Bike Maryland 2020

Monday, February 24, 2020

by Leslie Tierstein

The 2020 Bike Maryland Symposium was held in Annapolis on Wednesday, February 20. I went (even though it meant driving most of the way!) and am glad I did. The symposium informs attendees about bike-related legislation and other activities in the state of Maryland and gives the attendees the opportunity to lobby their state delegates and senators, furnishing the legislators an up-close look at how the legislation affects their voters, and gauging (urging?) their support for these bills. For people new to advocacy, lobbying or activism, or unfamiliar with the issues being addressed, the symposium this year included excellent materials for the attendees to bone up both on the issues and on effective ways to lobby.

The emphasis this year was on two bills:
  • Safe Pass. Maryland has a 3-foot passing law. This bill would make it legal for drivers to maintain that 3-foot distance even if it means crossing a double-yellow line. This is already the behavior of most drivers when passing a slower moving vehicle with sufficient sight lines to ensure safety, so this bill is a welcome addition to Maryland law.  
  • Vulnerable Road User (VRU). This bill creates a civil penalty for vehicular crashes that involve anyone not in a vehicle. It fills a gap in Maryland law between a civil violation “unsafe operation of a vehicle”, which only entails a fine, and criminal charges from negligent (or worse) driving behavior by mandating a court appearance.
 
Good to see that the law can better take into account current driving and bicycling practices.
 
The symposium included other activities in addition to legislative briefing and lobbying. There was a special recognition for Kim Lamphier and her dedication to advocacy. Rachael Maney of Bike Law (https://bikelaw.com) was the keynote speaker with an excellent address on “Influencing the Conservation on Bicycle Safety”, and comments on the current status of law enforcement regarding bicyclists and bicycling. She and Bike Law have been helping Javier Lopez down in Florida, a case that has been publicized in Bicycling magazine (https://www.bicycling.com/news/a30912642/teen-arrested-cycling-florida/) and elsewhere.
 
I saw people at the session from Maryland-based bike clubs and advocacy groups, including Oxon Hill Bike and Trail Club, Baltimore Bike Club, Annapolis Bike Club, Bike AAA (Bicycle Advocates for Annapolis and Anne Arundel county), Howard County, and probably many more whose names escape me. (In fact, Baltimore Bike Club was a co-sponsor of the symposium.) Did I miss any PPTC members?

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