Support Maryland HB 363: Manslaughter by Vehicle or Vessel–Criminal Negligence

Ghost bike in honor of Natasha Pettigrew.

Ghost bike in honor of Natasha Pettigrew.

Tomorrow, WABA Board Member Jim Titus will join with other Maryland cyclists, pedestrians, and advocates testifying in support of HB 363, which would fill a gap in Maryland’s criminal law that currently operates to allow drivers who kill cyclists to receive little or no punishment.  In short, the bill creates a misdemeanor for causing the death of another while operating a vehicle in a criminally negligent manner.

Maryland residents: Please take a moment to sign the League of American Bicyclists’ petition in support of HB 363.

Below is a preliminary draft of Mr. Titus’s remarks to be delivered tomorrow on behalf of WABA.

Maryland HB 363 Testimony

Ghost Bike Ceremony for Natasha Pettigrew Friday

From the WABA Press Release:

Bicycle Crash Victim’s Mother and Washington Area Bicyclist Association Join to Seek Safer Roadways, Stronger Laws Protecting Cyclists

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) and Kenniss Henry, mother of fatally struck cyclist and former Senate candidate Natasha Pettigrew, will join to erect a “ghost bike” memorial near the intersection of Route 202 and Campus Way in Prince George’s County, Maryland.  A ghost bike is an internationally recognized, somber memorial intended to mark the place in which a cyclist lost her life and to serve as a reminder to all roadway users of the need for attentiveness and due care.

WABA and Ms. Henry join in calling for improvements to both the laws and the roadway infrastructure in the state of Maryland, and in Prince George’s County in particular, that often fail to accommodate equally the needs of bicyclists as rightful roadway users.  “Prince George’s County is many years behind its neighbors in the region in developing a comprehensive approach to bicycle planning,” states WABA Executive Director Shane Farthing, “and the result is a county that tops the state in roadway fatalities.  We hope that this tragic death—combined with the many others that have occurred on its roadways— finally will convince the County to dedicate resources to a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator with a mandate to improve safety for vulnerable roadway users.”

WABA would like to remind cyclists to ride safely, ensure their visibility and predictability, and to follow all applicable laws, as well as to remind motorists of their responsibility to watch for cyclists, who have a legal right to share the road.  “Operating a motor vehicle is the most dangerous activity most people will undertake in a given day,” says Farthing, “and drivers must recognize that danger and give due attention to their actions and surroundings.  And the law must be amended to create consequences that force drivers to give due care to other roadway users, whether motorist, cyclist, or pedestrian.”

Members of the press and the public are invited to attend the ghost bike placement ceremony, scheduled for 10:30am, Friday, October 1 near the intersection of Route 202 and Campus Way in Prince George’s County.