No accountability for driver who hit bicyclist

March 16, 2011

On behalf of my colleagues, I send best wishes for a speedy recovery to 20-year-old Nathan Krasnopoler, the bicyclist who is recovering from a coma after being hit by a motorist on February 26th. Mr. Krasnopoler was safely riding his bike in a marked bike lane on University Parkway in Baltimore when he was hit by a motorist who failed to yield.

Mr. Krasnopoler's injury is disturbing, but it is made even more disturbing because there will be no reckoning. That is to say, the driver who hit Mr. Krasnopoler will face no criminal charges despite the apparent violation of the law. Just last year, the legislature passed and the governor signed the "three foot rule" with the specific intent of preventing this type of accident. The "three foot rule" requires motorists to yield the right-of-way to the cyclist lawfully riding in the designated bike lane or on the right-most side of the road and to give a 3-foot buffer when attempting to pass. Therefore, the motorist's action, while possibly accidental, was nonetheless illegal. We cannot hope to deter this type of horrible accident unless the police enforce the three foot rule and other laws which both protect the lawful cyclists and cite bicyclists when they violate the rules of the road.

Legislation such as the "three foot rule" is not intended to punish drivers but to preserve the right of cyclists to ride safely. More and more people are using their bikes for commuting, recreation and other reasons. As cyclists merely want to ride from place to place safely, drivers need to be made aware of the increasing number of cyclists and their right to arrive without injury.

Del. Jon S. Cardin, Annapolis

The writer, a Democrat, represents District 11 in Baltimore County.

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