Posts Tagged ‘Maryland’
Last night, we asked you to take action to oppose a mandatory helmet law introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates’ Committee on Environmental Matters. In response, some of you asked for additional information on the “debatable” effects on bicyclists’ safety and the negative impacts on cycling that a mandatory helmet law would have.
We vocally and overwhelmingly approve of helmets here at WABA. All of our staff and volunteers wear them, we require participants to wear them at all WABA events, and we teach how to wear them properly in all WABA education classes. Helmets provide an important last line of defense in the safety equation during a crash. When everything else has gone wrong, helmets have saved many bicyclists from more serious injuries or even death. We don’t get on our bikes without our helmets and we strongly encourage every cyclist out there to wear one.
However, mandatory helmet laws requiring all bicyclists to wear helmets are not effective at increasing helmet usage without significantly affecting ridership. There are many studies that show helmet usage increases when laws are passed—but critically, not without a negative effect on overall bicycle ridership. In Australia, ridership dropped 37.5 percent between 1985 and 2011 after such a law was passed. During the same time, population growth was three times higher than the growth of cycling, meaning following the passage of a mandatory helmet law, there was a net decrease in bicycling.
These laws negatively impact bicycle ridership by throwing up one more barrier (financially and behaviorally) to bike riding. Therefore, a potential bicyclist will be driven to choose another mode of transportation. Additionally, a recent New York Times article quoted Piet de Jong, a professor in the department of applied finance and actuarial studies at Macquarie University in Sydney: “Pushing helmets really kills cycling and bike-sharing in particular because it promotes a sense of danger that just isn’t justified—in fact, cycling has many health benefits.” Jong has studied the public health impacts of bicycling and has concluded that the positive health benefits outweigh risks of helmetless riding 20 to 1. In a country in the midst of an obesity epidemic, encouraging a few miles of bicycling everyday could lead to a considerable reduction in overall healthcare costs. And as jurisdictions like Montgomery County consider bikesharing programs, it’s important that those programs are accessible. Mandatory helmet laws in Maryland could potentially kill the momentum for bikesharing, as the law would promote a sense of danger for cycling, ignoring the obvious overall health benefits.
And finally, these laws are merely an easy “fix” for legislators that distract from larger safety issues—such as the lack of safe, separate and comfortable places to ride. Adults and kids need safe spaces to ride on our roads that are separate from cars. We at WABA believe there are better legislative ways to keep bicyclists safe, such as better and more targeted enforcement of current traffic laws (especially distracted driving), increased bicyclist education, and, most importantly, the construction of separated bicycling facilities.
Helmets are an important part of keeping bicyclists safe and WABA enthusiastically supports their promotion and use, but mandatory helmet laws do more harm than good.
The Maryland House of Delegates is considering removing the “under 16″ age requirement of its current mandatory helmet law in HB 339 to require all bicycle riders to wear a helmet. Please take a minute and contact the members of the Committee on Environmental Matters and ask them to oppose HB 339.
Attention Maryland voters! Please take one moment to send an email to the members of the Environmental Matters Committee of the Maryland House of Delegates opposing the passage of a mandatory helmet law for all bicyclists on every road, trail, or sidewalk in the state of Maryland.
At WABA, we encourage and teach safe and responsible cycling practices, including helmet use. But we do not believe that mandatory helmet laws are the proper approach. While their impact on safety is debatable, their impact on cycling rates (especially in jurisdictions implementing or seriously studying bikesharing) is clearly negative.
Please CLICK HERE to let the Environmental Matters Committee know that you are a responsible cyclist and a responsible adult capable of making your own decision regarding safety equipment, and that you OPPOSE HB 339 and its imposition of a mandatory helmet requirement.
Last night, we had a great turnout at our office to talk about transportation policy changes in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. While DDOT is gearing up to produce its first-ever master transportation plan, Maryland is revising its bicycle and pedestrian master plan and the Virginia senate is considering a number of bills that could affect cyclists. Last night’s open house was designed to give attendees more information, as well as some talking points.
Those interested in Maryland’s bicycle and pedestrian plan should sign up to receive updates from MDOT here. And Virginians can follow the Virginia Bicycling Federation’s blog for frequent updates on what the senate is considering.
As for D.C., planning for WeMove will occur on two tracks, one technical and one involving public input. WeMove is designed to emphasize the feedback gathered at public meetings. Though a schedule of those meetings has not been released, the process will kick off on Sat., Feb. 9 at 9:30 a.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. library downtown. We hope you’ll come out to show the presence of cyclists interested in DDOT’s plans for how people will get around D.C. throughout the next decade. The best thing you can do is show up and ask for improvements for cycling infrastructure that will help not just you, your friends, and your neighbors ride bikes.
We’ll provide continued updates here and throughout our website. Look for dates of public meetings, opportunities to testify, and more fact sheets to help you out with possible talking points.
In the meantime, you can view and download a PDF of the fact sheet we handed out last night below regarding WeMove:
Do you live in Friendship Heights or Bethesda, near Wisconsin Avenue?
The Maryland State Highway Administration has proposed a six-foot-wide sidewalk along the east side of Wisconsin Ave., which connects the north end of Friendship Heights with the south end of Bethesda. This sidewalk would stretch .7 miles alongside a six-lane road with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour. While too narrow to be considered a shared-use path, the sidewalk would provide a safe place for pedestrians to access the three bus stops on the east side of Wisconsin Avenue. In addition, bicyclists who do not feel comfortable riding on the road could carefully use the sidewalk. With Capital Bikeshare expanding in both Washington, D.C. and Bethesda, a safe place to ride along Wisconsin Ave. is especially important.
