Li­cense to bike

Cars aren’t the prob­lem with ‘Share the Road’

GA Voice - - Columnists -

When­ever I am stuck in traf­fic, I al­ways as­sume a wreck is the cause. As I pass by any pile-up, I em­pathize with the po­ten­tial vic­tims and try to keep a calm head out of re­spect. But re­cently, I re­al­ized the nearly stand still traf­fic was be­ing caused by a bi­cy­cle and my blood boiled.

I will hon­estly say that I do not be­lieve in shar­ing the road. The weight of a car can be 4,000 pounds and a car can reach speeds well over 100 mph. In con­trast, the av­er­age bi­cy­cle ways about 30 pounds and an av­er­age rider can only go about 20 mph.

But some­how we have de­cided that the way to co­ex­ist is to travel the same roads to­gether in har­mony. How­ever, the bur­den of trav­el­ing safely to­gether ul­ti­mately de­pends on the driver slow­ing down, swerv­ing over, etc., in an ef­fort not to mor­tally wound this soul who is inch­ing up a hill on Roswell Road dur­ing rush hour.

Of­ten, I see a bi­cy­clist merge into ex­ist­ing traf­fic and block a lane while hold­ing his or her hand out im­pa­tiently for us to slow down as if we “car peo­ple” are the prob­lem. And if you come up on a pack of rid­ers, it is even worse since they have no prob­lem rid­ing side by side and tak­ing up an en­tire lane.

I’ve even been shocked while wait­ing for a light to turn green to see bi­cy­clists whizzing by my win­dow nav­i­gat­ing be­tween cars. Ap­par­ently they don’t have to wait for the light to ac­tu­ally turn green if they de­cide that there are no cars coming.

Once, I saw a cy­clist who did de­cide to wait on the light ac­tu­ally lean on my car for sup­port un­til the light turned green. I fought the urge to get out and ex­plain that I was not his pace car and tak­ing a break on my car so that he didn’t have to clip out at the light was not part of our deal.

This ar­ro­gance in­creases three­fold if a cy­clist is “spon­sored.” Ap­par­ently, a jersey that has a logo or two on it along with the aero- dy­namic Tour de France hel­met trans­lates to some ex­tra level of own­er­ship of the as­phalt. Some­times they seem to be tempt­ing some­one to hit them.

It does not look like At­lanta will ever cre­ate enough bike paths to get cy­clists off the main roads. But I do be­lieve there is a so­lu­tion that would at least make me feel like drivers and cy­clists were be­ing treated a lit­tle more fairly.

I want ev­ery­one who wants to put their bikes on the main road to get a li­cense and a tag. That cer­tainly isn’t a new idea. A sim­i­lar ef­fort took place last year in Ore­gon when a pro­posed bal­lot mea­sure sought to cre­ate a bi­cy­cle ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram for peo­ple who have not taken the Ore­gon driver’s test. It would also man­date more po­lice en­force­ment of traf­fic laws for cy­clists.

To pay for the new bi­cy­cle-spe­cific test­ing and the en­force­ment, the mea­sure would have re­quired a fee for the en­dorse­ment test and reg­is­tra­tion via a li­cense plate for all bi­cy­cles in Ore­gon.

By hav­ing li­cense plates on the bikes, the hope is that this would lead to more re­spon­si­ble be­hav­ior and make it eas­ier to hold rid­ers ac­count­able for their ac­tions.

At least if I were be­hind a cy­clist with a li­cense plate, I would know that my ex­tra ten min­utes in traf­fic were the re­sult of some ef­fort on the part of the rider and not just a flip­pant dis­re­gard for all the other tax paying ci­ti­zens on the road who are do­ing their best to dodge them.

To truly share the road, we must all share the re­spon­si­bil­ity for be­ing in each other’s path.

Melissa Carter is also a writer for Huff­in­g­ton Post. She broke ground as the first out les­bian ra­dio per­son­al­ity on a ma­jor sta­tion in At­lanta and was one of the few out morn­ing show per­son­al­i­ties in the coun­try. Fol­low her on Twit­ter @Melis­saCarter

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