Friday, June 4, 2010

Garth Road bicycling dangers could be alleviated with wider sidewalk

By Keith Clines, The Huntsville Times

June 04, 2010, 6:30AM
Bikes on Dug Hill RoadView full sizeBicyclists ride along Dug Hill Road.HUNTSVILLE, AL - Mary Ann Demaioribus wants to know if the city can do something to make bicycling on Garth Road safer.
DeMaioribus said that on a recent Saturday about 7 a.m. she was biking up a hill northbound on Garth Road toward Drake Avenue when not only a car passed her, but another car passed the car that was passing her.
"That was the last straw," DeMaioribus said in an e-mail. "What can be done to make Garth Road near Jones Valley farm safer for bikers? The road is very narrow with no bike lane. Garth Road is the only way a biker can go from the northern areas around Drake Avenue to the southern valley without going down to Whitesburg Drive."
DeMaioribus offered two suggestions if widening Garth Road is not feasible.
She said the city could ban automobiles and allow bicycles only on Garth Road from Jones Valley Elementary School to Carl T. Jones Drive for three hours on Saturday mornings.
"This is done in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park at Cades Cove every Saturday morning and it works beautifully," DeMaioribus said.
Her other suggestion is to widen the sidewalk on Garth Road for bikers and pedestrians to share.
Jo Somers, a city traffic engineer, said she was sorry to learn of DeMaioribus' bad experience. Unfortunately, she added, many motorists don't realize that cyclists have the same rights to the road and should be treated the same as other vehicles.
Closing Garth Road several hours on Saturday is not practical because of the few north-south roads in the area, Somers said.
Widening the sidewalk to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians is on theTraffic Engineering Department's wish list, she said.
"We recognize the safety benefits that would be derived by a bikeway and this improvement is much more economical than wider lanes on Garth," Somers said.


rocketless said...

Honestly it sound like she needs to assert herself more while using the road. If she is worried about a passing car, she should take up a position near the middle of the lane to force the passing car to go into the opposing lane traffic (if this is a two lane roadway). This will deter motorists from passing until the opposing flow roadway is clear for them to pass or the rider gets over when they feel safe to let the car pass them in the same lane (not recommended).

Tyler said...

To: rocketless

I agree with asserting yourself on the road, sidewalks are for pedestrians not bicycles. An important thing for all of us on bikes to remember is that our safety and lives are not worth a driver arriving at his or her destination 30s seconds earlier than they would have if you were not there. A car waiting an extra minute to safely pass a cyclist is not a major inconvenience and if a motorist feels the need to get to a destination without waiting to pass a cyclist then the driver needs to choose a different route with multiple lanes and/or with clear lines of visibility.

Tyler said...

On another note. I noticed the Huntsville Times wrote this article about Garth Road, but used and image of cyclist on Dug Hill Road.

Great Journalism Huntsville Times. You should all be fired.

Bello Velo said...

To rocketless
I have ridden properly on Garth and in a group and this had no effect and actually made it more aggressive and dangerous. Car passing blindly to oncoming traffic, motorcycle on the sidewalks.

We need to stop this nonsense that it's the cyclist and start addressing motorist behavior. Even other cyclists here are blaming cyclists.

What about ENFORCING the law and lets get Huntsville "finest" to do their job.

采瑩采瑩 said...


clintpatty said...

If anyone knows of grants for police departments to get more bike officers or more officers for a project involving bike related enforcement, I would like to help apply for it. I don't know if that exists or not. Maybe Huntsville could have a leading Bike Task Force to go along with the DUI Task Force.