Tuesday, March 31, 2009

City to mark bike month with ride led by Battle

This is happening here:)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Times Staff Writer john.peck@htimes.com
Officials hope to have updated map of trails by May

Huntsville will kick off National Bike Month in May with a safety awareness blitz and a symbolic ride led by Mayor Tommy Battle.

On May 2, Battle will lead a short group bicycle ride through town, Battle said at a news conference Monday.

"Cyclists and citizens from across the community will ride as more of a symbol that we are a bike-friendly town," Battle said.

Battle said more than half the promised 100 "Share the Road" signs have been erected around the city, and news public service announcements are planned to educate motorists and bicyclists on rules of the road.

City planners are also updating a map of the city's 158 miles of bike paths and greenways for mass distribution, possibly by May. City leaders are also looking for opportunities to widen shoulders or build dedicated bike lanes in city road improvement projects.

The bike safety initiatives kicked into gear last fall with the formation of a Bicycle Advisory and Safety Committee. The panel was formed after the death in September of a 20-year-old University of Alabama in Huntsville student who was struck by a car as she cycled from campus to her Old Madison Pike apartment.

Capt. Rodney Baker, head of the police department's bike patrol unit, stressed Monday that bicyclists have the same right to the roadways as motorists, but must also follow the same rules including riding with the flow of traffic, obeying all road signs and traffic signals, and using lights at night.

Motorists, meanwhile, should respect cyclists' rights and approach them slowly and give them at least three feet of clearance when passing.

Baker said officers have been instructed to use "discretion" in deciding whether to enforce a city ordinance banning bicyclists from riding on sidewalks.