The 2012 legislative session did not substantially advance the interests of cycling in Maryland. Last year saw the passage of House Bill 363, which created a new crime of vehicular negligent homicide, after years of lobbying by cyclists, AAA, victims families, and the elected states attorneys. And 2010 was a banner year, with both the creation of the 3-foot passing law and repeal of the long-hated mandatory shoulder use rule.
This year, the General Assembly rejected Governor O’Malley’s proposal to end the sales tax exemption for gasoline, which means that many transportation projects are likely to proceed more slowly than planned—including those that help cycling. The Purple Line will be threatened unless the Legislature provides funding next year. The Legislature also declined to give police the power to stop a driver for talking on a cell phone. But the news was not all bad:
A Senate bill to repeal the negligent homicide statute was soundly rejected (S.B. 942);
The House Environmental Matters Committee gave an unfavorable report to a bill that would have allowed automobiles to cross the double yellow line to pass bikes (H.B. 1397); and
The House failed to act on a proposal to legalize cycling on all sidewalks statewide except for those in Gaithersburg and Baltimore (H.B. 946).
While each of these bills were poorly conceived, the sponsors had good intentions and it may be possible to accomplish their objectives without the problems their bills would have caused. Over the next few days, I’ll comment on the fate of those three bills and possible next steps.
(Jim Titus is affiliated with several Maryland cycling groups. The opinions expressed herein are Jim's alone, and do not reflect the views of any organization with which he is affiliated.)