I will admit that I am only an occasional bicycle rider. When I do ride, it's at the Riverwalk, Chickamauga Battlefield, my neighborhood street or on the levee. Occasionally though I have ridden on city streets in the downtown area as part of an arranged "ride." I know of organizations that offer safe bicycle riding classes and that's a good thing. I have seen the bike riding lanes provided downtown and have seen the flasher for bike riders going through the McCallie Tunnels. However, I have never felt safe riding in the street even though I understand the benefits of exercise and being "green."
It was with much interest that I read the article in Wednesday's newspaper regarding Tennessee state law regarding bicycles. Bicycle proponents are quick to point out that there is the "3 foot rule" with
good reason given the tragedy of the cyclist fatality lately. However, it also goes on to mention several points that cyclists fail to mention. It mentions that cyclists are "subject to all dues applicable to vehicle drivers" which means of course that they should stop at stop signs and obey traffic signals. Unfortunately there are a few cyclists that choose to ignore these parts of the law while hiding
behind their "right" to be on the street. Nowhere is this more common than in the downtown area.
The biggest question that is raised in my mind though is the part of the law that states that "cyclists.....shall not impede the normal movement of traffic." By their very nature they impede traffic. In most cases the cyclist cannot ride with the prevailing traffic speed, and most cases it seems that cyclists impede traffic simply by being in the lane.
The prudent and safe course to take it would seem to me is to not ride a bicycle on a city street. To my friends and neighbors that feel differently, please be careful, and I will do my part to be careful around you.
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The answer is simple. Just like many metro areas, including Atlanta, the city should just provide a bike lane. It keeps bicycles within safe distances from other vehicles and does not impede traffic flow.
Bikes do have the right to be on the road. We just need to do what needs to be done for safety.
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Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., two bike riders ran the red light at the brick yard in Red Bank. They had all their silly looking clothes and dorky helmets on, but no brain on.
It is a very busy intersection anytime - much less rush hour. Had they had tags on their bikes like cars, one could report them to the police.
If bike riders want to use the roads, they should have to buy tags like automobiles so we could report them to police for their stupid life-threatening actions.
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When, I rode my bike in 1957 without shoes or a shirt, the last thing my mother said, as I walked out the door, stay out of the road.
Lookout Mountain, Tn.
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My friends, Let me break the news to you.. bicycles and cyclists are here to stay. I did not know David Meek, but my heart breaks for his family and friends.
I ride on my own and with friends regularly for health and recreation. But also, my other car is a bicycle. I ride to work (15 miles each way) as often as weather and time permits. I get great gas mileage and my exhaust is just a bit of CO2 and sweat. I have to admit that I wear those silly clothes and a reflective vest. At night and in low light I run so many lights and reflectors, I look like a Christmas tree rolling down the road. I stay to the right side of 'my' lane as long as it is safe for me to do so. I average about 15 mph; slower on the climb and a bit quicker on the down hill.
Yep, I am one of those slow moving vehicles that "real motorists" all over the country and the world have learned to safely approach and pass without too much fuss and quite often with a friendly wave (not the middle finger type). Why, I've even exchanged friendly and sometimes whimsical greetings with motorists while we wait for the light to change at an intersection. "Wanna race!"
I hear some folks whine and moan about other folks who choose to ride bicycles along the streets and roadways. Why are they so intimidated by a bicycle on the road? It's because the whiners tend to be somewhat insecure and just don't have confidence in their ability to drive a motor vehicle in a congested environment. Let's try to help them become better drivers.
1. Drive your car, truck, motorcycle, scooter, bicycle or horse drawn carriage.
2. Watch the road and intersections and sidewalks.
3. When you approach anything (bike, motorcycle, other car, truck or horse drawn carriage) that is moving slower than you are, slow down.
4. Pass with care and do your best to avoid contact with that slower moving anything, because if you hit it you may break it or kill it. Not a possum, squirrel or rabbit... You know, a person, a human, a living soul, the Marine that just came home from war, your dad, mom, son, daughter or just the guy down the street.
5. Now take a deep breath, smile a big ole smile and I'll smile right back at you. Maybe we can have a cup of coffee some day.
Now if the whiners just don't get it and the only solution in their mind is to "scream at me to get off the road" or "throw things at me" or "pass me real fast and real close to teach me my lesson." I'm sure the Lord will forgive you.
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Dorky helmets? C'mon, bicyclists wear helmets as a safety item. Bicyclists wear bright clothes so automobile drivers with their minds somewhere else might actually notice them. However, that doesn't change the fact that the two bicyclists were in the wrong to go through the red light at the brickyard in Red Bank.
That being said, Mr. Dempsey, do you want me to write in every time a pickup truck or SUV passes me closer than three feet when I'm on my bicycle? How about when they shout an obscenity or throw something out of their window? Do you want me to write in every time I see a car or truck speeding up Dayton Boulevard or rolling through a stop sign? I hope not, because if I did I would have some sore fingers.
I bike to work occasionally through Red Bank and I stop for every red light and stop sign. Yeah, I would like to roll through some of them, especially on side streets, but I don't. Cantankerous folks like yourself will not be happy no matter what, but there are those of us who obey the law and would like it if everybody had a tad more tolerance for everybody else. Yeah, I know, fat chance of that ever happening.
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I agree with Ms. Miller's remark in her response to this opinion column. We motorists are indeed "intimidated" by a bicycle on the road, as well we should be. These bicycles are practically indestructible and are better suited for safety on the roads than all other vehicles. We must always give them plenty of room to do as they please in traffic. They must be allowed to go as slowly as they want and disobey or bend any traffic law they so desire to benefit themselves.
It frightens me to think about how much damage one of these bikes would do to my car if we hit each other. I have heard horror stories about bike/auto accidents where the airbags and seat belts saved the bike rider from serious injury and the heavy reinforced welded aluminum/titanium frame of the bike caused major damage to the auto and took the life of its driver.
I am too "intimidated" to pass one of these massive battering rams because they might decide to just cross four lanes of traffic without so much as a hand signal or look back which could lead to the fatal injury of anyone in an auto unfortunate enough to be struck by it.
I say we should make it a law that all vehicles except bicycles are illegal to drive on the streets and highways. Just think of how many auto driver deaths we could prevent if we didn't allow them on the road with those massive, deadly, out-of-control bicycles. I don't think that law will be passed soon enough.
Until it becomes a law, I will not pass you cyclists and I will hold up traffic to protect the drivers behind me from possible death-by-collision with a bicycle while trying to pass you. I ask that you cyclists please take extra precaution while you are riding so that you might save the life of an innocent car driver. I pray that each and every auto and truck driver that travel our roads daily with those deadly bicycles make it home safely to their families.
In the meantime, I intend to continue using my "middle finger" as a mood indicator. I will, although, hold it below the door panel so the "bicycle" police won't haul me off to jail.