The Maryland Department of Transportations State Highway Administration (SHA) is urging motorists to share the road and be on the lookout for cyclists, particularly Friday, May 18 which is National Bike to Work Day. With local groups, counties and municipalities around the State sponsoring Bike to Work activities, more bicycle traffic is expected along key routes and local roadways. Bicycle safety is a two-way street, and cyclists are reminded to follow the rules of the road, to stay visible and wear a helmet.
Bike to Work Day encourages those who might usually ride for recreation and exercise to try an alternate means of commuting. We certainly expect more bicycle traffic than usual Friday, so were urging drivers to stay alert, focus and share the road, said SHA Administrator Melinda B. Peters. Cycling instead of driving is not only better for your health, it is better for the health of the environmental as well. Ms. Peters and Planning and Preliminary Engineering Director Gregory Slater will bike from the Meadowbrook Regional Park in Brooklandville to SHA Headquarters on North Calvert Street.
Working diligently to offer safe transportation options for those traveling on non-motorized two-wheels, SHA continues to add and improve state roads for bicycle access. In fact as a practice, SHA reviews all roadway projects for bicycle compatibility, and adds bicycle shoulders and lanes where possible.
Bike to Work Day provides an opportunity to highlight the challenges that cyclers face, and remind drivers, who tend to look for other drivers, to look out for bicyclists as well, said Ms. Peters. Many people still may not be aware of the three-foot rule, which requires drivers to give three feet of space when passing cyclists. Safety remains a major concern with 39 people killed and another 3,173 people injured in bicycle-related crashes between 2006 and 2010 in Maryland.
SHAs system features more than 101 miles of bicycle facilities including marked lanes and shared use paths. SHAs bicycle map includes more than 1,526 miles of designated bicycle routes along state routes, which are delineated with roadway signage and/or pavement markings. The system varies in accommodation from wide shoulders to segments where bicyclists and motorists Share the Road. There remains an additional 1,700 miles of planned bikeways and roadways that SHA intends to turn into designated bicycle routes as funding and resources permit.
On roads where shoulders end, SHA is installing newly approved signs that picture a bicycle with the words: May Use Full Lane. The purpose of these signs is to notify drivers that cyclists may be moving into the travel lane. Locations are being inventories and finalized, and sign installation will begin by weeks end. Bicycles are considered vehicles, and deserve the same respect as traditional motorized vehicles on the road. When coming upon a cyclist, a driver should slow and carefully pass a cyclist, giving at least three feet of space when it is safe to do so. Likewise, bicyclists are subject to the same vehicle laws as drivers and should adhere to signs and traffic lights and signal to drivers their intentions when breaking or turning.
For more information on SHAs bicycle program, log on to SHAs website at www.roads.maryland.gov and click on Environment and Community, then Hikers and Bicyclists. The Maryland Department of Transportation has launched a new web site: http://www.mdot.maryland.gov/IncludedContent/New%20MDOT%20Site/tabPages/Bike_Walk.html
SHA suggests several other resources for Bike to Work Day: http://www.baltometro.org/commuter-options/bike-to-work-day and http://www.mwcog.org/commuter2/commuter/bicycling/biketoworkday.html.
The League of American Bicyclists began National Bike to Work Day in 1956. An annual event held in May across the United States and Canada, National Bike to Work Day promotes the bicycle as an option for commuting to work. Leading up to Bike to Work Day, national, regional, and local bicycle advocacy groups encourage people to try bicycle commuting as a healthy and safe alternative to driving.
Source: State Highway Administration