Baltimore Bicycle Injury News: Could Several Feet Help to Reduce Cycling Injury Accidents in Maryland?

Now that Maryland’s weather is getting better, it would appear that bicycle season is in full swing. Spring is a wonderful time, but dangers are always present when riding on public roads, especially heavily trafficked thoroughfares. My office handles numerous injury accidents every year, a percentage of those represent bicycle-car and bike-truck crashes.

One thing I’ve learned practicing in this area: You can never, ever be too cautious. The lack of protection when cycling is evident by the frequent stories of bicycling enthusiasts who are occasionally injured or killed in traffic accidents. My suggestion to anyone contemplating riding in the city or other congested roadway is to assume nobody sees you on your bike.

Maybe in the future laws will be tightened in favor of the even increasing population of bicycle riders, but until then I also remind motorists — as a Baltimore automobile accident aattorney –to be vigilant and watch out for cyclists at all times, especially in the warmer weather. Recently an editorial appeared in the Baltimore Sun suggesting that bikes get a little extra room from the four-wheeled neighbors.

According to the author, Maryland should seriously consider adopting the so-called Three-foot Rule, which could make the roads safer for everyone. This call follows an observation that many cycling fans find riding a bike much too danger for their taste.

Does riding a bicycle really have to be so dangerous? One suggestion to bring a balance back to the car-versus-bike equation is adding bike lanes. There are, says the writer, a number of simple legislative options that can go further than road markings would.

Adopting the three-foot safe-passing distance law is one such approach that is under consideration (H.B. 461) in the Maryland General Assembly. Sponsored by Delegate Jon Cardin, at the time of the article it was stalled in the Environmental Matters Committee. Apparently the co-chair of that committee, Delegate James Malone, opposed a nearly identical bill last year mainly over concerns of enforceability.

The author points out the genius of this legal option, which requires no dedicated funding and would mandate that motorists give three feet between themselves and a cyclist under most circumstances (unless there is already a bike lane one the road or if the cyclist isn’t following certain state requirements).

Can it work? According to the article, 14 states and the District already have versions of the law currently in effect. There are numerous pros and cons, but if lives could be saved and injuries reduced, why not consider it?

To make our roads safer for bicycles, Maryland should adopt the ‘3-foot’ rule,, March 21, 2010

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