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The article and/or the perspective of the police implies that she would have been at fault if she HAD been riding in the road, or not wearing a helmet.

I have the same concern as SJE. And did the officer really say that he used to "holler" at the deceased for riding on a marked bike path? What's up with that?

One of the major issues in Bowie that might drive someone to bike on this stretch of road (It's hard to tell without knowing where she lived) is the lack of crossings of Rte. 50. The next nearest crossing is a couple of miles west. I encourage anyone to use it, even if it is an extensive detour.

@SJE: Stating that

X=>no fault

does not mean that

not-X=>fault

Recall, however, the initial report that she mysteriously swerved into the lane. Failure to yield right of way when changing lanes does, in fact, often imply fault. That is: Had the driver's self-serving story been true, then the cyclist would have been a fault (though even then the driver might also bear fault for failure to keep a proper lookout).

We all know that the police always like to state whether the cyclist had a helmet because it is their idea of a safety campaign. With no intention of exonerating bad drivers, I wish the police would instead say what kind of lights she had. Parents whose safety advice is discounted might try giving a birthday present of a couple of Dinotte tail lights.

I'd also like to know if there was a passenger in the car. I'm guessing not. Felony charges are very unlikely if driver was sober and carried no passenger.

There is a pedestrian crossing over Rt50 just East of 197.

More likely she would have been getting off Rt3 before Rt50 onto Belair Drive into the residential streets of Bowie. I can not imaging biking through the Rt50/3 interchange to get South of Rt50. No one could do that for as long as she was allegedly biking that route and not get hit. It opens up to four lanes North of Rt50 and drivers are usually going over 60mph, especially if they are Rt50 West bound.

I almost made a comment on the original posting that I'm tired of police issuing statements of fact assigning blame before any investigation has been done.

It shows a marked bias to always blame the cyclist.

Felony charges are very unlikely if driver was sober and carried no passenger.

Indeed. The right to drive remains the right to kill. 2 ironclad defenses are:
1) officer I didn't see the cyclist - they came out of nowhere!
2) officer - the cyclist just suddenly weaved in front of me!

@TWK: Can't you take a right just after Sylvan into Sport Fit and then take the trail through the woods there? Her father seemed to be talking about a bike trail.

THe irony here, is that this is more circuitous than MD-450, which has no bike lane. A year or so ago SHA had the choice of keeping MD-450 with 2 lanes East and 1 lane west; 1 lane in each direction and a suicide lane (though there are few left turns to take) or adding bike lanes. District 3 chose the suicide lane without even consulting SHA's bike-ped coordinator who would have picked the bike lane.

JimT: I am looking at the implication, not a statement of logic.

I agree that felony charges are very hard unless there is booze involved, but here we have a cyclist on a bike path hit by a car. The usual excuses don't work.

Jim,

" fault for failure to keep a proper lookout"

Have traffic statues adopted nautical law? Would be great if they did (and enforced it).

@SJE. I'm not sure what you mean by implication if you don't mean what logically follows. Do you mean "inference that the speaker does not want to say but hopes the listener will draw on his own"?

Regarding felony charges: The usual defense is that the prosecutor has not proven the elements of manslaughter. Why wouldn't that work in this case? How would you prove that the driver knew she might kill someone but did it anyway (if sober and no passengter)?

@Ken. It comes up in the negligence cases in Maryland. Typically, when cyclist is negligent, the driver has to be negligent twice (with the final chance to avoid accident)for cyclist to win. So failure to keep a proper lookout is the first thing cyclist has to prove.

@Jim T

It's true, she could be going through the White Marsh park trail. Technically it is closed at sunset. Not necessarily a good choice for lone rider at night, although I I am not aware of any crime issues in that area. Also rather hilly and twisty.

It would be interesting to know where both points A & B are to better expose the deficiencies of the infrastructure.

It is technically not US Route 301 in this spot, thus the confusion about the location. I posted a link to the Google street view below. This is a very dangerous road for all (cyclist and cars), and I don't think I've ever seen a pedestrian in this location. It's typical to see cars going 75mph or faster on this stretch. Car lanes merge from three to two just before this spot, and it's not uncommon to see drivers racing to be first.

Google Street View

And one more thought. The cyclist might have had a better way home had the two sections of the WB&A trail been linked, although that might have been further out of her way. There are only so many places to cross the Patuxent River from Anne Arundel County into Prince George's County.

JimT: yes.

Bowie Blade reports that Cooper had a front white light and red tail light. Also indicated alcohol was not a factor.

They really need to do something in this case. We have a cyclist riding on a bike path, with lights, and a helmet, and a driver leaves the road and kills her.

In this case "do something" probably means SHA road improvement.

The driver got in under the wire since the negligent homicide bill does not take effect until Oct. 1. I suspect that cruising on the shoulder or passing someone by using the shoulder will qualify as a substantial deviation for criminal negligence, while veering off the road onto the shoulder for no obvious reason will continue to be simple negligence. Senator Frosh was quite clear that the intent of the new bill was not to charge a mom in a minivan who looks back at her children for a moment and kills a cyclist--and cases from other states with the same law are pretty clear on that point.

I filed a complaint last winter to SHA about the restriping on MD-450 that created a suicide lane that no one uses, instead of bike lanes. District 3 failed to consult the SHA bike-ped coordinator or the City of Bowie. Since she was going from Crofton to near Bowie High School, it seems likely that MD-450 would have been her best bet.

The WB&A route over the Patuxent, if built, will be more circuitous--especially with the extra 1-mile detour that AA County wants to follow. And probably closed at night unless the state makes staying open a condition for state funding. And of course there is the question of how one feels about riding on Conway at night. That said, the WB&A extension will almost certainly keep a few people off MD-3.

I sometimes see cyclists in that "suicide lane" on MD-450.

A point of clarification: the article refers to a "bike path" on the shoulder. Wouldn't we normally refer to this as a bike *lane*? Of course, this doesn't make the accident any less tragic or in any way mitigate the responsibility of the driver.

I wondered about that too. Is it even a bike lane, or just a shoulder?

I think it's a really a bike route, with bike chevrons painted on the shoulder.

There is a trail through the park land that Ms. Cooper was possibly using (instead of MD-450) to get from MD-3 to the residential streets of Bowie. Perhaps one of the interviewees referred to that "bike path" and the reporter construed Ms. Cooper's entire route as a bike path.

@twk: I hope this is not SHA's answer to the Pennsylvania Avenue Bike Lane. The suicide lane probably would help drivers to be more accepting cyclists using full lane in that area--so maybe it is a bit better westbound but worse eastbound.

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