October 9, 2013

State lawmakers drop bicycle registration proposal


Associated Press

GAINESVILLE — Three Georgia lawmakers who introduced legislation requiring cyclists to buy license plates and ride in state regulated formations say they’re dropping the bill after hearing complaints from the public.  

More than 300 people attended a nearly three hour meeting Monday night and many spoke publicly in opposition of the proposed legislation.

Reps. Carl Rogers, Lee Hawkins and Emory Dunahoo — all Gainesville area Republicans — were looking to require Georgia cyclists to register with the state and limit group rides in response to complaints from drivers.  

Some drivers complained about bad behavior among cyclists, while some cyclists told stories of drivers harassing them, pulling guns or being the victim of a hit and run.

The Legislature passed a law in 2011 requiring drivers to give cyclists at least 3 feet of space as they pass. Despite that, some cyclists say they’ve been bumped by cars or nearly hit.

Georgia Department of Transportation Chief Engineer Russell McMurry said fatalities involving cyclists appear to be increasing in comparison with 2012.

Lawrenceville resident Robert Wilhite said he was the victim of a hit and run and his wife was also once hit by a passing van.

“Imagine me running up to my bride of six months and thinking that she’s dead, sprawled across the road,” he said. “She had so much road rash she was unrecognizable.” Wilhite refused to stop speaking and was interrupted by Rogers as some in the crowd chanted “Let him speak.” Wilhite was eventually escorted out of the meeting.

Some drivers said cyclists — and large groups of cyclists — can serve as impediments on wheels.

“I want to get to where I’m going,” said Calvin Stewart, one of the bill’s supporters. “If I have a funeral to go to, I want to get there on time, if I’ve got a wedding to go to, I want to be on time, I want to go to work, I want to get there on time.”

The Gainesville Times reported (http://bit.ly/17Q6ZjG) that Rogers said drivers and cyclists each need to be more courteous to each other.

Hawkins said the meeting hopefully helped drivers and cyclists better understand the others’ perspectives.

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Information from: The Times, http://www.gainesvilletimes.com