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Roads are better generally, but I agree that sidewalks are an invaluable alternative in at least two circumstances: for less-confident riders, and on roads that are two lanes in each direction, 35 mph or greater speed limits, no parking lane and no shoulder.

why don't more "sidewalks" in suburban area s use asphalt istead of concrete -- one has a much better riding experience.

Considering that some Montgomery County "bike trails" are located partially on sidewalks (e.g., the Bethesda Trolley Trail), maybe the county thinks it's a somewhat awkward law (but not nearly as awkward as riding on the Rt. 355 sidewalk north of Cedar Lane).

The law would have no impact on Montgomery County, so it does seem a bit odd that a Delegate from MoCo is proposing it.
(Riding on a sidewalk is illegal in most incorporated towns in MoCo but legal in unincorporated portions).

I think this bill would also have no impact on PG, Baltimore City, or Howard which also have laws on the books. PG's law is an administrative delegation, so it is a bit unclear.


Jim -- do you have a reference for the PG law?

I believe there are places where I would prefer a trail, but it might be easier to convince officials to put in a sidewalk -- just to avoid short, awful stretches of road.

I know a few places where MUPs occasionally follow sidewalks, like small pieces of the Custis trail.

I know people have been hassled in Gaithersburg for riding on the sidewalk, even in places where the alternative roads are awful (Rt. 355). It seems to me that traffic laws should be uniform throughout the state: how the heck do I know which laws apply where or when I might be crossing the boundary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction?

Sec. 26-154. Applicable laws.

Any sidewalk or trail designated or established by the County Executive for use by bicycles shall be deemed to be a public bicycle area and every person operating a bicycle thereon shall be subject to the applicable provisions of the Laws of the State of Maryland.
(CB-43-1974; CB-51-1978)

PS: That's from the PG Code as Pseudoprimer requested. A simple reading is that the proposed bill will legalize sidewalk riding everywhere in PG County, but another possible reading is that the Legislature is not intending to upset existing local laws.

That is also the case with MoCo. Towns that have excepted themselves from the County's legalization seem to have consciously decided no to legalize, and actual prohibition would be silly when something is already illegal. Yet strictly speaking, those towns have not actually prohibited bikes on sidewalks, they just declined to adopt the county's legalization.

The bill sponsors should probably indicate what the objective is in these ambiguous cases.

"why don't more "sidewalks" in suburban area s use asphalt istead of concrete -- one has a much better riding experience."

Asphalt needs to be regularly compressed or it cracks and crumbles. It's not suitable for places that don't get steady vehicular traffic. Bikes actually do a better job of compressing asphalt than cars do, because the tire pressure is higher, as long as their are enough of them to cover the width of the way. Pedestrians have too low ground pressure to keep asphalt down, so concrete is preferred for sidewalks even though it is more expensive. For the same reason you'll rarely see asphalt on a residential driveway, and if you do it's often in poor condition.

A few years ago, I read about efforts to use recycled rubber (old tires, etc.) as building material for sidewalks. Doesn't seem like this idea has caught on. I've never seen any sidewalks made of recycled rubber. Seemed like a good idea, but maybe there were maintenance issues.

I've seen them near eastern market.

I think part of the problem with the recycled rubber is is makes it harder to re-use the ashpalt. Much better to just shred and burn the tires than try to re-use it.

To answer Jim T's question above, a delegate from Montgomery County is proposing the legislation because she takes a statewide view and because the change is supported by bicyclists statewide (at least the ones who are involved in advocacy). But in fact state law can sway cities that ban sidewalk riding like Gaithersburg. We're working on changing Gaithersburg's law to allow it.

Hi Jack,
My main question is whether the bill is intended to legalize cycling
(1) on sidewalks in all those MoCo towns where it is illegal today due to the non-adoption of the county law legalizing it; and
(2) on all sidewalks in Prince Georges County where, there is an existing statute that gives the County Executive the authority.

The language right not is a bit ambiguous. On the one hand, those jurisdictions have not specifically prohibited cycling on sidewalks. But on the other hand, they enacted specific legislation that seems to be nullified by the language of the bill, unless the intent is not to nullify existing laws.

Is there any way of telling what sidewalks have been "designated or established" by the PG County Executive?

And if I read this correctly, if there's a gap in the bike infrastructure, but a sidewalk is built, it would be possible to lobby the County to designate the sidewalk for use by bikes to fill that gap.

As a general rule, no, because DPW&T forgot about this provision. People generally assume that wide sidewalks such as up hill on Good Luck Road have been so designated. I think that DPW&T is amenable to a mass designation if BTAG can provide reasonable advice. I'm thinking that DPW&T should legalize riding 8mph with the flow of traffic on all sidewalks where either the speed limit is >25mph or there is an uphill grade.

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