Warmer weather means sharing the road

Jimmy Mudgett, who was struck by a vehicle on Md. 31 last year while riding his bicycle, is recovering from spinal surgery and training for a triathalon in September.
Jimmy Mudgett, who was struck by a vehicle on Md. 31 last year while riding his bicycle, is recovering from spinal surgery and training for a triathalon in September. (DAVE MUNCHSTAFF PHOTO, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Jimmy Mudgett hasn't bought a new bike since being hit by a car while cycling on Md. 31 last year, but he knows he'll have to get back on the road soon.

Only eight months removed from surgery to repair a fractured back, Mudgett is training for an Olympic-distance triathlon this fall. He'll need to bike outside as part of his training.


He was training for the Ironman Triathalon — a long-distance race composed of 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking and 26.2 miles of running — in August 2014 when he was hit from behind by a car on Md. 31.

"I'm pretty scared to go back on the roads," he said. "You don't really think about those things until they happen to you."


The incident was not Mudgett's first run-in with drivers on the roads, though it was the most serious.

"A lot of drivers, they don't like seeing bikers on the road," he said. "They feel like they don't deserve the same rights as cars."

As warmer weather makes its way through the area, residents are expected to hit the streets on foot or on bicycles in greater numbers.

Bicycles are considered vehicles under Maryland law and their riders must obey the same rules, according to Cpl. Jonathan Light of the Carroll County Sheriff's Office. Cyclists have the right to be in the travel portion of the road, Light said, and must follow all traffic signals.


Mudgett said he tries to avoid peak driving times like rush hour and rides during bright daylight hours to make sure he's visible. He also knows the roads with the widest shoulders and visibility for drivers to see him.

Mudgett said though he knows the rules of the road when he's on a bike, he doesn't trust that others will.

"It doesn't matter if you know what the rules are. You still have to look out for yourself," he said.

In his years riding throughout Carroll County, Mudgett said he has been honked and yelled at and even had things thrown at him.

"You have to be a lot more careful," he said.

Mudgett also just began running again as part of his training and finds it less difficult to deal with drivers there than it is on a bike.

"It's a little easier to move on your feet," he said.

He said he finds running on the roads easier because runners move against traffic and can see obstacles. He took his first outdoor run since returning last week.

Runners are recommended to face oncoming traffic to more easily spot potential hazards and get out of the way, Light said. Bright, reflective clothing is also recommended, especially at night.

"The important thing is to make yourself visible," Mudgett said.

Steve Moore, a runner and owner of Run Moore in Westminster, said he has had countless incidents while out for runs.

Moore said he raps his knuckles on cars that almost hit him, hoping to get their attention and make them more aware in the future.

Moore said the biggest offenders are drivers approaching an intersection and turning right. They look left at traffic and when they see it's clear, they start driving without checking to their right again.

"I'm always aware of it," he said.

Even when he's using a crosswalk, which gives him the right of way, Moore said he gets people honking and throwing their hands up at him. He's also seen people blow right through crosswalks when he's standing waiting to cross.

"Yeah, we have the right of way, but they're still in a car," he said.

Moore said he is training for this fall's Baltimore Marathon and does all of his running outside. This week he'll probably log 35 miles.

A former resident of Baltimore, Moore said drivers in the city were better than in Carroll about looking out for runners and yielding the right of way.

"I've never had more encounters than I have since I moved out here," he said.

After five years running in Carroll, Moore said he knows the spots where drivers aren't looking or where things are especially dangerous, and he approaches them with caution.

He also said he keeps an identification tag attached to his shoe with his name and some information in case something happens to him.

The advice Moore said he gives runners is to assume everyone is out to get you.

"I trust myself more than I trust somebody else," he said.

Reach staff writer Heather Cobun at 410-857-7898 or email heather.cobun@carrollcountytimes.com.

Sharing the Road

For drivers:

•Bikes are considered vehicles under Maryland law.

•When passing a bicycle, maintain a safe distance and make sure you are clear before making any turns.

•Yield right of way to cyclists in bike lanes and shoulders when entering or crossing these areas.

•Pedestrians have the right of way in a marked or unmarked crosswalk when the pedestrian is on the half of the roadway the vehicle is traveling in or within one lane of the of that half.

•At intersections with signals, pedestrians have the right of way when obeying the signal.

For cyclists:

•Cyclists riding slower than the speed of traffic must use the right lane and stay as close to the right side of the road as is safe. A cyclist riding at the speed of traffic can be in any lane.

•When a bike lane is present, it must be used except in certain scenarios.

•Cyclists cannot use the travel lanes of any roadway where the speed limit is more than 50 miles per hour but may use the shoulder of these roadways.

•Bicycles operating in low-visibility conditions must be equipped with a white beam headlight and red reflector or reflective and flashing lamp.

For runners:

•Be predictable and cross or enter streets where it is legal to do so.

•Make sure all traffic has come to a stop before crossing at a signal or crosswalk.

•Wear bright clothes to be seen day or night; wear reflective material at night.

Source: http://www.mva.maryland.gov/safety/mhso/program-pedestrian-safety.htm