With a 4-0 vote last month by the Bartonville Town Council, the town became one of the first communities in the area to regulate bicyclists like they regulate parades or public events.
Any group of 10 bicyclists or more must now apply 45 days in advance of the ride and pay a $50 permit fee. Tensions are running high between some members of the Bartonville community who say cyclists have been abusing their property and some bicyclists who think the new regulation is unfair.
Bartonville Mayor Ron Robertson said they simply want cyclists to obey Texas laws instead of exhibiting behavior including running stop signs and littering.
“They will throw banana and orange peels in our bar ditches, and they use our town hall as a urination center,” Robertson said, though adding that he did not support the new rule because he feels it will be too difficult to enforce. “But if the cyclists would not abuse our town and if they would abide by state laws that are already in place, then we wouldn’t have had to enact the new regulation.”
Both sides agree that Bartonville is a very popular spot for cyclists to ride through, enjoying the tree lined roads and beautiful scenery. Flower Mound resident Bob Pinard, president of the Infinity Cycling club, said there could be up to 400 bicyclists on the roads in the Bartonville area on any given weekend. Mayor Robertson agreed. “The bicycle traffic is constant, especially on weekend mornings, and they pull up to town hall and unload their bikes, and then after the ride, they come back and urinate outdoors behind our town hall,” he said.
Pinard and fellow cyclist David Hassan, also of Flower Mound, are joining together with others to take a pro-active approach to the situation. They have been making a safety push for local riders, and as part of that push, officers of the club have been contacting area council members and law enforcement officials to discuss ways to reduce encounters between motorists and cyclists. They’ve developed safety handouts for fellow and new riders which are going in shopping bags at area bicycle shops, and they are speaking at their own cycling functions, volunteering to conduct bicycle rodeos and role modeling positive behaviors on the road.
“We are going to take the first step to correct the problem,” Pinard said, noting that some cyclists just don’t know any better, and that is the reason for making education the first step they are taking in their attempt to peacefully share the local roads with motorists. Hassan noted that some riders aren’t perfect. “We understand that we are part of the problem, and we want to arrive at a solution that benefits everyone,” he said.
Safety is a big concern to those on both sides of the issue, and Hassan relates that his 71-year-old mother was killed in 2004 while riding her bicycle in Granbury, Texas. He said a motorist going 70 miles an hour struck her as she rode on a six foot shoulder. “Nothing happened to him at all,” Hassan said. “If a car rear ends another car, you get a ticket; but when a car hits a cyclist, nothing happens to the driver.”
Pinard said what they want is to be able to have access to safe roads on which to ride their bikes.
“Our roads are very nice roads to ride on, but so many people are out there that some motorists get frustrated because they might have to wait to pass. Some cyclists do have a selfish mentality, and five or six riders might be taking up a lane and not even aware of an approaching motorist.”
Some drivers, Pinard said, react to a situation like that by “buzzing riders,” coming dangerously close to them. “Motorists might not understand that’s a human being in front of them and we are really very vulnerable.”
And, all in all, Hassan and Pinard agree that the new regulation in Bartonville gives them more impetus to educate bike riders on laws and safety. “It’s showing us that they are serious. It gives us a card to play with the people that think the rules don’t apply to them. We get to show them that there are results and consequences,” said Pinard, who enjoys bike riding with his 20-year-old son.
For more information on bicycle safety and Texas law, visit the Texas Bicycle Coalition at www.biketexas.org.