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Maryland’s New Bicycling Laws

Posted By Regan Zambri & Long || 8-Oct-2010

Posted by Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member

Although many drivers are aware of the new cell phone law for drivers that Maryland adopted on October 1, fewer may know about the new bicycling laws that also are now in effect.  Below are summaries of the major elements of the new laws:

Senate Bill 51:

  • "Requires a driver of a vehicle to safely overtake a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device (EPAMD), or a motor scooter at a distance of at least three feet, unless at the time, the bicycle, EPAMD,or motor scooter rider fails to ride to the right side of the roadway, comply with a requirement to ride in a bike lane or shoulder, or maintain a steady course.
  • The passing rule under the bill also does not apply if the highway on which the vehicle is being driven is not wide enough to lawfully pass the bicycle, EPAMD, or motor scooter at a distance of at least three feet."

Senate Bill 624 :

  • "Repeals the general requirement that a bicycle operator use the shoulder if it is safe and paved to a smooth surface.
  • Specifies that, in a place where a person may ride a bicycle on a sidewalk, a person may ride from the curb or edge of the roadway in or through a crosswalk to the opposite curb or edge. The definition of “crosswalk” is expanded to mean the connection of lateral lines of a bicycle way where a bicycle way and roadway of any type meet as measured from the curbs or the edges of the roadway.
  • Requires vehicle operators to yield the right-of-way to bicyclists riding in bike lanes and shoulders when these vehicle operators are entering or crossing occupied bike lanes and shoulders."

So, what exactly do these new laws mean for drivers and cyclists?  According to Peter Moe, the Maryland State Highway Administration’s Bicycle Safety Coordinator, the new laws provide more rights to cyclists in using the highways, but also increase the responsibilities for cyclists.  "You can and should expect to see bicyclists on any roadway, apart from interstates. Bikes are considered a legal vehicle, and have a right to the roadway. But, cyclists have responsibilities that come along with those rights: they are required to obey all traffic laws. And yes, that means stopping at red lights and at stop signs. That’s really for everyone’s benefit: for the cyclist and the motorist." 

The new laws are expected to reduce the number of cycling accidents because the predictability of what can be expected from both the bicyclist and the motorist.  As I have advocated in so many of my previous posts, all users of the roads, whether drivers, bicyclists or pedestrians, must be aware of the other users of roads and respect their rights. Maryland’s Choose Safety for Life Campaign provides further information regarding bicycle safety as well as other highway safety strategies.

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About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. He has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as "one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in personal injury matters, including automobile accident claims, premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and work-accident claims. He has successfully litigated multiple cases against truck and bus companies, the Washington Metropolitan Area transit Authority, and other automobile owners.  His law firm, in fact, has obtained the largest settlement ever in a personal injury case involving WMATA.  Mr. Zambri has also been acknowledged as one of "The Best Lawyers in America" by Best Lawyers (2011 edition) and has been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by Law and Politics magazine (March/April 2010)– national publications that honor the top lawyers in America.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.

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