Reporting Gigi Barnett
The words “fatal” and “bicycles” seem to go into the same sentence more and more frequently. Now city leaders are cracking down on drivers who are not paying attention by giving cyclists a bill of rights. Gigi Barnett has more.
Last summer, 67-year-old John Yates decided to run some errands on his bike; he was an avid cyclist.
“So he left. He yelled over his shoulder, `I’m going to be an hour. If I’m late, I’ll call,’” said his widow, Ellen Yates.
That call never came.
Police say a double-axel box truck broadsided Yates, killing him.
It’s a scene the city wants to avoid.
Last week, councilmembers approved a cyclist bill of rights, making sure riders get equal access to the streets, better bike parking and the right to travel safely and free of fear.
“Bicyclists are not second class citizens. They’re right up there behind zoom zoom,” said City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke.
“She was slowing down so she kind of just tapped me and I rolled on my back. Luckily I was wearing a big bag,” said Tommy Nash.
Nash runs Baltimore Bike Works on Falls Road. The shop put the bill of rights on its website for cyclists. He says the 12-point list of rights is a step that could put Baltimore on par with other cycle-friendly cities like Portland and Seattle.
“It’s just so good for the city–it encourages cyclists [and] reduces congestion in traffic,” Nash said. “And you have a healthier city.”
The city says the bill of rights also provides special training for police officers who are called to accident scenes involving bicycles and cars.
Councilmembers say they approve the bill of rights because a bike-friendly city attracts and keeps more people who want to live and work in Baltimore.