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Study Finds 1 in 6 Vehicles Illegally Passes Cyclists in Baltimore

If you recall, back in 2010, Maryland passed a law requiring vehicles to give cyclists 3 feet of room while passing.

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future at the Bloomberg School of Public Health published a study this week that takes a look at how well the law is being followed by vehicles. Unfortunately, the answer is not very well.

Here are some key findings of the groundbreaking study:

  • Overall, bike lanes in Baltimore improve cyclist safety
  • Without bike lanes, drivers had trouble sharing the road with cyclists
  • One in six Baltimore drivers, or about 17 percent, violated the 3-foot law
  • Researchers found a 20 percent increase in motorist adherence to the 3-foot law for bike lane streets compared to standard streets

Having this quantifiable data makes a very compelling case for the city to continue (and increase) its funding for dedicated bike lanes around the city.

Make sure you read the full study here.


Posted in Baltimore Cycling News, Baltimore Cycling Videos, Bike Lane Reports.

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  • YellowRex

    BikeSnobNYC was a guest on a morning radio show a while back and learned from the callers than their main annoyance with sharing the road with cyclists was the minimal effort required to steer around them.  Simply amazing.

    I got into a shouting match with a truck driver who passed too close.  His retort was “Did I hit you? Okay then.”  Well no, but how about you could stand here while I buzz you with the truck, buddy.  See how you like it.

    If I can reach out and smash your side mirror with my u-lock, you’re too damn close.

    • seth


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  • ryanb

    To me it’s not that you’re being illegally passed it’s HOW you’re illegally passed, and by what type of vehicle. They also don’t report on vehicle behavior with regard to painted lanes, which commonly become double parking zones anyway. Separated bike paths like the one on the Fallsway aren’t properly maintained and kept clear of debris OR pedestrian traffic.

    The bike lane “fix” is basically segregation in a “separate but unequal” system leaving us with less right to roads and thoroughfares than those who use cars. I’m sorry, but I’d rather just take my lane and let the classist gas addicts continue to be pissed off while their habit is subsidized by the government and big oil.

    Use your car, sure, but use it respectfully and meaningfully, and when you HAVE to, not just because you like to and are a lazy douchebag who needs to drive a half mile to go to the 7-11. A smaller car volume, and respectful, lawful, and appropriate behavior on the part of both drivers and cyclists would lead to no need for the separation anyway.

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  • Joe Mizereck

    This is good news, actually.  We now have a base of data to guide Baltimore and the rest of Maryland in the work that needs to be done to educate motorists about the law’s existence and significance. 
    If you look at this study and say the law isn’t making any difference, I would say, “How could it?”. Motorists don’t even know, for the most part, that the law exists.  This is where states that have passed the law drop the ball…they pass the law, pat themselves on the back and that’s it.  No public awareness campaigns.  No questions on drivers’ exams…they just assume motorists are going to figure it out for themselves.  That’s not how it works.

    The greatest value of the law, isn’t in the number of tickets that are issued, but rather, in the number of motorists who are educated about the law and whose driving behaviors are changed as a result.  And this change in behavior will lead to fewer cyclists being injured and killed…and that will be great news.

    Use this data as a starting point for change and saving lives.  You have the law…now make it work for you.

    Good luck…lives are at stake.

    Joe MizereckFounder, The “3 Feet Please” Campaign 

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  • Dukiebiddle

     ”Separated bike paths like the one on the Fallsway aren’t properly maintained and kept clear of debris OR pedestrian traffic.”

    Put slightly fatter tires on your bike and the trail next to the Fallsway will be more than fine.  Also, the trail isn’t supposed to segregate cyclists from pedestrians.  It’s a Mixed Use Pathway.  Go slightly slower and pass pedestrians with due care on the Fallsway and you’ll be fine.

    “They also don’t report on vehicle behavior with regard to painted lanes,”

    Actually, the report clearly did; and the conclusion was that the presence of painted lanes actually cause motorists to give cyclists more space.

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