POSTED: Monday, March 25, 2013 - 5:54pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 10:33am
It has been an ongoing controversy, but it all comes to an end on Tuesday.
Should cyclists be able to ride their bikes on the Loop 49 tollroad?
It’s an issue that has, for some reason, become controversial.
Local cyclists like riding on the tollway for a number of reasons.
“The safest place in Tyler to cycle is on loop 49 because it has wide shoulders, long visibility,” says attorney Wes Volberding. “Drivers can see for long distances. Cyclists can also see a vehicle from long distances away.”
So that’s the cyclists point of view about the loop. But that hasn’t convinced one member of the board of the North East Texas Regional Mobility Authority.
“The newer section of the road is not as wide as the established, the shoulders are not,” says NETRMA board mdmber Barham Fulmer. “And we’re anticipating heavy truck traffic. So I think it’s more of a safety issue than a health and fitness issue to me.”
“No, there’s still plenty of room,” volberding replied. “And the key is visibility. As long as the cyclists can still see the vehicle and the vehicle can see the cyclists, because the cyclists wear bright colors and make themselves visible.”
The board will meet Tuesday to decide the issue and on Thursday, they officially take control of the toll road from TxDot.
“We have one set of bridges across Prairie Creek that are 3 stories high,” Fulmer says. “With narrow shoulders a bicyclist being on that, and it’s a long stretch of bridge, there’s nowhere to go when you get on it. Having two 18-wheelers meet on that at 70 miles an hour, it’s just kind of a scary thing.”
“I suppose there’s always a rare chance that something might happen,” says Voilberding, “but it’s extremely unlikely.”
But the cycling community feels it’s a win-win for everyone.
“Cyclists will be happy to pay whatever fee is necessary for use of the road. We share it just like any other vehicle.”
“I’m not concerned about the toll,” Fulmer says, “I’m concerned of the safety.”