Friday, May 19, 2006

Cyclists: Threat or Menace?

Ah, sunny Texas! Full of God-fearing, gun-totin' folks who respect the idea of personal freedom and responsibility, unless that involves letting liberal, bicycle-riding heathens out on public roads. I mean, after all, freedom needs SOME limits! Next thing you know, people will start criticizing George Bush and his orchestra. We can't allow that! Freedom is important, but only for those of us who can handle it. Some people aren't capable of making the right decisions when given the freedom to do so. They ought to be rounded up and put into camps for re-education!

OK. I'm done. For the humor-challenged, the above is sarcasm.

Those wonderful folks in Texas have enacted yet another bicycling ban, for the cyclists own safety, of course. If their roads are so dangerous, why don't they ban the cars?

Excerpts follow:

Bicycle ban angers cyclists
Anna: Riders want access to popular route; city cites safety issues

07:41 AM CDT on Friday, May 19, 2006
By JENNIFER EMILY / The Dallas Morning News

FM455 in Anna is quite curvaceous but has no shoulders.

Such a combination could be deadly, say city officials, who have banned cycling along the road.

An ordinance prohibiting bikes on the road cites the "danger and peril" of sharp curves and hills, limited vision, lack of a shoulder and an expected traffic increase.

"We're going to have a tragedy because that guy or that woman driving that car isn't going to see them until they're right on them," said Anna city administrator Lee Lawrence.

But bike enthusiasts say they should be the ones who decide where to ride and whether it's safe. Collin County cyclists once frequently traveled the road.

If safety is indeed the issue, let cyclists make the decision themselves, said Robin Stallings, executive director of the Texas Bike Coalition.

"We live in Texas. It's pretty independent. Texans get to decide for themselves about their safety," Mr. Stallings said. "We believe they are more concerned about motorists' inconvenience. Sometimes, you gotta slow down for grandpa, and sometimes you have to slow down for a bicyclist."

...Rusty Nail of Melissa, who compiles the Plano Bicycle Association newsletter and runs the group's Web site, said the ban is useless because the city does not enforce it. He also serves on Melissa's parks and recreation board.

"It's a major road from Weston to Anna. We probably put the blinders on so much trying to protect ourselves that we give over our freedom to the government," said Mr. Nail. "When do we say enough is enough?"

Cyclists suggest lowering the speed limit or putting up "share the road" signs instead of promoting a cycling prohibition.

Mr. Lawrence said lowering the speed limit isn't feasible. The ban was created after two nearby fatalities on similar roads, he said. Discussions are under way to widen the road between U.S. Highway 75 and Highway 5. But that won't solve the problem.

"That road was built for a 55 mph speed. What is being asked with that request is that we inconvenience the vast majority of the users to accommodate a very small amount of the users," Mr. Lawrence said. "I don't think that's a fair request."


Blogger James said...

Man, this is just the kind of stuff that ruffles my feathers. I can’t get over that quote in the last paragraph. How inconvenient it would be to drive a little bit slower. Poor motorists. If the road is so dangerous, I am sure that automobile drivers have been killed in accidents in which bicycles were not involved (imagine that). A lower speed limit could save the lives of any of the road users, not just the ones on two wheels.

At any rate, this kind of reactive legislation is exactly why we all should be involved in advocacy issues in our own communities. It could happen anywhere.

12:23 PM  
Blogger Paul Tay said...

Contrary to one opinion, the City WILL enforce the bike ban, if some idiot with a big dick rolls.

10:24 PM  

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