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Maryland roads cause safety concerns among area bicyclists

During the spring and summer months the warmer Maryland weather will entice bicyclists to put aside their car keys and start commuting on two wheels instead of four. A variety of reasons motivate Maryland citizens to begin biking, including environmental concerns, a desire to incorporate more exercise into their daily routine and the rising price of gasoline.

Whatever their reason for hitting the pavement, Maryland drivers are likely to see more and more biking enthusiasts on the roadways during these upcoming months. With this in mind, road safety advocates are raising concerns about the condition of some of Maryland's most popular biking throughways. They assert that roadways throughout the state, but especially in the D.C. area, should be renovated to decrease the number of bicycle-related car accidents caused by faulty road design.

Specific criticism from the biker community centers on River Road in Montgomery County. River Road is notoriously windy and narrow, often forcing bicyclists to move onto the road with the rest of the motor vehicles. River Road's lack of bicycle lanes combined with heavy, fast moving traffic creates a very dangerous situation for riders and drivers alike.

When a collision occurs involving a bicycle and a larger motor vehicle, the consequences can be disastrous for everyone involved. Without a car's outer shell to provide protection bike riders risk critical injuries to their head or neck, not to mention broken bones. Motorists who are forced to make sudden stops or turns to avoid a bicycle crash also risk swerving into oncoming traffic or causing a rear-end collision.

The creation of more bike friendly roads may become a long-term goal for Maryland state leaders, but for now both four and two-wheeled commuters can reduce road accidents by navigating the roadways with caution and paying close attention to their surroundings.

Source: WAMU, "D.C. Area Bicyclists Battle Not Just Cars, But the Road Itself."Elliott Francis, 3 May 2011

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