing lane.  My behaving like a vehicle encourages right turning motorists to treat me like one by slowing down, signaling, moving behind me or to my right near the curb, and turning right when safe. - rather than being tempted to rush by and cut me off.

Continue reading "Baltimore bicyclist has his say" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:18 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Bicycles

June 1, 2009

Mayor Dixon talks transportation

I had the opportunity to sit down with Mayor Sheila Dixon to talk about transportation issues, It's a topic very close to the heart of the mayor, an avid  bicyclist who uses her rides around the city to get an up-close look at Baltimore infrastructure.

Some topics:

Speed cameras: Dixon expressed relief that a petition drive aimed at invalidating a law passed  by the General Assembly expandig the use of speed cameras failed. She said the city has a serious problem with speeding and not enough officers to enforce traffic laws.

Roundabouts: The mayor said she, too, finds the Towson rounabout confusing, even though her administration is looking at creating six of them to replace busy interchanges. She said she got a good look at the possible benefits of such traffic circles during a trip to Chicago. Dixon said she especially likes the opportunity to create green space in the  center  of the roundabouts.

Red Line: Dixon restated her backing for Red Line Alternative 4C -- a light rail system running in a tunnel under Cooks Lane and through downtown and Fells Point  but on the surface in Canton and Edmondson Village. But she said she understands the concerns of residents of the affected neighborhoods. She said the existing north-south light rail system down Howard Street -- built with the state-of-the-art technology of the early 1990s -- has colored people's opinions about the Red Line.

"People look at it like it's the light rail and it's not not," she  said. Dixon said  newer light rail technology is much quieter and will blend in better with the communities it serves. "People can't vision it the way we plan it to be."

The City that Paves: Despite severe recession-related budget cuts, the mayor said the city is still on track to repave 220 lane-miles this year. 

Stimulus money: Dixon said it's out on the street right now, paying for the resurfacing of Northern Parkway and Orleans Street.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                




Posted by Michael Dresser at 1:52 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bicycles, For policy wonks only, Light rail, On the roads, Red Line

May 27, 2009

Wilson Bridge biker-hiker trail to open

A 1.1-mile bicycle and pedestrian trail crossing the Potomac River between Prince George's County and Alexandria, Va., is scheduled to open on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Saturday, June 6, at 1 p.m. Registration is required, and there's no jumping the gun.

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association, City of Alexandria, Fairfax County, Oxon Hill Bicycle and Trail Club and Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission are turning it into an organized free event, with bicyclists taking off in convoys. It sounds as if it could interest some Baltimore-area folks.

Click here for the details.



Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:13 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bicycles

May 13, 2009

Bike to Work registration

Bike-to-Work is Friday, and participants can register with the local sponsor, the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, here to be eligible for giveaways, T-shirts refreshments and other perks.

If you're going to ride to work on two wheels, you might as well collect your swag. Sorry, the council's out of tire gauges, but there are plenty of flashing safety lights.


Posted by Michael Dresser at 12:24 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bicycles
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About Michael Dresser
Michael Dresser has been an editor, reporter and columnist with The Sun longer than Baltimore's had a subway. He's covered retailing, telecommunications, state politics and wine. Since 2004, he's been The Sun's transportation writer. He lives in Ellicott City with his wife and travel companion, Cindy.

His Getting There column appears on Mondays. Mike's blog will be a forum for all who are interested in highways, transit and other transportation issues affecting Baltimore, Maryland and the region.

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