A new report from the League of American Bicyclists is troubling for anyone who supports cycling in Alabama. The report states that Alabama is ranked dead last for bike friendliness. And it should come as no surprise, as many car drivers in this state feels like they own the road and some have even attempted to run cyclists and even pedestrians off the road. Alabama has never been higher than 47th place since these yearly reports began to come out in 2008. And for anyone who is a cyclist in Alabama, are you shocked by these results, or are you counting down to the next driver who throws trash at you, yells or curses at you, or tries to hit and run you down, because it happens a lot in this state.
For the city of Anniston, who is trying to become a bicycling, eco-friendly city, this report has got to be troubling. Who would want to come and ride in the worst state in the country for cycling friendliness? Outside of events like Noble Street Festival and the Cheaha Challenge, where the streets are closed off or cyclists have police escort, cyclists have to contend with some drivers who have the attitude that they own the road, and all pedestrians and cyclists should be banned, or run down. Many cyclists and pedestrians I have talked too have told me they contend with some drivers who throw trash at them, yell profanity at them, honk their horns, or the worse, try to hit them. Yes, this happens often in Alabama, and many other states as well.
Things are so bad in the southeast, the state of Georgia even tried to pass a bill that would require all bicycles to be licensed with a $15 license fee. The bill would have also required cyclists to ride in groups no larger than four, in single file, with four feet of space separating each rider. And all cities and communities would have been able to bar cyclists from whatever roads they choose. When the bill was advertised, it caused a lot of controversy, and thankfully the bill was killed. The lawmakers here in Alabama tried to pass a bill to require car drivers to give space when they pass cyclists on the road, but thanks to some legislature corruption, the bill died. And sadly, I know there is one lawmaker here in Alabama that would propose something like that Georgia bill, because they hate being behind cyclists.
So, why is Alabama ranked last for bike friendliness? Here are a few reasons why!
1. Our roads are too narrow, with limited shoulders available. So cyclists ride on the far right, and because of hills and curves at times, car drivers have to stay behind the cyclists, which annoy them.
2. Some car drivers don’t want to see any cyclists on the road, period!
3. Some car drivers will throw trash or yell at cyclists, which is annoying!
4. Some drivers feel like cyclists should be banned from all public roadways.
5. And yes, some drivers have intentionally hit other cyclists, and drive off.
Cyclists are not only having problems with car drivers in Alabama, it’s happening on roads all over the world. There is not enough funding available to create bike lanes on all roads or build bike trails along roads for the cyclists. So for you drivers who feels like you own the road and all cyclists/pedestrians should be banned, they have the same right to be on the road just like you! Yes, there are some cyclists who don’t obey the rules of the road and ride right in the middle of the road. But for the vast majority of cyclists, they ride on the far right and do not block traffic. You might have to be patient and stay behind them until there is a safe place to pass them on the road. If you don’t agree with cyclists, maybe it’s time your license was revoked.
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