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Politician's statement reflects need for more bike awareness

While some Long Beach, California, residents may still remember a time when community members were able to ride their bicycles on open streets, many would argue that those days are long gone. Bicyclists are now often faced with the issue of finding a suitably safe road to ride on, as factors like poor road maintenance and commuter traffic can make streets hazardous. And despite the fact that some organizations and legislators are renewing efforts to improve safety conditions for pedestrians in bicycle riders, others are reluctant to do more. A recent incident involving one legislator’s response to a bicycle accident testimonial illustrates the difficulties the bicycle community can face over safety concerns.

As one New York official noted recently, funding to address road maintenance issues is typically available to be used at the city’s discretion. That means that streets and roads can be maintained and improved to promote accessibility and safety for all users, including motorists and bicyclists alike. And given that cities across the country are encouraging residents to get outside and exercise, it would make sense for civic leaders to invest resources into promoting activities like bicycle riding. Unfortunately, however, cities must first ensure that roadways are safe for bicycles.

When a high school student in New York contacted one local government representative about the bicycle accident his mother was involved in, the legislator responded by claiming that it was not appropriate to ride a bicycle in that county. The official added that pedestrians and bicycle riders in the region risk getting hit by cars and that the safer alternative is to exercise indoors.

Proponents of outdoor recreation and alternative forms of transportation may argue that such comments and thinking are counterproductive to promoting road safety for all citizens.

Source: CBS New York, “L.I. Legislature’s Stance On Bike Safety Sets Off Social Media Backlash,” Feb. 17, 2014

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