The breaking news from the 16th Annual Maryland Bike Symposium was more political than legislative or policy focused.
Del. Jon Cardin (D-Baltimore County), chair of the state’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Caucus and a longtime member of state’s Green Caucus, confirmed what he’s long been openly mulling — that he will be a candidate to become Maryland’s next attorney general in 2014.
Cardin, of course, holds uncle Sen. Ben Cardin’s old seat. Montgomery County state Sen. Brain E. Frosh has previously announced he will run for attorney general in 2014. Current Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler is expected to be a leading contender for governor in 2014, along with Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman.
Coincidentally, Ulman, pictured above (right) with Race Pace Bicycles owner and Bike Maryland board president Alex Obriecht, delivered the keynote address at the symposium, hosted by Bike Maryland, and was received warmly by the bicycling community. Ulman, who initiated the Healthy Howard program to increase access to health care in the county, also created the Howard County Office of Environmental Sustainability and has supported efforts to expand safe bicycling in the county, including the development of the county’s first Bicycle Master Plan.
Legislatively, in terms of bicycling bills, there doesn’t seem to be much moving in Annapolis this session.
House Bill 445, which would’ve clarified and repealed an exemption to Maryland’s existing 3-foot passing law, received an unfavorable report in the Environmental Matters Committee in February.
Also, House Bill 339, a controversial mandatory helmet law for all bicyclists, introduced by Baltimore City Del. Maggie McIntosh — and opposed by most bicycling advocates because of studies showing that helmet requirements deter bicycling — appears likely to stall this year. Currently, only bicyclists under the age of 16 are required to wear a helmet at all times in Maryland.
Another topic of conversation among the alternative transportation advocates, if not directly addressed at the symposium, was need for a transportation revenue bill to help fund maintenance and new, light rail projects, such as the proposed Red Line, connecting Baltimore County and Baltimore City, and the proposed Purple Line, connecting Montgomery and Prince George’s County.