After the conclusion of the 2022 MD legislative session, we can say that we have made some progress with regards to the state of bicycling in Maryland and the efforts to make state roads safer for people who walk and bike.
The 2022 session was marked by the passage of a few bills that made substantive progress to make alternatives to cars more available to all of us. Here are the bills demonstrating this change that passed and are now State law:
HB 254, the Vision Zero Act of 2022, introduced by Delegate Julie Palakovich-Carr, mandates that the Maryland State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) conduct an infrastructure review of each pedestrian or bicyclist fatality that occurs on a State highway to identify deficiencies and appropriate corrective actions at the crash location. The bill further requires MDOT SHA to complete the review within 6 months after being notified of the pedestrian or bicyclist fatality and publish the review on its website. We hope that this new procedure will bring lifesaving changes to roads already proven to be unsafe for walking and biking, while we push for a more proactive approach to road safety statewide. See more about this bill at the link here.
HB 19, the Safe Walk to School Act, introduced by Delegate Jared Solomon, mandates that when new schools are constructed or when a school is renovated to add more that 100 students to the school, Counties must submit to the State a new Pedestrian Safety plan that would examine the area that is walkable and identify safe walking and biking routes to the school. More information about this bill can be found here.
HB 778, the Maryland Regional Rail Transformation Act, also introduced by Delegate Solomon, directs $13.9m in spending to expand MARC commuter rail service, including adding a third track on the Brunswick line between Rockville and Germantown, enhancements to the Penn and Camden lines, new regional service between Perryville, MD and Newark, DE, new regional rail service to Alexandria, VA and extending the Brunswick line to better serve Western MD. Spending must commence in fiscal year 2023 (beginning July 1, 2022). More work will be needed in the future to assure more funds are devoted to this purpose. For more on this bill, click the link here.
HB 141, Equity in Transportation Sector – Guidelines and Analyses, introduced by Delegate Sheila Ruth, requires MDOT when doing it’s periodic revisions of the Consolidated Transportation Plan (that guides transportation planning in the State), MDOT must “conduct a transit equity analysis, perform a cost-benefit analysis, consult with members and leaders of affected communities, and take specified actions based on the results of these activities before announcing (1) any service change that would constitute a major service change under specified federal guidelines or (2) any reduction or cancellation of a capital expansion project in the construction program of the Consolidated Transportation Plan.” No such equity analysis was performed prior to passage of this bill. This analysis will require consulting with affected communities for a State Plan that better addresses needs and improves transportation equity. . See more on this bill here.
SB 210, Employer Provided Commuter Benefits – Expansion, introduced by Senator Guzzone at the urging of MDOT, expands the amount of tax credits that the State is able to grant to employers to cover the costs of biking or walking to commute to work, as well as carpooling and teleworking costs. Bike commuters are able to help cover their costs for bike maintenance and gear, as well as bike and scooter share memberships. For more information, look here.
HB 53, which provides more enforcement relating to Bus Only lanes in Baltimore City and HB 73 which provides more funding for Complete Streets and Safe Routes to schools in Baltimore City also passed. See more on HB 53 here and HB 73 here.
Two bills made significant progress this the session, gaining passage in the House, but failing to pass out of committees in the Senate:
HB 656, Safe Access For All (SAFE) Roads Act of 2022, introduced by Delegate Charkoudian, would have mandated certain minimum amounts be spent by MDOT and SHA on making State roads safer for people walking and biking. The funds would have been used to address the huge backlog of safety fixes needed on State roads to address dangerous road conditions which often have resulted in serious injuries and deaths for those walking and biking. For more information on this bill click here.
HB 404, Speed Limits, introduced by Delegate Lehman, would have allowed local jurisdictions to study and then set lower speed limits on some State roads. Montgomery County already has this authority. See more here.
All of these bills passed, in part due to the efforts of WABA and BikeMD which provided written and some in person testimony and lobbying visits. WABA and BikeMD also organized members/supporters to send emails and make calls in support of some of these bills.
Together, bike advocates from all over Maryland made substantive progress on making walking, biking, and accessing transit safer and more available. We look forward to making even more progress, especially on dedicating State funds to active transportation and transit, next year! To become more involved, contact Peter Gray, WABA’s Maryland Organizer at email@example.com.