Posted: Nov 3, 2011 10:57 PM by Maddie Garrett
Updated: Nov 3, 2011 10:58 PM
After a rash of fatal bicycle accidents in Acadiana, Lafayette Consolidated Government has decided to take action. But bicycle safety isn't just up to drivers, it's up to cyclists as well.
Jason Nicklaus Smith is what you would call an avid bicyclist, and said he's even been hit by a car at least three times.
"When I say they took a right in front of me that's actually incorrect, they took a right on top of me," remembered Smith.
Just recently a biker was killed on Johnston street, that person was going the wrong way in the bike lane. In the past few years, 55% of serious bicycle accidents on Johnston Street involved a cyclist traveling the wrong way in the bike lane according to LCG's Traffic and Transportation Department.
"When i took a look at Johnston street and saw almost fifty bicycle crashes in the last three years it struck me as being way out of the ordinary," said Tony Tramel, Director of Traffic and Transportation.
Tramel said after looking at the numbers, he thought it was time LCG took a more active role in making Lafayette bike-friendly.
"And I don't clearly think that bicycle safety has ever been a focus of a lot of people in the past," said Tramel.
Tramel said, right now it's just getting bikers and drivers to know the rules of the road. State laws require all cyclists to travel the same direction as traffic and drivers to give a biker at least three feet of space when passing. Bicyclists must also have lights on both the front and rear of a bike when riding at night.
But with a new bike trail partially completed, the Atakapas-Ishak Trail, and plans for more bike lanes underway, there are set backs like paying for those improvements.
"The challenge is, there's never enough resources to make it all happen in a short period of time," explained Tramel.
Still, the bicycle safety initiative taken on by LCG is a good sign to Lafayette cyclists.
"I'd like to say it's over due, frankly I'm just happy that it's happening. Things take time, things in government move slow and it's nice to know that while they do move slow they're pushing to make things happen and I think we're already starting to see it," said Smith.\
And the newest bike lane could be in the works soon on Kaliste Saloom, as LCG plans to expand that road.