The Labor Day holiday weekend provides Marylanders one last chance to get out and have some end-of-the-summer fun, especially those looking to head to the Eastern Shore.

Last year, more than 354,000 vehicles crossed over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge during the Labor Day weekend. Lower gas prices in 2016 mean that there is a good chance that vehicle volume will increase, and more vehicles mean more traffic.

The Baltimore Metropolitan Council (BMC)’s congestion management process analyzes where and when traffic in the Baltimore region tends to pile up and for how long it will stay congested by looking at data from the National Performance Measures Research Data Set (NPMRDS) congestion scans. Looking at 2015 Labor Day weekend data, staff members can conclude that those traveling to the Eastern Shore will hit less traffic by leaving on Thursday, September 1, instead of Friday, September 2.  

BMC provides the following animation from 2015 Labor Day weekend data - from Thursday, September 3, through Monday, September 7 - to show when traffic is heaviest.   You can pan around and zoom in and out on the roads you plan on traveling to get an idea of what traffic may be like this holiday weekend.   Each day’s map refreshes to the same scale and location.

 

Looking at the following data from the National Performance Measures Research Data Set (NPMRDS) congestion scans we can observe the heaviest traffic  on eastbound US-50 approaching the Bay Bridge between 4 and 6pm on the Thursday before Labor Day in 2015 with backups beginning between I-97 and the MD-2 exit and breaking up near MD-648 before the toll plaza.

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Conversely those who chose to leave on that Friday found a longer window of delays on US-50 eastbound from 2 to 9pm with more slowing at the toll plaza.

A Saturday departure shows also shows heavy traffic on US-50 eastbound approaching the Bay Bridge from 7am to almost 7pm with solid backups extending as far back as MD-2 at the midday peak.

Getting home from the beach poses an even more difficult challenge with backups from the Bay Bridge extending as far back as Easton, MD on westbound US-50 beginning at 10am and not ending until after 10pm.

The Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) offers travel tips for the Labor Day holiday weekend:

  • Travel off-peak when heading to and from the Eastern Shore. The best times to travel the Bay Bridge this weekend include:
  • Thursday - before 10 a.m. and after 10 p.m.
  • Friday - before 10 a.m. and after 10 p.m.
  • Saturday - before 7 a.m. and after 5 p.m.
  • Sunday - before 10 a.m. and after 10 p.m.
  • Labor Day - before 10 a.m. and after 10 p.m.

Getting around by walking and bicycling saves transportation costs, is good for the environment, and helps keep you in shape. Visit the following pages for information on why and how to use human-powered transportation.

Bicycling:

Why Commute by Bicycle?

Choosing a Bike Route

Accessories

Bike Comfort Tips

Bike Maintenance Tips

Bike to Work Day

Ready to get involved locally? Want to learn more?
The following are links to local and state organizations or government agencies, as well as national organizations which can serve as a clearinghouse for information on bicycle and pedestrian-related topics.

 

Pedestrian and Bicycle Information CenterLocal and State Resources

National Resources

National Center for Bicycling and Walking

Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center

www.bicyclinginfo.org

www.walkinginfo.org

www.pedbikeimages.org

 

Bicycle Commuting Resources  

  • D.C. Area on-line Bike to Work Guide - This guide is designed to ease the transition to bike commuting for Washington, D.C. area employees and to help employers encourage this smarter way to work.
  • Paul Dorn’s Bike Commuting Tips - A personal look at the changes involved in trying bike commuting and then sticking with it: “Just a few years ago I was in pretty poor shape: a pack-a-day smoker, a frequent drinker, a tendency for exercise avoidance, rarely outdoors. Hoping to encourage a healthier lifestyle, my partner (now wife) Marianne gave me an inexpensive mountain bike as a Christmas gift in 1994….”

 

For more information:
Regina Aris, raris@baltometro.org or 410-732-9572

CyclistGet a helmet! Helmets decrease the risk of head injury in crashes by 85% when worn properly. Be sure to fasten your helmet snuggly under your chin, and wear it level on your head, not tilted back. A helmet is a protective device, not a jaunty cap. That being said, there are some very stylish helmets out there. If you’re concerned you won’t “look cool” in a helmet check out some of the newer models, or decorate your own. Helmets should be replaced after a crash that impacts the helmet. Even if you don’t see a crack the inner core of the helmet might be damaged.


Get a check up! Both you and your bike need to be ready to ride. If you have any reason to be concerned about starting a new program of physical activity you’ll want to consult your doctor before getting started. Bicycling is a great low-impact activity that can help you get your recommended daily dose of exercise without spending long boring hours at the gym.
Wear a helmet
Your bike may need a check up too. The League of American Bicyclists has an ABC quick check which outlines some basic things to inspect on your bicycle before every ride. You might also want to consider having a professional tune-up. Find a bicycle shop that you trust and feel free to ask questions. Bike shops can be great resources.


Plan your route! Getting to work or school by bike isn’t going to be the same experience as getting there by car or bus.  Check out our Choosing a Bike Route section to learn more.


Follow the Rules of the Road
For the most part Maryland law treats bicycles as vehicles just like cars, motorcycles, limos etc. So, just like a driver, there are certain laws that you have a responsibility to follow. Here are the three most important for day-to-day cycling:

  • Ride to the right of the road; go with the traffic not against it. Drivers are used to looking a certain way to see if anyone is coming before they turn. Riding the wrong direction (against traffic) makes you more likely to get hit. As you ride with traffic keep to the far right of the lane you need to use. Ideally, try to give yourself about three feet between you and traffic and three feet on the other side between you and the parked cars. This way you can avoid dangers from either direction.
  • Obey all traffic laws. Just like a driver of an automobile you must follow traffic signals and road signs. Again, this is for your safety.
  • Use turn signals. But bicycles don’t come with turn signals! So use your hands. Learn proper hand signals for bicycles. The signals will help drivers predict where you’re going next.


Bike Lane MarkingRemember the Unwritten Rules

A safe bicyclist follows the rules of the road and also abides by the following "unwritten" rules.

  • Check behind you before changing lanes. This means looking back to check for cars or other cyclists. Even if you have a mirror you should still look back because the mirror has a limited field of vision and won't show you what's going on right next to you.
  • Ride as if you were invisible. That does not mean BE invisible. This simply means do not expect that drivers see you. Give yourself enough room to get out of the way if a driver makes a sudden turn, pulls over or flings open a car door. Check and double check that you are noticed before making a turn yourself.
  • Ride in a predictable fashion. That means following the rules of the road, and doing everything in your power to communicate to drivers and pedestrians what your next move (or stop) is.
  • Be seen. Wear bright colors, reflective tape or vests, have reflectors and lights on your bike, get a bike bell. These are all things you can do to increase your visibility. Even if you do not think you’ll be riding at night, lights are still a good idea. If you plan to ride through the fall it will be dark by the time you leave work!
  • See the road. Periodically look ahead 100 feet ahead for hazards in the road such as potholes or debris.

  

Save Money! Choose Commuter Choice

One of the best ways of making the region’s air cleaner is by reducing the number of single occupant vehicles on area roadways. But how can employers encourage workers to give up their automobiles for other modes of travel?

The Maryland Department of Transportation offers a menu of options called Commuter Choice Maryland. The program offers financial incentives, sometimes totaling in the thousands of dollars, to both employers and employees who explore alternative means of commuting.

Learn more at www.commuterchoicemaryland.com.
 
For more information:
Russ Ulrich, rulrich@baltometro.org or 410-732-9575.

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