Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

New bike laws in effect in Maryland today

October 1, 2010 - 01:30 PM
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(Heather Farrell)

Enjoy your new buffer, cyclists. As of today, Maryland law now guarantees you a comfy three feet (in most cases*) when cars are trying to pass you. And you're no longer required to ride on the shoulder of the road just because it's paved.

You've also been given crosswalk privileges in areas where bikes are allowed on the sidewalk.

* Cars don't have to give you the three feet if you're not riding on the right side of the road or if there's a designated bike lane and you're not in it.

Summaries of the new laws after the jump.

From the Maryland State Highway Administration:

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 bicyclist use the shoulder if it is a paved smooth surface. Senate Bill 624 also 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 bill alters the definition of “bicycle” by repealing provisions that specify that a bicycle must have a rear drive and a specified wheel configuration and establishes instead that a bicycle is a vehicle that (1) is designed to be operated by human power; (2) has two or three wheels, with one being more than 14 inches in diameter; and (3) has a drive mechanism other than by pedals directly attached to a drive wheel. 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. The law also 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 the occupied bike lanes or shoulder.

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