Get cyclists off highways

Reading the article about Claire Van Ekdom winning after a hit-and-run on Furys Ferry Road (“Teenager prevails year after mishap,” June 21) – and its reference to Army Maj. Matthew Burke, M.D., who died after being hit while riding a bicycle – points out to me the unnecessary danger of allowing cyclists on high-speed, two-lane roads.

 

We already acknowledge that cyclists and high-speed traffic do not mix by forbidding them on interstates and other controlled-access highways, yet we seemingly encourage them on the most narrow and winding of our roads.

The problem lies in the vast speed difference between these vehicles. I regularly encounter packs of cyclists on Ga. Highway 28 and U.S. Highway 221 going to the lake. Luckily, I have not had the ultimate misfortune of striking one, but the scenario is indeed frightening.

If I am driving a motorhome or semi-truck and come around one of the numerous blind corners on those routes to find the road blocked by six to 12 cyclists nearly stopped in my lane, only fortune will save them if the oncoming lane is filled with opposite traffic. No amount of whining about their “right” to use the roads will overcome the laws of physics.

The laws that gave bicycles equal access and standing to use our highways are a legacy of the 1900s, when the cars of the time were nearly equal in speed to the cyclists. Relying on legal fiction is cold comfort to the widows and parents of those maimed and killed by these frequent and predictable encounters.

Our legislators need to change the laws and restrict bicycle use to those roads with speed limits of 45 mph or lower, or those with dedicated bicycle lanes.

In this era of cell-phone-blabbing bubbleheads in SUVs and other distracted drivers, this is one set of tragic deaths that can be stopped by commonsense laws.

Johnnie Poole

Augusta

 

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