“Bill before Gov. Perry aims to help drivers, cyclists share the road”

June 8th, 2009

It was bound to happen sooner or later. An article appeared in yesterday’s edition of Fort Worth Star-Telegram on the topic of the so-called “Safe Passing” Bill (SB488/HB827). Hyperbole and misinformation were well represented within the 852 word treatise.

Under current law, cyclists are allowed to ride in traffic lanes, but they must stay as far to the right as practical.

Er, um, no. §551.103(a) states, “a person operating a bicycle on a roadway who is moving slower than the other traffic on the roadway shall ride as near as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway”. Practical and practicable are substantially different concepts. To confuse the two is irresponsible.

Anyway, revisions to the Transportation Code will take place in Chapter 545; the FTR rule appears in Chapter 551. Suggesting that the proposed legislation will have any bearing upon or modify the FTR rule is a MacGuffin.

They must also obey traffic laws, stop at stoplights and stop signs, and make turn signals with their hands.

True and those facts will not change under the proposed legislation.

Cyclists and runners have long complained that drivers are aggressive, while motorists complain that cyclists don’t follow the rules.

I am a cyclist and a runner; I have not made any such complaints. It has not been necessary, since I operate my bicycle in a lawful and competent manner. Sure, there is an occasional motorist who is harassing in one form or another, but they are few and far between. This legislation will not mitigate that activity.

It’s almost like you are legislating common sense.

— Terry Grisham, spokesman for the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department

That is what many of us have been saying for months.

Cyclists who ride every Tuesday and Thursday at the Benbrook YMCA were excited and hopeful that drivers and cyclists will adhere to road rules.

Really? Photos accompanying this article show cyclists riding three, four… up to six or more abreast on rural roads. §551.103(c) states:

Persons operating bicycles on a roadway may ride two abreast. Persons riding two abreast on a laned roadway shall ride in a single lane. Persons riding two abreast may not impede the normal and reasonable flow of traffic on the roadway. Persons may not ride more than two abreast unless they are riding on a part of a roadway set aside for the exclusive operation of bicycles.

To suggest that cyclists need protections as “vulnerable road users”, while simultaneously showing them operating selfishly and illegally smacks hypocrisy. One cannot have their cake and eat it too. Their perception of vulnerability is a direct result of their lack of adherence to established law. Many conflicts between cyclists and motorists are the direct result of incompetence or lack of training on the part of one, the other or both road users. From what I can tell, in this instance, it is largely the cyclists at fault. All road users must educate themselves about the law and operate according to the rules of the road.

Legislation is not the answer; education is.

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