By: Matthew Tievsky
Years ago, Maryland’s legislature (the General Assembly) passed a
law permitting cyclists to ride within crosswalks, like pedestrians. However
– possibly as an oversight – the General Assembly did not
also pass a law stating that cyclists, like pedestrians, are entitled
to the right-of-way while inside crosswalks.
This omission had serious consequences in December of 2015, when 19 year-old
Frank Towers was riding a bicycle across a busy Montgomery County road.
Towers was careful to cycle only within the crosswalk as he crossed the
street. However, a Toyota 4Runner struck and killed Towers in the road.
Although the driver was criminally charged, he was found not guilty by
a judge. The reason is that, under Maryland law as it existed then, Towers
did not enjoy any legal protection by being in the crosswalk, because
he was a cyclist and not a pedestrian.
The injustice of this case motivated the General Assembly to take action
and correct the apparent mistake in the law. Beginning in October of 2017,
in Maryland, cyclists will enjoy the right-of-way within crosswalks, the
same as pedestrians. (This law will only apply in places where the local
ordinances permit bicycles to ride on sidewalks.) By making this change,
Maryland joins Virginia and the District of Columbia, which already provide
cyclists with the right-of-way in crosswalks.
If you or anyone you know has been injured in a bicycle or automobile collision,
you should contact the personal injury attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman,
Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., for a free consultation.