June 04, 2010, 6:30AM
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.