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Cyclists bike for awareness

The Crimson White: Cyclists bike for awareness

By Katy Turnbull on February 9th, 2010 in Featured Story, Metro/State, News

Wearing torn sheets, ripped T-shirts and bandages covered in fake blood, students, faculty and other local cyclists participating in the Bandaged Bike Ride, will meet at the steps of Gorgas Library at 3 p.m. Friday and ride their bicycles as a group to the Tuscaloosa City Hall.

The ride, hosted by the group, I Bike Tuscaloosa, will aim to create public awareness of bicycle safety issues on Tuscaloosa streets and shed light on the severe injuries that can occur when cyclists and motorists share a tense relationship on the road, according to Allison Millham, a book arts graduate student at UA and one of the organizers of the ride.

Millham expects about 30 to 40 people to participate in the ride, including volunteers who will ride in memory of the three cyclists who were killed in traffic accidents in Tuscaloosa over the last five years.

“Almost everyone that I know has been hit or knows somebody that has been hit, Millham said. “No one on a bike wants to get hit and no driver wants to hit someone on a bike. If the city accommodates for bikes on the streets with bike lanes, with signage, and with education, I think that both bikes and cars will feel more comfortable and safer on the roads.”

Once cyclists in the Bandaged Bike Ride reach city hall, some of the ride’s organizers will delivers speeches, hold discussions and pass out information packets about bicycle related information and issues, according to Millham.

“We see that the city and the University are thinking a lot more seriously about making improvements, but I just think that it needs to be upped a lot on the priority list and that there should be changes made sooner than later,” Millham said. “I think that it’s important that the city and the University and the community know that this is a positive event and we are trying to bring about positive change. We are not trying to criticize anyone, just help things move in the right direction.”

Heather Hill, an economic development planner for the city of Tuscaloosa, said that the Tuscaloosa City Council recently approved plans to submit an application to have Tuscaloosa designated as a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, which will review several different aspects of the city’s bicycle safety laws and practices.

Hill said that city officials have been working with Tuscaloosa’s Park and Recreation Authority, the Druid City Bicycle Club, civil engineers and local bicycle advocates like Millham to help prepare Tuscaloosa for the application.

“It is an intensive audit that covers five different areas of a city’s bicycle friendliness, not just bicycle routes, so it should give a full picture of how well the community is suited for bikers,” Hill said. “It will help us learn what we can do to improve. It will also show us our strengths, what we are doing well, and what we could just a little bit better.”

Adam Weinstein created a Facebook page for the group I Bike Tuscaloosa, where students and other Tuscaloosa cyclists can not only learn more about Friday’s event, but also share safe bike routes around campus and town.

Weinstein stated that the group’s main objective is to look for ways to make riding a bike in Tuscaloosa safer, and that while he is glad that the city council may be making small movements, he wishes that city officials, like police officers, would be more helpful.

“When my friend was hit by a car on her bike, the officer said, ‘accidents happen’,” Weinstein said.