Saturday, October 2, 2010

Road Rules: A Change, And A Chat With Peter Moe

Who is Peter Moe? He's Maryland State Highway Administration's Bicycle Safety Coordinator. Didn't know Maryland had one? Don't feel bad, it was news to WTOP's own Bob Marbourg, Dean of Washington Traffic reporters.

WTOP talked to Moe about Maryland's new rules of the road regarding cyclists. These are rules drivers need to be aware of and cyclists need to keep in mind as they travel the roadways.

One law welcomed by cyclists is the 'three foot rule'. Moe explains what that means for drivers. "What you need to do now in the state of Maryland is give bicyclists at least three feet of space when overtaking them."

Another change repeals the law that basically forced cyclists to stick to the shoulder of roadways. Why shouldn't cyclists be required to stay on the shoulder? "Because sometimes on that shoulder, there may be debris or obstacles that a cyclist has to avoid in order to travel safely." Moe says the repeal of the law means that cyclists now have some discretion. They can stay on the shoulder if they feel safest there, but can now 'take the lane' on the road if they prefer. Isn't that having it both ways? Many drivers feel bikes should not be on state roads in the first place. Moe says the law is on the side of the cyclist. "You can and should expect to see bicyclists on any roadway, apart from our interstates. Bikes are considered a legal vehicle, and they have a right to the roadway."

But Moe adds, they have responsibilites that come along with those rights: they are required to obey all traffic laws. And yes, that means stopping at red lights and at stop signs. "That's really for eveyone's benefit. For the bicyclist and for the motorist." It's the predictability, the understanding that you can expect the other guy to do the expected thing that helps keep everyone safer.

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