Banning Bikes

Sometimes, cities try to deal with real or imagined bike problems by taking drastic measures. The Austin American-Statesman reported last week on an ordinance passed in Manor, Texas, that bans bikes from a stretch of road in the small city.

Manor is just east of Austin. The road in question is called Blake-Manor Road, and runs out of town to the southeast, giving bikers access to rural roads in the area. But it’s in bad shape, narrow, with large cracks and heavy traffic.

The Manor City Manager says the road is a “poor place” to ride bikes. He says there are other places for bikers to ride.

The map shows the road in question, marked in pink. There appear to be other city streets to ride, but getting out of town to the southeast — not so much.

The city has no plans to repair the road.

The ordinance passed after a cyclist filed a $250,000 claim with the city after being hurt in a bicycle accident on the road. The city denied the claim, since the accident happened outside the city’s jurisdiction.

Predictably, cyclists are claiming discrimination. They think the road should be fixed.

But in the meantime, enforcement of the cycling ban is expected to begin soon, and bikers could be in for a $200 fine if they ride the stretch in question.

Manor is on the opposite end of Austin from where I live, so I’m not familiar with the road in question, and I’m running this item simply to point out that sometimes, dealing with cyclists can take a drastic turn.

Have you run into situations in your locales where cyclists are prohibited from using public streets or roadways? How was it resolved?

Wrapping Up the Bike Fine Saga

Way back in August, I wrote about an incident involving some members of my club’s B ride who were ticketed for not stopping at a red light before making a right turn.

We were stunned to find that the fine for such a violation is $217. That struck most of us as excessive. The question became, what to do about it?

(BTW, I was not one of the ticketed riders. The incident happened while I was away on vacation.)

Two of the riders decided to simply pay the fine and avoid the hassle. A third, Judy, also planned to pay the fine, but because of an illegible date written on the ticket, discovered that she was overdue, and the fine had gone up to $275!

That’s a lot of money, so Judy requested a court date. In a municipal court situation like this, the options are to pay your fine, request a jury trial, or appear before a judge. Judy sat down with a prosecutor and played “Let’s Make a Deal.” She got a reduced fine of $150. (Traffic violations are dropped from your record if you don’t have another one within three months, but biking violations don’t appear on your driving record anyway.)

Pippa had to get a later court date, because she had to travel back home to the UK for a few weeks. When she did appear in court, she had a similar experience as Judy. But Pippa balked at the $150 fine. Can’t you do any better? she asked the prosecutor.┬áIt turned out that if she agreed to 10 hours of community service, he would reduce the fine to $111.

“Does the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center qualify for community service?” asked Pippa. The prosecutor flipped through a listing, and confirmed that it does.

“Perfect,” said Pippa. “I volunteer there anyway.” So Pippa wound up paying the least amount, and didn’t add work to what she was already doing.

The moral of the story: If you’re ever ticketed for a biking violation, request a court date. It’ll cost you less in the long run.

Some Reading Over Thanksgiving Break

We’re gearing up for a busy five days around our house. We’ll have relatives in for Thanksgiving. The holiday is not until Thursday, but they’ll come in Wednesday and stay until Sunday. My wife has some kind of activities planned every day for her sister, our son and his girlfriend, not to mention her sister’s dog and our dog. We’ll be busy.

So, I don’t expect to post for a few days. In the meantime, since I am a professor, I thought I’d leave you with some outside reading assignments for the holidays.

The first comes courtesy of Bike Noob reader Danny Ashton, who points us to a blog called Sidiergo.com. (Note from the Bike Noob — this is not the corporate blog for Sidi cycling shoes — that’s at sidisport.com. The sidiergo site is registered to Danny, who is in Manchester, UK. I do check the whois listing for unknown sites I am referred to.) He’s got a post there called “Nine Driving Habits That Most Annoy Cyclists.” I think we can all relate.

But most of us are drivers, too, and we know there are two sides to this coin. One of my favorite bike bloggers has been former frame builder Dave Moulton, and his latest post deals with that other side — bikers who just don’t get it. Check out “Stop Handing Them the Stick.”

Finally, there’s a nifty article from Scientific American magazine. Yep, you heard right. They’re wondering how to make cities more bike-friendly, and the solution they come up with is an interesting one: make them more women-friendly. In a nutshell, instead of putting bike lanes and bike routes through parks and along rivers, put them where people can use them for a purpose — heading toward grocery stores and daycare centers. (Attacks on my unintended sexism are welcome in comments.)

So, those should keep you satiated on things bicycle until I get back. It could be as early as Friday, or as late as Sunday. And wherever you are in the world, I hope you have as much to be thankful for as I do. Take care.