There are proposals being put forward that could go a long way toward increasing the number of bicycling enthusiasts who choose Baltimore as their home. Of course, with an increase in bikes, there will also be an inevitable increase in cycling accidents, including car-bike collisions, severe truck-bicycle wrecks and even fatal traffic accidents involving bicycles, as well as bike-pedestrian crashes.
As a Maryland personal injury lawyer handling bicycle accident cases, I and my colleagues know the pain and suffering that can accompany a bike-auto traffic collision. Unfortunately, the laws of physics are on the side of the automobile, which means cyclists must be on their game 110 percent if they want to survive in an urban traffic setting.
According to news reports, Baltimore’s city counsel is looking to make Baltimore streets safer for cyclists, and in doing so encourage a whole new group of potential resident to make this city their home.
Of course, it’s well known that Baltimore’s congested and pothole-ridden streets pose many hazards to cyclists. Numerous bikers have been hit or forced off the road by negligent motorists. Even drivers who care about cyclists don’t always consider these smaller two-wheeled vehicles due to a lack of bicycle awareness programs.
Still, a number of laws have been proposed recently by City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke that are aimed at encouraging more people to travel by bike while also making our city streets safer for bicycle riders. This would seem to be all for the best since cycling is great for the environment and great for a person’s health. Many younger people enjoy biking, which is one reason that the Clarke feels Baltimore could become a “bicycling city.”
Initiatives include creating lanes exclusively for bikes, requiring bike parking facilities at workplaces and new buildings, and adopting a “complete streets” philosophy to include the needs of cyclists and the safey of pedestrians in road projects.
One of the easiest and most beneficial change that has been proposed is altering the orientation of sewer grates. Currently, many or all grates run parallel to flow of traffic, which can cause a bike’s wheel to become caught in the gap and flip a rider. The law would require the openings to run perpendicular so that wheels can roll over them without incident.
According to news articles, many of these proposed measures have been inspired by the unfortunate death of John R. “Jack” Yates, a 67-year-old cycling enthusiast who suffered fatal injuries when his bike became entangled in the rear wheels of a truck. Yates was an activist who counseled young people and collaborated with Councilwoman Clarke on various community projects in the past.
The measures, which will be aired during City Council hearings in February, will reportedly dovetail with Baltimore’s 2006 bike master plan, according to city’s transportation department, which oversees bike and pedestrian planning.
Proposals seek to encourage more cyclists and to make Baltimore streets safer for them, BaltimoreSun.com, December 27, 2009