The Little Falls Watershed Association is actively organizing to oppose this sidewalk, which could cost $1.5 million. There will be an informational meeting on Jan. 28 at 7:30 to discuss the project. Maryland state engineers will present the latest plans for the sidewalk, and members of Montgomery County Council have been invited to attend.
Please attend this informational meeting to support building a safe route for pedestrians and bicyclists. It is on Jan. 28 from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Somerset Town Hall, 4510 Cumberland Ave., Chevy Chase, Md.
We’ll update you here on any needs for subsequent action.
Tomorrow night, Tues., Jan. 15, be trained to be a D.C. bike ambassador. Bike ambassadors reach out to and educate cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers about what it means to ride a bike in the D.C. area. To learn more about what bike ambassadors do and how the program spreads the good word of bicycling, click here. Sign up for bike ambassador orientation here. It’ll run from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
On Wed., Jan. 23, we’ll host an open house to talk about major transportation planing processes that are about to get underway in D.C. and Maryland. The District’s MoveDC is the city’s first master transportation plan, and the state of Maryland is updating its bicycle and pedestrian master plan. Come to the WABA office from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. to get an understanding of what the plans will mean for cyclists and learn how to testify or present at public meetings. You’ll get to meet fellow cyclists and discuss relevant talking points. Please sign up for the open house here.
Our Adams Morgan office is located at 2599 Ontario Road NW.
Two of the most important planning processes for the future of biking in our region will be taking place simultaneously this year. Your input, presence, opinions, and comments will be needed to ensure that bike infrastructure is acknowledged and included.
Beginning in February, the District Department of Transportation will begin work on D.C.’s first multimodal transportation plan, called MoveDC. Also, beginning this spring, the Maryland Department of Transportation will begin seeking public input as it updates the state’s Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan for the first time since 2002.
Both plans present significant opportunities to alter how people get around, and in subsequent posts we’ll provide more detailed information on each. What matters most right now is that both processes are being designed to maximally integrate public input into the planning of our transportation future. While WABA will be actively involved as an organization, it’s also critical that people—like you!—who value biking as a way of getting around and want to see it encouraged in the future participate.
On Wed., Jan. 23, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., we will be hosting an open house at our office in Adams Morgan. This will be a low-key opportunity for people interested in participating in these processes and testifying or presenting at public meetings to meet their fellow bicyclists, review background materials, ask questions, and get a better understanding of what’s going on in D.C. and Maryland.
Changes are coming, and your input is essential. We hope to see you on Jan. 23!
Mark you calendars! WABA’s Annual Member Holiday Party is just around the bend. Celebrate the season and jingle and mingle around with fellow members and WABA staff. Not a member? Not to worry, JOIN NOW and support WABA’s work to make your life on a bike– that much more safe and enjoyable.
Date: Wednesday, December 12th
Time: 7pm to 11pm
Location: Smith Commons
Address: 1245 H St. NE, Washington DC
Cost: $5 suggested donation for members.
For more information check out our event page and be sure to share with your friends.
Want to lend a hand during the party and work towards a free WABA membership? Sign up here: http://bit.ly/UB1i4j
Get a glimpse of our Holiday follies, check out pictures from last year:
Big thanks to Smith Commons, our Holiday hosts, and to LA Johnson for her very beary nice artwork!
Haven’t joined yet? There’s still time! Join today to receive a discounted 1-year individual and 1-year family membership ($10 off). Each new member who joins during the membership drive also gets a free WABA water bottle or WABA sunglasses along with a WABA patch kit or tire levers set (while supplies last).
A BIG THANKS to…
… all our volunteers who stood at busy intersections throughout the week, promoting bicycling and WABA while handing out free bike maps!
… City Bikes, for donating awesome bike prizes for our refer-a-friend drawing!
… BikeArlington, for providing coffee and granola bars and then helping pass them out!
During this week’s Fall Membership Drive, we have been asking WABA members to support us by referring-a-friend to join WABA. If every WABA member refers just one co-worker, friend, family member, or fellow bike commuter to join, our reach will be twice as big! That’s two times as many people working to ensure bicyclists’ needs are represented. We all benefit when this happens.
To convey our appreciation, we will be entering each referrer into a drawing for cool bike prizes. Thanks to our friends at City Bikes, we will be giving away a Specialized helmet, OnGuard Pitbull bike lock, and Planet Bike Blaze Superflash light set. In addition, our top five referrers will receive a free 1-year WABA membership or membership extension.
Use this customizable, “refer-a-friend” email to refer up to 20 friends to join. Feel free to change or personalize the message, but remember to leave the join link so they can receive 1-year individual and 1-year family discounted memberships ($10 off). Just make certain your friends fill in your name (in the “referred by a friend” field) when they join so you can get credit.
Supporting WABA to sustain our on-going bicycle advocacy in the Washington region is a wonderful benefit in and of itself. Our advocacy ensures that the bike lanes get striped (or painted green), the trails get funded and built, the bicycle education classes get taught, and the bike racks installed.
- Discounts at 50 area bike shops
- Discounts on WABA events and rides (i.e. VASA, BikeFest, Bike Prom, 50 States, etc.)
- Discounts from many community business partners like ZipCar
- Subscription to the quarterly WABA newsletter, RideOn
- Use of WABA’s complimentary bike “boxes” when you travel
- Up-to-date information on current bicycle advocacy issues and how you can take action on them
And the benefits keep growing. Earlier this month, Lunar Massage became WABA’s newest discount partner, offering free membership to their massage studios (a $40 up front savings!). After a long day of riding, what could be better than a nice, healing massage?
Join during WABA’s Fall Membership Drive, October 22nd-26th, and secure these benefits for yourself! We are offering our 1-year individual and 1-year family memberships at a discount ($10 off each). Each new and renewing member who joins during the drive also gets a free WABA water bottle or WABA sunglasses along with a WABA patch kit and tire levers set (while supplies last).