Pedaling Toward Progress

The recreational paths have the same asphalt as the roads, maybe even a bit finer. It’s true they meander more than straight-line roads, I can’t go too fast without compromising safety, and there may be a few more bumps, but riding is still great exercise.

Yet I see cyclists on their thin-tire racing bikes on motorized roadways with little or no discernible shoulders, sometimes riding two and three abreast, moving along at a good clip for a bicycle, but turtle-slow for a car. It’s impossible to get around them and, even if they move into a single-file line, passing them often requires going over the center line or hugging it while trying not to nudge the bikers off the road.

There are bike enthusiasts who say they have just as much right to be on the road as cars. In theoretical or constitutional terms that may be correct, although I’m not sure it’s ever been challenged. But in common-sense terms, it’s like saying one has the right to fish in the middle of a competition waterskiing lake. It may be true, but the chance of getting capsized is higher than catching fish.

What really concerns me is that, if a car does hit a bicyclist, who will be held accountable? If the driver was carefully passing a biker on a road with little or no shoulder and the biker swerved into the car, would the driver be liable? He was driving on a roadway designed for motorized vehicles and hit a rider on a roadway not designed for bikes.

I don’t have an answer here, other than to implore bike riders to use common sense and basic principles of safety, and stay off roads with no shoulders and lots of high-speed traffic. Or perhaps pull off the road when you see a long line of traffic behind you on a road designed for 45 miles per hour when you’re riding at 15 to 20 mph.

I hope folks weigh in on this topic. I’d like a reality check to see if this is something I’m just being an old fuddy-duddy about or if, indeed, there is room for discussion. What would a pirate say?

Randy Gaddo, a retired Marine, is Director of Leisure Services (parks, recreation, library) in Peachtree City, Ga. Contact him at (770) 631-2542 or e-mail dls@peachtree-city.org

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Related posts:

  1. Pedaling Park Maintenance
  2. Bike Lasers
  3. Showing The Colors
  4. Pedal Power
  5. Technological Challenge

One comment on “Pedaling Toward Progress

  1. Dick Bailey on said:

    Randy,

    As you seem well aware there are many different types of cycling with different needs. Therefore, the solution to safe accommodation is different for each. I agree with your observation that trying to convert roads that were not designed for cycling traffic can be a significant challenge. New design concepts for Total Streets that attempt to include pedestrian and cycling use as well as auto use are a big step forward.

    In our community the cyclists have tended to want to be treated as part of the road traffic. I believe this limits the potential for better integration of a wider range of cycling opportunities. Hopefully through better design and consideration of the broader spectrum of transporation needs that include walking and cycling our cities can become more user friendly and healthy. As recreation providers we should have a strong voice in these debates. Thanks for a thought provoking topic.

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