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How safe is Maryland for bicyclists?

Bicycling is a fun recreation, whether you use it to get to and from work or during your leisure time. You have a certain expectation for safety when you get on the road.

For Maryland cyclists, safety is a somewhat fair expectation. The League of American Bicyclists ranks all 50 states based on bicycle safety, and as of the most recent report card from 2017, Maryland ranked No. 11.

However, the state has several weak points that could directly impact bicycle safety for many riders, among which are:

  • Too many exceptions to Maryland’s safe passing law, which requires a minimum distance of three feet
  • A statewide mandatory bike lane law, which the league says ignores the quality and safety of available lanes
  • Not enough federal funding spent on bicyclists and pedestrians
  • Poor bicycle network connectivity

 

Maryland bicycle fatalities increasing with commuters

In 2018, the league offered progress reports instead of full report cards and rankings. Maryland’s progress report was unfortunately mixed. The league’s data showed that the number of commuters choosing to ride a bicycle is increasing, but bicycle-related accidents are also increasing.

The league’s data showed the rate of bicycle traffic fatalities in Maryland was trending up, with two of the past three years having rates above the national and regional averages. For every 10,000 bicycle commuters, there are 9.4 fatalities.

While Maryland can’t stop motorists from behaving negligently and causing an accident, the gaps the league highlights may be significant enough to address. Updating the safe passing law, repealing the mandatory bike lane law, improving bicycle connectivity in infrastructure, and increasing federal spending for bicyclists and pedestrians could bring that fatality rate down.

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