Anti-Bicycle Policing Must Stop

UPDATE (2/20): It took a while, but Mr. Densmore's report was changed to reflect the actual circumstances of the crash! He is now processing his insurance claims.

UPDATE (1/30): After our blog post went live, Baltimore Police responded and promised that an amendment to the report would be filed. We will stay on this to be sure that the amendment is filed, but for now it appears that, thanks to our advocacy, this issue will be resolved soon. Please do not send any more angry e-mails to Baltimore Police...for now!

On December 3, 2013, Henry Densmore was riding his bicycle on the Jones Falls Trail. On President Street between Fayette and Baltimore Streets the trail is on the sidewalk and clearly marked as such. At the corner of President Street and Baltimore Street, Mr. Densmore entered the crosswalk with 13 seconds to go, and a box truck accelerated into him. The truck driver stopped after the collision and admitted to illegally turning right on red. This is the truck:

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Henry Densmore was crossing legally within a section of sidewalk clearly marked as a bicycle/pedestrian path, and the officer wrongly told him that he was illegally riding on a sidewalk. Despite copious evidence that the truck driver was 100% at fault, Officer M. Baldwin’s police report states that Mr. Densmore and the truck driver each had 50% responsibility. According to Mr. Densmore, Officer Baldwin said that the trail is for walking and the sign shouldn't show a bicyclist. He even said that the sign should be graffitied. Further attempts to engage Police higher-ups on this issue have led nowhere; it is our goal to convince the Police to issue a correction to the report stating that Mr. Densmore was at no fault in this crash, so that he can get reimbursed for his wrecked bicycle and for medical costs.

Here is a diagram of the collision.

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The photo below was taken from Mr. Densmore’s perspective before the crash. He was traveling south along the sidewalk on the east side of President Street. The bicycle wayfinding sign clearly shows that bicycles are allowed on this section of sidewalk.

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Henry was bicycling south along the Jones Falls Trail, which, as the below screenshot from Google Maps’ bicycle layer shows, goes along the eastern sidewalk of President Street between Fayette and Baltimore Streets, then crosses President via the southern crosswalk.

The truck driver was on Baltimore Street, just east of President, facing west, and was attempting to make a right onto President. As the photo below shows, a driver in this position has only one legal option: a right turn on green. In Mr. Densmore’s collision, the driver’s light was red.

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As the below photo shows, the yellow sign to the left of the crosswalk indicates that people are allowed to cross on bicycles via the crosswalk. The white car in this photo is in the same position as the truck that hit Mr. Densmore

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Here is another view of the bicycle/pedestrian crossing sign that Officer Baldwin claims was somehow improperly installed by the Baltimore City Department of Transportation (BCDOT).


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