Cycling group promotes safety, education

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Despite increased advocacy for cycling awareness since the 2011 death of a surgeon struck while riding in Aiken County, Au­gusta-area cyclists say more could be done to enforce cycling laws in Geor­gia.

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Jim Ellington, a member of Wheel Movement CSRA's board of directors, pulls on gloves before leaving on a night ride. Ellington said the group wants to help in the training of law enforcement.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Jim Ellington, a member of Wheel Movement CSRA's board of directors, pulls on gloves before leaving on a night ride. Ellington said the group wants to help in the training of law enforcement.

Matthew Burke, a 38-year-old orthopedic surgeon at Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center, was left in a coma in Octo­ber 2010 after he and five other cyclists were struck by a vehicle on Beech Island Avenue. Burke died the following February.

The death had a ripple effect through the community and led to the formation of Wheel Movement CSRA, a nonprofit cycling advocacy group that aims to educate cyclists and motorists on Georgia’s bicycle laws.

“We’re generally trying to encourage safe cycling for all members of the community,” said Jim Ellington, a member of the group’s board of directors.

He said the group is putting together public service announcements to be distributed throughout the area to raise awareness of the laws.

Drew Jordan, the manager of Andy Jordan’s Bicycle Ware­house in Augusta, said authorities could do more to enforce current laws.

“You can have every perfect law made to protect cyclists, but if they’re not enforced, they’re no good,” he said. “That being said, I understand the police officers have a lot going on and it might be hard for them to enforce every little thing that they see.”

Richmond County sheriff’s Lt. Ra­mone Lamkin said he doesn’t place blame on the cyclists or the motorists; he says both groups contain people ignorant of the law.

“Once you ride the bike and you’re an active vehicle, you have to follow all the same rules as a car,” he said. “At the same time, the motorists need to understand that cyclists have all the same rights they have. It’s not uncommon to see someone on a bicycle run a red light because they think that it doesn’t apply to them.”

Martinez cyclist Ryan Dil­lard said that, in his experience, most motorists ignore Georgia’s law requiring a 3-foot buffer zone between a cyclist and a vehicle attempting to pass them. Some motorists, and even some law enforcement officers, don’t recognize bicycles are vehicles in Georgia, he said, and are not allowed on sidewalks if the rider is older than 12.

“(Officers) just see us as a nuisance,” Dillard said.

Dillard rides his bicycle with a GoPro camera strapped to the handle bars, and he recorded an encounter with a motorist last month who he said passed too close. When the motorist became more aggressive with his driving, Dillard called police.

When Richmond County deputies arrived, one told Dillard that he doesn’t “necessarily have the right of way.”

The deputy also said cyclists must stay within five feet of the curb, though Georgia law doesn’t make any such designation. The law requires that cyclists “ride as near to the right side of the road as practicable, except when turning left or avoiding hazards to safe cycling.”

Wheel Movement CSRA has a plan to help law enforcement with the intricacies of the law, Ellington said.

“Law enforcement officers have to have a certain number of hours of continuing education each year,” he said. “What we would like to do is to work with some of our local law enforcement agencies and have some of
our folks help with that training.”
Lamkin said he would promote educating motorists and cyclists on the laws in order to have more cooperation.

“I would be more than happy to see educated cyclists and motorists on the road at the same time,” he said.

Comments (9) Add comment
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thauch12
7062
Points
thauch12 01/13/14 - 01:07 am
6
0
In response to the title of

In response to the title of this article: "Common sense group promotes common sense."

I get the whole argument that bicyclists want to feel safe on the road and are legally allowed to use roadways. On the other hand, the laws of physics and common sense dictate that's not always the greatest of ideas especially considering very few of the roads in the area are designed for bicycle traffic.

thauch12
7062
Points
thauch12 01/13/14 - 01:10 am
0
0
repost

repost

itsanotherday1
48156
Points
itsanotherday1 01/13/14 - 09:50 am
2
2
Motorists and cyclists

Motorists and cyclists coexist all over the rest of the world, especially Europe and parts of Asia. I don't see why it can't be any different here, unless they are just smarter than we are.

