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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Greensboro: Mean streets for bicyclists?

Image of a Yehuda Moon cartoon
From the News Record (Greensboro, NC), 04.06.08:

The streets can be mean around here to bicyclists
Theoretically, bicycling is supposed to be a healthy activity. And statistically, Greensboro, where the accident occurred, is supposed to be conducive to biking and walking -- relatively speaking, at least.

But you have to wonder. The numbers don't factor in close calls and abuse. And they only include those accidents that are reported to police.

Despite the spread of bike lanes (up to 14.5 miles now) throughout the city and such cyclist-friendly amenities as bike mounts on city buses, local drivers are not especially known for our willingness to share the road.

We cuss at cyclists...We throw stuff at them...Sometimes we even kill them.

But the law is incredibly soft on drivers who hit bicyclists. A crash that results in a bicyclist's death is only a Class 2 misdemeanor (six months in jail or a $500 fine or both), said (Greensboro transportation planner Peggy) Holland, who is herself a bicyclist. "Is it because we don't count? What's going on? Why doesn't the law protect us? If you hit a bicyclist, there really isn't much punishment for it." (Read more.)
Great column from North Carolina, reacting to a near-fatal collision involving a local bicyclist. If only more news outlets offered such intelligent writers.

Will more punitive legislation improve bicyclist safety? Maybe. Just as capital punishment prevents murder...right? Personally, I prefer that advocacy demand better road design--Complete Streets--which reduces vehicle speeds and improves safety for all road users.

Image: Yehuda Moon.
Visit: Interview with Bicycling in Greensboro President, Greensboro News-Record
Visit: As Gas Prices Rise, Cycle To Savings, WFMY-TV
Visit: Greensboro: Bicycle first in rat race, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site
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Anonymous said...

The problem is that most bicyclists are spandex clad road hazzards with a nasty attitude and no common sense who ALWAYS disobey the laws of the road. I have absolutely no problem with bikes in bike lanes or on sidewalks. But when they insist on riding on narrow curvy roads like Air Harbor and Lawndale, that SHOULD BE ILLEGAL. It is dangerous and simply stupid. I saw an accident on Air Harbor right in front of me. The dumb ass on the bike was riding in the middle of the narrow curve and a car tried to go around him and drove the car in the opposite lane off the road. The lady and child were injured. I know because I stopped. The biker drove on. You are BAD citizens. STAY OFF THE ROAD!

Paul Dorn said...

From what you describe, it clearly sounds as if the passing motorist was at fault, passing when unsafe. You may not like it, but traffic law gives bicyclists the right to the road, period. Motorists must always wait until it is safe to pass, period.

This particular cyclist may have been in the middle of the lane because it was unsafe to share the lane, or because there was road debris or bad pavement on the far right edge. This is entirely his legal right.

Bicyclists don't block traffic, we are traffic.

Forrest said...

Thank you for that defense! I bike in Greensboro almost daily, and sometimes, I have to ride down the street because there are no bike lanes and the sidewalks are illegal for bikes to ride on.
Yes, I have seen bikers do some stupid stuff, but drivers do stupid stuff as well. Everybody needs to practice awareness and understanding while on the road.