Va. and Md. debate bike safety laws

WASHINGTON – Both Maryland and Virginia are considering new legislation when it comes to bicycle safety.

Currently, anyone under the age of 16 has to wear a helmet when riding a bike in Maryland. Some lawmakers say that rule should apply to all cyclists.

However, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) disagrees. The group encourages helmet use, but opposes mandatory helmet laws.

WABA says helmet laws discourage people from riding bikes and that puts fewer cyclists on the roads, making conditions all around less safe for bikers.

Doug Landau, a personal injury lawyer specializing in bike law, does not agree with WABA’s approach.

“We’ve seen far too many cases where it appeared that a cyclist had a minor injury only to find out later that there was damage to the brain,” he says.

The helmet debate continues in Maryland’s General Assembly.

A bill that failed this year in the Virginia General Assembly is likely to resurface again next year. The potential legislation would cite drivers or passengers in parked cars who, upon opening the car door in the path of a cyclist, hit a cyclist. This incident is often referred to as “dooring.”

Landau says dooring almost always results in a fracture for the cyclist and sometimes results in a catastrophic injury.

Opponents of the bill felt that the law was unnecessary.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2013 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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