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Bubble bill one step closer to being law?

Re: Bubble bill one step closer to being law?

Barry Childress wrote:

In other words "but the cyclist swerved" would be a codified legal excuse as would be "but the cyclists was not riding as far right as possible."

Barry: Given that this is a seriously defective bubble bill, do you think cyclists should support it or work against it? 

There is the argument that a bad bubble bill will take all of the momentum away for a good bubble bill, where what we need is a good bubble bill--without the codified exceptions--that really protects cyclists.

After all, if this weak/bad bubble bill passes both houses and is signed into law this year, will there be ANYONE in the legislature--Senate or House--who would push for yet another bubble bill next year? Won't they brush off ALL cycling advocates next year (including OLC--hey Carol, what do you think?) by saying "We gave you a bubble bill last year. What more do you want?

If this current bubble bill, a small improvement over where we are that can be built on in the future or a fake piece of legislation which actually sets us back?

What is your wisdom here?  And what does anyone else think?  (I definitely think that there is no cause for celebration here, but rather a case where we need sober reflection on this piece of legislation.)

Ed Hopkins

Ed Hopkins
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Re: Bubble bill one step closer to being law?

I'll mention first that I just got word that Malone (House Environmental Matters Chair) is looking to put an amendment on the bill (just hearsay at the moment.) Odds are that it will be something we really don't like even though the current wording was meant to appease his concerns. So it looks like we might have a graceful way out by opposing the amendment and it dying by the hands of the Environmental Matters Committee as usual.

My personal point of view is in a conservative state like MD it should be standard practice to follow the lead in other states and not go and try and improve on standard wording. But we are put between a rock and a hard place in that basically we have one rep that does not agree with this and thinks he knows better then everyone else and can block most of our bills. So do we at least try to get something that is better then nothing through or keep banging our head against a brick wall?

This is a hard question to answer and in a lot of ways I applaud OLC's processes this year to reach a decision on this even though I personally disagree with the outcome. Many people who I consider peers thought this is a good way to go so I am in the minority opinion here so take what I say with a grain of salt.

While I consider myself a safe and courteous cyclists there are points in the law I willfully disobey for my safety, a strong case in point is I will not ride far right in a lane where right turns are authorized (law only allows my position in right turn ONLY lanes.) So while my road position would not have been where Jack Yates was but his position was in accordance to the letter of the law and he was still found at fault and I really don't think this law would have helped change who was at fault in this case. 

On the flip side ~2/3 of cycling fatalities are mid-block. While this definition includes turns in and out of driveways there could be a net benefit at least in who is at fault in a cyclist fatality.

Being in the minority view I am very reluctant to advise, so you all are intelligent people so follow what you think.

This years bill: http://mlis.state.md.us/2010rs/bills/sb/sb0051t.pdf
Last years bill: http://mlis.state.md.us/2009rs/bills/sb/sb0428t.pdf
Note: All cap bolded text is the additions. Brackets [] indicated deletions.

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Re: Bubble bill one step closer to being law?

Over on BBCTalk Baxter S. elaborated on the amended text:

"... Additionally, the bill makes it clear that the driver of a motor vehicle would not be held responsible if the bicyclist infringes upon the three foot buffer by failing to ride to the right side of the road or maintain a steady course."


The question is what will "to the right side of the road" mean to an officer?  How many times has a driver driven by you when you were riding within inches of the fog line with no acceptable shoulder (which is defined by the state to be wide enough to park a car on) and the driver yelled at you to get off the road.  Certainly if that same driver ended up sideswiping you he would claim you were "failing to ride to the right side of the road".  If an officer was not wise enough to ask exactly where the cyclist was riding (and the motorist did not lie) or the same was asked of a witness it's not clear to me if anything could be enforced under most conditions.

And Barry's already addressed the discrepancy issues.  What if I move to the left to make a left turn and while waiting get rear ended?  Certainly am not on the right but exactly where I am supposed to be by another law.

To me, enforceability is greatly compromised by this amendment.  If the law does not act on the primary accident and fatality cases (right hook comes to mind) then what's the point?

Not completely related but I'd like to know if anyone knew if any cycling advocacy groups have considered offering to pay for officer training if it included accurate and complete instruction to the local cycling laws.  Something I'd consider contributing to.

~Ride safe, ride hard!~
cctrekker@gmail.com

Terry Harrigan
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Re: Bubble bill one step closer to being law?

cctrekker wrote:

Over on BBCTalk Baxter S. elaborated on the amended text:

"... Additionally, the bill makes it clear that the driver of a motor vehicle would not be held responsible if the bicyclist infringes upon the three foot buffer by failing to ride to the right side of the road or maintain a steady course."


The question is what will "to the right side of the road" mean to an officer?  ...

Indeed there is a problem how laws are put into the vernacular, as far right as practicable and safe unless ... the lane is too narrow to share just becomes: "Cyclists must ride as far right as practical" or in this case it could very well be incorrectly reduced to "by failing to ride to the right side of the road " missing it is the subtitle "Riding to Right Side of the Roadway" which has all the exceptions in it.

Anyway till we get mandatory police training this will continue to be a problem with law officers but should be less of a problem in the courts. The "Safe Cycling In Maryland" handbook produced by MDOT (currently out of print) Has a section on what to do when the Police get the laws wrong. It's just sad that this is such a common occurrence for cyclists that they have to give us tools how to deal with it. 

I will note that there is one state where they do sting operations enforcing this law where they put down a chalk line for 3' safe passing distance and have an under cover officer ride the route who radio's to a waiting patrol car any offenders that crossed the chalk line.

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