GiantsAllDay
10463
Points
GiantsAllDay 01/13/14 - 10:18 am
4
1
The 3 foot rule is widely

The 3 foot rule is widely ignored. A car must give >3 feet when passing the bike. That is about the length of you arm, stretched sideways from your shoulder to your fingertips. Also, you cannot cross over a double yellow line when passing a bike. So if you can't give 3 feet, you have to stay behind the bike.

oldredneckman96
5115
Points
oldredneckman96 01/13/14 - 10:34 am
4
4
Common sense?
Unpublished

Some common sense applied when studying the laws of physics will tell you bicycles do not fit into the system we have for our public roads. Any bicyclist thinking that a law will keep them safe is not using common sense. Common sense would tell anyone that if they wish to use a bicycle on public roads the safest way is to ride is using the same rules of a pedestrian and realize that even then, you are no match for a vehicle that is out of control. Our public roads have been improved over the years but no magic will make it safe for two completely different types of transportation to co-exist. Cars do not use the railways, aircraft do not use the highway, and for the same reasons bicycles should not be classified as a vehicle.

itsanotherday1
48156
Points
itsanotherday1 01/13/14 - 10:46 am
4
1
Why does it work everywhere

Why does it work everywhere else in the world? In much of Europe the roads are a helluva lot older and more narrow than ours.

I suspect that if tax money was appropriated to build bike lanes ya'll would gripe about that too. That mentality permeates this area and is a prime reason Augusta is always playing catch-up to similar sized cities; "If I personally don't do it, I don't want to pay for it". That is a short-sighted position for making an area attractive for growth.

grinder48
2051
Points
grinder48 01/13/14 - 02:11 pm
0
0
Common Sense & Taxes
Unpublished

I'm not promoting rudeness or being unsafe to bicyclists but come on, like it or not, bicycles don't belong on roadways. like some posters wrote above, comon sense, 50 lb bike vs 3000 lbs, no matter who is a fault, bike loses. Also want to point out that cars and trucks use gasoline & diesel fuel. Cost of these fuels include road use taxes. Bicycles don't use this fuel so don't pay the road use tax.

corgimom
38248
Points
corgimom 01/13/14 - 04:21 pm
1
2
In the CSRA, most roads

In the CSRA, most roads aren't anything more than paved farm-to-market roads. They were designed for horses and wagons, not automobiles and bicycles.

That 3' rule doesn't work in Augusta, you can't have 3' and not cross the line, especially when the bike rider doesn't ride near the curb.

And that's not the driver's fault.

There are also laws that say if you are slower than the traffic behind you, you must pull over and let them pass- but I've never seen a bike rider do that.

It works both ways.

Personally, I think that anybody that rides bikes on the roads in the CSRA is courting disaster, but that's just me.

mosovich
858
Points
mosovich 01/13/14 - 08:42 pm
1
2
I got an idea..

Let's just quit riding bikes, get fat and lazy.. Then our community can be known as the "Fat & Lazy" city! I mean, for goodness sakes, that's gotta be better than being known as an area that is progressive and wants young people with families to come here for jobs and such.. Yep, I've hit the jackpot on this one! Augusta GA. The only city in America that promotes being fat and lazy, because the towns folk can't be bothered with people trying to exercise, rather than healthy and fit! Now, time to go get some fried chicken and smokes!!

oldredneckman96
5115
Points
oldredneckman96 01/13/14 - 09:04 pm
1
2
Daniel Johnson
Unpublished

When Daniel Johnson ran into the group of cyclist playing in the road on Beech Island, the very fact he hit so many was proof that most of them were not following the rules they had lobbied for. If they had been following the rules and properly spaced on the right side of the lane Daniel could not have hit six at one time. Think “bowling pins.” Yes, Daniel was railroaded into a plea agreement, he had the weight of the “politically correct” on him. Daniel, like most of us, will never be the same, he had no way out of a bad situation. As with blacks, gays, pot heads or any minority group, cyclist must learn you can not get respect by demanding it, respect must be earned by actions that show your respect for the majority.

Travis Highfield
351
Points
Travis Highfield 01/13/14 - 09:42 pm
2
1
Corgimom...

There is no law in Georgia that requires a cyclist to stop if he or she is moving slower than the traffic behind them because bicycles are classified as vehicles. That's where the law requiring three or more feet to pass comes into play. If the motorist cannot legally pass, they are to stay behind the cyclist until they are able to do so.

SemperParatus
3225
Points
SemperParatus 01/13/14 - 09:55 pm
1
1
Thanks, Drew Jordan, for all

Thanks, Drew Jordan, for all that you and your father do for bicycling in the CSRA!

crockpot2001
81
Points
crockpot2001 01/14/14 - 07:04 am
0
1
Did you mean to type that out loud?

Old redneck man wrote, "As with blacks, gays, pot heads or any minority group, cyclist must learn you can not get respect by demanding it, respect must be earned by actions that show your respect for the majority"

I'm floored that you feel this is a valid argument for pretty much about anything.

Furthermore, "Bowling pins" can be knocked down in a straight line too. They need not be in a clumped mass as you imply. If someone rear ended your car you would be PO'd and self righteous about it for sure.

Cargimom - NO TICKET HAS EVER BEEN ISSUED FOR CROSSING THE YELLOW LINES TO SAFELY PASS. Ever....ever....I repeat ever.

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