Put a couple of “wins” in the bicycle column

Bicycle advocates should be happy about racking up a couple of victories toward the end of the week.

On a nationwide scale, bicyclists were able to turn back an attempt to weaken the federal regulations that require bicyclists and pedestrians get “due consideration.” On a smaller scale, a brouhaha over a suggested 10 mph speed limit for bicyclists on the Golden Gate Bridge prompted the bridge agency to study the matter further.

It just goes to show that we bicyclists can have a powerful voice when we speak together.

Consideration when 'appropriate'

The “due-consideration” battle alarms were sounded a week ago by the League of American Bicyclists. The group had discovered that the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials wanted to change a federal requirements that bicyclists and pedestrians be given “due consideration” in comprehensive transportation planning.

While the federal highway administration stipulate that “there must be exceptional circumstances for denying bicycle and pedestrian access,” the AASHTO sent a letter to the feds asking that the language for bicyclist or pedestrian access be reverted to “consider where appropriate.”

Outraged, the League set up an easy online method for bicyclists to contact their state highway officials who are members of AASHTO and ask them to withdraw the requested change. They did.

BikePortland and Transportation Issues Daily reported Friday that AASHTO officials withdrew the request and are meeting with bicycle advocacy leaders in May. This “due consideration” issue will be on the agenda. The full AASHTO will take up the issue this fall.

Golden Gate slowdown

Meanwhile, bicyclists in the San Francisco Bay area were blindsided earlier this week when the Golden Gate Bridge district administrators announced plans to impose a 10 mph speed limit for bicycles on the bridge to improve safety.

Bicycle advocates, who say they are normally consulted ahead of time about bridge issues, called it “a solution in search of a problem.” Violations would have carried a $100 fine.

Consider that there were 164 bicycle-involved crashes on the bridge over a 10-year period; speed was a factor in 39 percent of those. The SFWeekly did the math: 1 speed-related bicycle accident every two months. At 6,000 cyclists a day on the bridge, that works out to 1 out of 360,000 bicycle trips.

The bridge's Building and Operating Committee was scheduled to vote on the speed limit Friday. After being inundated with responses before the meeting and an hour's worth of opposition from bicycling groups at the meeting, the committee tabled the staff's 10 mph recommendation, reported the Bay Citizen.

That fact that it has just been tabled means it can come up again. Bicycle advocates hope they'll be consulted as part of the planning process next time and the solutions address other safety problems on the bridge, such as slippery metal plates on the bike path.

Now the bicyclists are facing another problem, the closure of the bike-only westside bike path. Beginning May 9, they'll have to cross the bridge on the eastside sidewalks with pedestrians.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.bikingbis.com/2011/04/23/put-a-couple-of-wins-in-the-bicycle-column/

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