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If people will squish turtles, bikers don't have a chance

Posted: January 20, 2013 - 1:07am

Did you read about the new state law the Georgia Legislature just passed?

Starting July 1, if you’re driving a passenger vehicle on any interstate highway and a tractor-trailer approaches from behind, you are required to move over and let it pass – even pulling into the breakdown lane if necessary.

The rationale behind this new law seems to be that big trucks are on the highways for business purposes, while many of the cars are there for recreation or pleasure. The truck drivers also pay higher taxes, so they’ll now receive preferential use of the highways.

Just kidding. There is no such law, thank goodness. Trucks will have to continue sharing the road with everyone else. But how did it make you feel to think your car’s use of the highway was less valid than those trucks?

If you answered “not too good,” then maybe you’ve got just a taste of what the people in the bicycling community go through on a routine basis.

It’s no joke that state law gives bicyclists the same right to ride on non-interstate highways as cars.

Don’t like it? Think it isn’t fair? It doesn’t matter. It’s still the law, and dislike of the law doesn’t give anyone the right to ignore it – or worse, to vent their frustration on other law-abiding citizens just because they think those citizens are “arrogant.”

Yeah, how rude of those bicyclists to ride on a highway. The nerve. (You couldn’t pay me to ride a bike on the highway, by the way – but I certainly respect the rights of those who do.)

Thank God Columbia County Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Benson is going to be OK. He was struck by a pickup truck a couple of weeks ago while riding off-duty on his own bicycle on Furys Ferry Road in McCormick County. Kathy Howle of Evans, the woman whose pickup hit him, was charged with “driving too fast for conditions,” a catch-all charge that cops can use when nothing else works. After all, if your car was moving and involved in a crash, it stands to reason that you were going “too fast” for whatever “conditions” there were.

In that case, the “condition” was that three vehicles in front of that inattentive driver managed to drive past Benson without incident. She didn’t. He’s lucky to still be alive.

After the crash, many of the people discussing the issue – in print, online, on social media – seemed less concerned with the safety of Benson and other cyclists than they were with griping about bicyclists getting in the way of their cars.

Columbia County Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Randy DuTeau, an avid cyclist, calls it a “backlash” that seems to occur whenever there’s a car-bike conflict.

None of the animosity toward bicyclists made much sense to me until I saw the disturbing results of research from Clemson University.

Nathan Weaver, a senior agriculture student, was studying ways to help turtles cross roads, which often is necessary for them to visit different ponds for breeding purposes.

What he found out was that a shocking number of people go out of their way to run over turtles – including little box turtles and painted terrapins.

Why? No one seems to know. Other researchers said Weaver’s observations provide a window into the “dark side of the human soul.”

If some people would use the power behind the wheel of a two-ton chunk of machinery to kill defenseless turtles, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that they’d resent having to share the road with bicyclists – even when real laws require them to do so.

(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimesonline.com, or call 706-868-1222, extension. 106. Follow at www.twitter.com/
barrypaschal.)

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Comments (2)

soapy_725

If you don't behave, mommie will

make you go play in the road. Playing in the road whether on foot, bike or gold cart is dangerous. But we all have rights. Ego mania and stupid are equal opportunity employers.

ymnbde

laws of physics

completely override the laws of the smartest of people, no matter how good their little blessed hearts.
Drivers have the "right" to drive 55 mph in the left lane on i-20, too. Not smart.
The woman who hit the narcissist riding 30 mph less than the truck is a victim too. A victim of the careless politicians. Were they watching jerry springer when they made this law? 3 feet? From a tractor trailer? The first driver had no obstruction between her and the bicycle. The second had only the first driver. One through three blocked the woman in the fourth car.
This is a bad law, and this newspaper should at least be able to cognitively identify both sides of the issue. But i guess they have the "right" to their limited cognition.

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