Monday, May 13, 2013

National Police Week Thread

Actually this post has nothing to do with cops.  Instead I want to go over a topic that I meant to write about last week.  City council discussed the safety of bicycle riders on local roadways, as well as that of skaters and roller bladers.  A plan to meet their needs came before city hall.
(The reason I didn't cover any city issues after last week's council meeting is because of the lack of interest in the video clips I include in the posts.  Usually I like to capture some footage of the meeting to complement the post; but the videos don't get a lot of hits.  Instead I opted to let those kinds of posts lie.)

Anyway, it was interesting to hear council discuss road safety for bicycle riders.  I have to give Jorge Vera props for acknowledging the issue, even though his concern quickly shifted to the inane subject of reflectors and lighting on bicycles.  One of his arguments centered on the need for bikers to equip their rides with proper reflective gear to make themselves visible to motorists.  I totally agree that bicyclists should employ every safety feature at their disposal every time they hit the road, but given Laredo's sketchy infrastructure, I think bike riders know better than to ride at night. 

Let's take into account the people who have to ride a bike because it's their only form of transportation.  These people might travel longer distances than those who ride for recreation.  Recreational riders stay within a certain area that's comfortable for them, and might ride occassionaly, as opposed to those who do it daily.  We don't have to install bike lanes all throughout the city.  But we do have to identify the need where one exists. 

If I had to ride my bike along Mines Rd., I would not ride on the shoulder.  That area is too busy with truck traffic, as well as regular motorists who come off and feed into I-35.  If I had to commute on Mines I would use the sidewalks.  The dirt surface next to the sidewalks also provides riders with a trail to ride on.  If triathletes or racers absolutely had to use Mines Rd. to train, they would have to pick the time and place to do so, when risks would be reduced.

The same goes with Shiloh Rd. -- If I had to ride it, I would use the sidewalks. 

Because Laredo has to deal with tractor trailers (especially now in the Eagle Ford Shale era), motorists, and visitors from Mexico, safety for bicyclists is a hard issue to tackle.  Bike lanes are not the answer; And relying on the judgement of drivers is not always the safe bet.  But options exist.  I think we need to build on the "sidewalk" infrastructure that's already in place to offer bicyclists safer routes.

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