Bicycle Safety on Highways Focus of Task Force

Task Force to Study Bicycle Safety on MD Highways, MGA Legislative Session 2017

The Maryland General Assembly passed HB 192 which established the Task Force to Study Bicycle Safety on Maryland Highways.  The bill was sponsored by Delegate Stephen Lafferty (D, Baltimore County) and passed the House by a vote of 136-3, with Delegates Parrott, Rey, and Wivell opposing. The bill made it through the Senate with 46-0 vote on the floor.

The Task Force must study safety issues related to bicycle operators and vehicles on state highways make recommendations on the following issues and report on them to the Governor and the General Assembly by December 31, 2017:

  • appropriate operation of bicycles and motor vehicles on highways;
  • adequacy of the current and future capacity and use of bike lanes, bike paths, and protected cycle tracks;
  • implementation of Complete Streets strategies related to facilitating safe travel for bicyclists;
  • the role of traffic control devices in bicycle safety;
  • bicycle safety public education and outreach;
  • potential funding sources to support and encourage the safe operation of bicycles in the state;
  • the effects of bike lanes, bike paths, and protected cycle tracks on street parking and pedestrian and vehicular traffic flow;
  • best practices for ensuring access to retail, residential, commercial and other points of interest adjacent to bike lanes, bike paths, and protected cycle tracks; and
  • the siting of utilities and other infrastructure along bike lanes, bike paths, and protected cycle tracks.

The Maryland Department of Transportation must provide staff for the task force, which will go into effect on June 1, 2017 and terminate May 31, 2018.

Transportation Trust Fund expenditures will increase minimally in the last month of FY 2017 and in the first half of FY 2018 due to the requirement for a consultant to complete some of the research required under the bill.

Currently, Maryland’s traffic laws apply to bicycles and motor scooters. A cyclist or a person operating a motor scooter may not ride on any roadway where the posted maximum speed limit is more than 50 miles an hour. Where there is not a bike lane paved to a smooth surface, a person operating a bicycle or a motor scooter may use the roadway or the shoulder.

In 2011, a “Complete Streets” initiative was adopted by the State Highway Administration aimed at ensuring safety and connectivity for vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians throughout the state transportation system. The initiative requires all transportation projects to evaluate options for improved bicycle access, including (1) constructing bike lanes on resurfaced roads wherever possible, (2) maintaining minimum shoulder widths of four feet, and (3) retaining existing bicycle accommodations on roads.

The cross-filed bill, SB 142, was sponsored by Senator Roger Manno (D, Montgomery County).