Feb 072014
 
Share the Budget with Bikes!

On January 15th, County Executive Ike Leggett released his recommended 2015 Capital Budget and 2015-2020 Capital Improvements Program (CIP), aka the 2015-2020 Capital Budget.  It identifies capital project funding over the six year period starting with Fiscal year 2015 (which begins July 1, 2014).   The first two years of the budget, 2015 and 2016, are the ones to watch.  The other four years are “out-years” which represent intentions or best guesses but may change significantly.  The capital budget is re-crafted every two years.  It is amended during the other years or any other time as needed.  “Capital” projects essentially involve building, creating or designing things – as opposed to operating and maintaining things which is the purview of the Operating […]

 Posted by at 3:35 am on Feb 7, 2014  Comments Off on Share the Budget with Bikes!
Jan 182014
 

County Councilmembers Roger Berliner and Hans Riemer have introduced a council bill to change county road standards in urban areas to better serve pedestrians and bicyclists.  Bill 33-13 seeks to 1) reduce car speeds, thereby making pedestrians and bicyclists safer, 2) stipulate certain road features to improve pedestrian safety and access, especially at crosswalks, and 3) better accommodate new technology including bike sharing.  Roger Berliner briefly summarizes the bill here. Whenever roads are rebuilt or in some cases resurfaced, engineers can choose from a toolkit of improvements designed to make urban areas safer for biking and walking.  The tools include everything from curb extensions (aka bulbouts or neckdowns) that make crosswalks shorter to HAWK beacons that blink when a pedestrian […]

Feb 282013
 

These two bills were rejected by the Maryland House Environmental Matters Committee, which means they’re effectively dead for this year: House Bill 445, which would have removed the “narrow highway” exception to Maryland’s three-foot safe passing statute enacted in 2010 (interpreted by some to mean that drivers don’t have to give three feet if it would mean crossing the centerline).  See the CycleMoco discussion of this bill here. House Bill 160, which would have legalized riding bikes on sidewalks in localities with no local laws on the subject. Montgomery, Prince George’s and Howard counties and Baltimore city all have local laws. Some jurisdictions, including Gaithersburg, have local laws prohibiting sidewalk riding and this bill wouldn’t change that. Jim Titus provides details […]

 Posted by at 11:30 pm on Feb 28, 2013  Comments Off on Maryland bills changing three-foot law & sidewalk law defeated in House of Delegates
Feb 162013
 

The Maryland legislature is considering House Bill 445 which would strengthen the flawed “three foot” law enacted last year in 2010.  The flaws in the existing law make it important that the law be fixed.  Briefly, here are the main problems: Drivers often won’t know if they have to give three feet or not.  The three foot law doesn’t apply if the cyclist isn’t where he’s supposed to be in the roadway (in the bike lane, to the right, wherever).  But the rules governing where cyclists are supposed to be within the roadway are complicated, dependent on conditions, and not fully understood by anyone except bike advocates (if even them).  How are drivers to know what they’re not allowed to […]

 Posted by at 10:34 pm on Feb 16, 2013  Comments Off on Pushing for a better 3-foot passing law in Maryland
Feb 112013
 

By popular demand, here is the City of Cyclists video showing bicyclists in Copenhagen! Most cyclists in Copenhagen do not wear helmets, yet fatalities on a per rider basis are much lower than in the United States.  The Danish are concerned that requiring bike helmets would only discourage cycling. In Copenhagen, 36% of all commuting trips are by bike. The more bicyclists there are, the more drivers learn to expect (and respect) them. Unfortunately, the Maryland General Assembly is considering a bill that would require all cyclists to wear helmets. This would surely kill BikeShare in Montgomery County as well as reduce the level of bike use overall, especially trips to transit.

 Posted by at 10:30 pm on Feb 11, 2013  Comments Off on Copenhagen’s “City of Cyclists” video
Feb 112013
 
Maryland's mandatory helmet law a disaster for biking

A bill before the Maryland House of Delegates would require everyone riding a bike to wear a helmet, no matter how short their trip.    If the bill passes, it would probably kill BikeShare and do a great deal to discourage cycling.  Capital BikeShare, now coming to Montgomery County, is inducing the county to invest in more bike infrastructure and will allow many more bike trips. The county’s transit oriented communities (including Bicycle and Pedestrian Priority Areas designated by the state) rely on bicycling and walking to reduce traffic.  But this bill would undermine it all. Update on April 25 2013: The bill did not pass. Do Maryland legislators really think they know more about bicycling than the Danish and […]

Jun 292012
 

On Friday, Congress will did vote on a “compromise” transportation reauthorization bill that would does drastically cut funds provided to local jurisdictions for bike and pedestrian projects.  I assume regret to say that the bill will did pass. According to America Bikes: Congress will vote on a new transportation bill that reverses years of progress on biking and walking policy and cuts by 60 to 70 percent funding for local safety projects such as sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike lanes. There’s more from that synopsis here.  Here is their detailed analysis. Prior years’ transportation bills always included funding for “transportation enhancements”.  That’s funding provided by the federal government to the states who in turn are required to award it to local […]

 Posted by at 2:42 am on Jun 29, 2012  Comments Off on New federal transportation bill slashes biking and walking funds
Mar 092012
 
U.S. Senate Transportation Bill amended to include biking/walking funds

Dedicated federal funding for biking and walking has been under assault this year in Congress.    Some Republican lawmakers have tried to eliminate the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program, the Safe Routes to Schools program, and the Recreational Trails program from the transportation reauthorization bill ( HR 7).  The TE program has funded the extremely useful Bethesda Trolley Trail bridges and the Rock Creek Trail bridge over Veirs Mill Rd.  Without this money many states would drastically cut bike/ped projects.  James Inhofe (R-OK), the lead Republican negotiator on the bill, declared that one of his top priorities for the transportation bill is to eliminate “frivolous spending for bike trails.” But things are looking up!  The Senate has accepted the Cardin-Cochran Amendment to its […]

 Posted by at 11:14 am on Mar 9, 2012  Comments Off on U.S. Senate Transportation Bill amended to include biking/walking funds
Nov 082011
 

Gaithersburg bike advocate Alan Migdall wrote a great letter in the Washington Post supporting the federal Transportation Enhancements (TE)  program.    This vital program provides money to  states for new bike paths, pedestrian facilities, historical preservation,  etc.    The text of Alan’s letter: Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) opposes using a small portion of transportation funding for pedestrian and bicycle projects [news story, Oct. 25 ]. He was quoted: “I know priorities are in the eye of the beholder, but what we lack is common sense.”  Given that 14 percent of all traffic fatalities are pedestrians and cyclists and that states often underfund sidewalks and bike lanes, one would think that spending at least 1 or 2 percent of transportation funding on “enhancements” that address […]

 Posted by at 6:29 pm on Nov 8, 2011  Comments Off on Federal funding of bike/ped improvements