The Maryland Senate this morning unanimously approved a measure requiring drivers to give bicycles, scooters and other personal transportation devices, such as Segways, at least three feet of space when possible.
Drivers now are required to exercise "due care" when passing cyclists, but the Senate wants to get specific on what exactly that means. A House of Delegates committee is scheduled to hear the proposal next week.
Also included in the measure is a directive that drivers are to yield right-of-way at intersections when a cyclist is in a designated bike lane or lawfully riding on the shoulder.
Violating these new provisions would be a misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $500.
The Baltimore City Paper pointed out in a recent commentary on its news blog that the measures come too late for cyclist Jack Yates, who was killed last summer at the intersection of Maryland and Lafayette avenues in Baltimore. From Michael Byrne's entry:
He was riding to the right of the right lane of Maryland as a truck passed him, also in the right lane. That is, both vehicles were smooshed into the right lane as the truck instigated a right turn onto Lafayette. The accident that resulted is a classic "right hook," one of the most dreaded occurrences in urban bicycling—and one of the most common.
Maryland lawmakers are also considering several "move over" measures that would require drivers to pull away from emergency vehicles that are stopped on shoulders to investigate traffic accidents or infractions.