Prince Frederick, MD – Bicycle riders in Southern Maryland appear determined to accept the risks and travel the roads that the law says belong to them, too. There is no doubt either that bicycle travel is risky. Last Halloween two Montgomery County residents traveling on a tandem were struck by a vehicle on Tobacco Road in the Chesapeake Beach/Huntingtown area. Both riders were ejected from the bike and sustained fatal injuries.
Three days into 2016, a St. Mary’s County man was killed when he bicycle was struck at an intersection.
Both incidents sparked discussions on social media, with motorists who do not share the enthusiasm that bike riders have for traveling the region’s roadways.
According to data compiled by the Maryland Department of Transportation, crashes involving bicyclists and pedalcyclists in Maryland are increasing. The department only has statistics going up to 2013. “Between 2009 and 2013, Maryland saw an average of 738 bicycles and pedalcycle-involved crashes each year,” MDOT officials stated. “More than 80 percent of the crashes resulted in a death or injury.”
State officials added that while there was a slight decline in injury crashes, “fatalities resulting from bicycle and pedalcycle crashes increased in 2013.”
While rural areas such as Southern Maryland can be hazardous, the data shows that far and away, the Baltimore Metropolitan area leads other locations in bike crashes. The Washington Metropolitan Region is a distant second—Charles County is included in this group. Calvert and St. Mary’s are part of MDOT’s “all others” categories, which had less that 15 percent of the bike crashes during a 5-year period.
“Both bicyclists and motorists need to work together to be safe on the road,” MDOT officials stated. “Bicycles are considered vehicles in Maryland, so bicyclists must devote as much attention to riding a bike as they would when operating a vehicle, equally as important, motorists must allow cyclists the same respect and caution they would allow another vehicle. Motorists can safely share the road with bicyclists by maintaining a three-foot gap when passing a bicyclist, stopping for cyclists in crosswalks and being alert when making turns. Wearing a helmet properly, being visible, and being alert and aware of surroundings are a few ways that bicyclists can be safer when riding.”
One measure of the law motorized vehicle drivers should always remember is that “the bicycle has the right-of-way when the motor vehicle is making a turn, and motorists must yield to bicyclists.” Failing to yield the right-of-way to a bicyclist, resulting in a crash in which the bicyclist is seriously injured can result in a “1,000 fine and three points on a driving record.
Bicyclists should also familiarize themselves with state laws. Bicycles and motor scooters are not permitted on any roads where the speed limit is 50 mph or higher. Cyclists may operate on the shoulder of a roadway where the posted speed limit exceeds 50 mph unless otherwise prohibited. Helmets are required for everyone under the age of 16. The helmets must meet or exceed the standards of the American National Standards Institute, the Snell Memorial Foundation or the ASTM International.
For more details on how to properly “share the road” visit the MDOT’s State Highway Administration’s web site at www.sha.maryland.gov for more information.
Contact Marty Madden at email@example.com