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Perhaps the lack of comparative enthusiasm for the three-foot safe passing bill has to do with the likelihood that if it passes (in whatever form), motorists and constables alike will do everything they can in the event of an accident to suggest the cyclist veered/swerved into the motorist's vehicle, and was thus at fault. And if vehicles continue to pass with less than 3 feet between them and the cyclist, well, that's breaking the law, but who is going to enforce that? Does anyone envision a cop pulling a motorist over for passing within 2.5 feet of a cyclist? So, it's maybe helpful only post-accident. People who care about other human beings will pass with appropriate room; those who don't won't let this law affect them. Invariably, there will be a lot of subjectivity in the enforcement of that law (hmm, was that 3 feet? Did the cyclist swerve?).
The helmet bill, on the other hand, is an instant revenue generator because it can so easily be enforced (i.e., a constable can see that a cyclist isn't wearing a helmet from very far away). If that bill passes, cyclists are constant targets. Yes, both bills deserve our attention, but the safe passing one isn't going to affect how I ride. (Actually, neither is the helmet bill, but I don't like the idea of having to be hyper-vigilant about anything other than my immediate safety when I'm riding. Fun as it is, fleeing from doughnut-impaired cops can be envervating if it's a daily routine).

Where is MD SHA's bike/ped coordinator in this? Is the legislature not asking for technical review of this sort of thing? Seems odd, when it deals with issues of traffic control

As a law with any kind of an enforcement mechanism, the current law and even the proposed changes are not a panacaea. Their real value is becoming part of the package of core motor vehicle laws that every driver knows and internalizes. We need the law, and we need it integrated into the driver's manual.

poor jim titus.

i admirte the man, i really do. hes a good egg trying to do good. but we wont see significant bike legislation until the next generation...these morons have to die off. i would hope jim has better ways to spend his time... id be happy to take him on some bike rides during the day...

significant transporation change is NOT on the historical agenda in this culture (although its getting closer...)...and CERTAINLY not in maryland!! ha ha -- Maryland??!! yeah, right... Maryland is as retarded as alabama...

Perhaps we should focus on other ways to shift towards greater safety.

No need to give up. I've only been paying attention for about 10 years and I've seen significant changes in attitudes towards bicycling. For example, reports of police ordering cyclists off of roads (because they don't belong there) are rare these days and prosecutions of hit-and-run drivers are much more common.

Unfortunately, statehouses tend to lag cities when to comes to anything even remotely innovative. As a result people in Annapolis (or Richmond, in my case) will always seem backwards to us city folk.

eh? Va doesnt even have a 3 foot law, we have two feet. 3 didn't pass.

OTOH we DID get a no texting law passed. Not done for the beneift of cyclists, but it will help cyclists. And we got very close on the other bills. Keep pushing, and little by little we will move forward.

@crikey7: "Their real value is becoming part of the package of core motor vehicle laws that every driver knows and internalizes." True, and I thought about that, except that this is probably one of those obscure laws that never makes its way into the minds of motorists. The way many lesser-known motor vehicle laws eventually permeate the mental make-up of motorists is through speed, you get caught (or you see someone else get caught), you maybe don't speed so often. But I'd wager this law will see so very little enforcement that people will not have it in their minds when (often in an agitated state) they go to pass a cyclist.

^scratch that "lesser-known" part.

BlooEyedDevel, I just want to mention that the helmet law would not have included a fine. Only a written warning.

@WC, really? Hmm. So, does a second offense involve a fine? Either way,I'd still run, ha. But that certainly goes to Jim's point in wondering about the apparent disparate level of passion from cyclists between the two bills.

@BlooEyedDevil: No fines, just awarning for the helmet bill. But it still is a criminal offense with all the trappings, such as flashing blue and red lights pulling you over. And chronic law-abiders feeling they must, including perhaps the lawyers for localities offering bike share. See Seattle's plans for helmet vending machines.

Regarding the level of passion. I think I was wondering out loud why this bill failed, but the disparate level of passion does not surprise me. If you get a chance, watch my testimony on the helmet bill and compare that with my testimony on the 3-foot bill. Well, I didn't actually testify on the 3-foot bill. Heck I didn't even write a post on it until now.

@Darren: Nor had I even bothered to learn MDOT's position on the safe-passing bill, though I have asked for it.

@Crickey: I largely agree. But after hearing the trucker testimony, I now think that MVA, AAA, and others have largely made the point to drivers who are paying attention that they need to leave three feet, but that the trucking groups are telling the truckers that they don't have to, because of this ambiguity in the law.

@give up: I somewhat agree with your calculations. I had not planned to do anthing with legislation this year--until the helmet bill fired me up. Do you really think I should just sit and let that thing pas? (I basically did nothing on the 3-foot bill.) Drop me a line if you plan to be at Whitetail or WISP this weekend.

So the trucks can't tell if they're leaving 3 feet, but they're sure they can squeeze by without hiring the cyclist? How does that work? Maybe the point of the law if that if you're not sure, you just don't pass...

Mike, your question of how that works is important and if JimT is right about it coming back up sometime, you or someone else (me? well, maybe) ought to ask it. It's a foot of error in either direction in either case, but with vastly more important consequences for the person "sharing the lane" when the initial distance is closer.

JimT, my guess is the helmet bill took precedence because the illegality would affect *us* as cyclers. So maybe not a total persecution complex, but definitely being wary of being called an outlaw. And in this case, by a cop who we already perceive as being more willing to enforce against us as cyclers than the drivers who weave around traffic while on tapping on the phone all well over the speed limit (I tend to think everyone feels to some degree this way, including drivers: just read all the comment about RLJ cyclists). The other idea is that the three-foot law (exceptions excepted) is already common knowledge. The MVA's “Give Bikes THREE FEET when passing – It’s the Law” slogan that it plastered on envelopes didn't mention exceptions, so when we see a revision to what we already see as "THE LAW," all we can do is provide a confused look. Now, maybe instead the response should be curiosity: "what are they trying to do to my THREE FEET law??" Only better promotion can overcome that, I think. The truckers appear to know it better than we do.

Why would anyone be against a helmet law? Are you against seat belt laws? I would think this is a law all cyclists would *want* to see happen

Go to the article linked from the third paragraph, which in turn links to a video of the hearing and also has links to the written testimony of some of the witnesses. If you have specific questions let us know.

@Wayan, Because bike activists are against ANY law that attempts to regulate their behavior, while advocating for every law that attempts to regulate the behavior of everyone else. See: laws requiring them to stop at stop signs, laws attempting to regulate their speed, laws attempting to - you get the picture. In their echo chamber, hypocrisy is a one-way street that they are happy to ride down going the wrong way.

@Asuka: If you can find any statements to show that your statement applies to the Maryland activists that testified against the helmet bill , please provide the evidence.

Your statement probably does apply to some people--I just don't think it applies to any of the Maryland activists whose February was hijacked by the need to stop that bill.

Please obey all traffic laws when you bike in Maryland, I don't care whether you wear a helmet,.

I, for one, support laws mandating that cyclists use front and rear lights at night, so I guess that proves you wrong Asuka.

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