Let’s talk bikes

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Luci Snyder – City Council, Southeast District  – lsnyder@carmel.in.gov
Carol Schleif – City Council Southwest District –  cschleif@carmel.in.gov

 

If you start to read this and believe it’s a fun article on the joys of summer biking, think again. This article is only for those who want to give critical thought to bicycles and their place in this community.

We all recognize that we are a bicycle-friendly city. We are that because our citizens want paths, trails and destinations along these trails. It suits both health and lifestyle goals and is good for residents and businesses alike and makes excellent economic sense for our community.

There are two ordinances before the City Council; one proposes rules and penalties for bicyclists and motorists alike and another proposes an update to the city’s 20 Year Comprehensive Roadway Plan that addresses, among other topics, multi-use paths.

The City Council will make the final decision for both, and we are in the process of hearing the opinions of advocacy groups for cyclists and ordinary citizens who use our trails, paths and streets. It is the general consensus that our multi-use paths are just that – paths for the use of anyone, from pedestrians with dogs and cycling families with small children, to the more serious bikers. Since these disparate groups will all share the paths and streets and may have different needs, none can have everything they want.

First and foremost, our new law must march with State law to be enforceable, prosecutable and clear. We can’t have the law in Carmel be different from the law in the rest of the state, as users on the Monon cross many jurisdictions and it would be confusing, not to mention difficult, to enforce. So, both proposals are in the competent hands of the city attorney and city judge, who are reviewing them for compliance and enforceability.

We have found that State law prohibits bicyclists from riding on the sidewalks. But who hasn’t told their young children to ride only on the sidewalk and stay out of the street? So we’ll put in an age specific provision for young children.

State law says that bicyclists are legally allowed to use the roads, so we can’t tell them they must stick only to the paths provided. However, if they are using the roads, they must obey the laws for vehicular traffic and motorists must give the biker enough room because, in an encounter with a car, the biker is always the loser. Finally, the BIGGIE. State law says that motor traffic has the right of way and that users on the Monon must stop, not the cars. So, how do we inform the kind motorist who stops to wave on the mom with a stroller that he is endangering her and breaking the law?

Lot’s to consider and we appreciate your input.


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