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'Ride of Silence' To Honor Decatur Bike Fatality

Decatur police are still investigating the April 30 death of bike rider Paul Taylor.

The death of Paul Taylor, will be fresh on the minds of fellow bike riders Wednesday, May 16, during the annual "Ride of Silence."

Riders will gather at 6:30 p.m. at the 10th Street/Charles Allen Drive entrance to Piedmont Park and ride about 90 minutes to honor bikers who were injured or killed on the road. Rides of Silence are held across the country that day.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution talked to Atlanta area bikers and heard many of them complain about poor biking conditions throughout the metro area.

While hard and up-to-date data is difficult to find, between 2003 and 2008, 28 people died in bike related accidents in Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties, according to the Atlanta Bicycle Association. The association reported 1,476 accidents and classified 137 of those as serious.

“Some drivers see us as nuisances,” said Ken Rosskopf, a semi-retired Decatur lawyer who is an avid cyclist and specializes in bike injury cases. “But we can share the road, as long as everybody recognizes the roads are there to share.

 

Meanwhile, Decatur police say they have not completed the investigation of just west of the intersection with Willivee Drive. No charges have been filed.

The police report says Taylor's GT Series 3 bike and a 2004 Ford Ranger truck driven by Jorge Mercado-Perez, 57, of Snellville were both in the inside, eastbound lane of North Decatur Road.

The report said Mercado-Perez "stated the bicyclist appeared to be kneeling in the roadway as if he had fallen."

in neonatology and a champion of women’s health at Grady Health System for over twenty years.

He ran marathons, participated in triathlons and was well-known for supervising the annual fund-raising barbecue at Oak Grove United Methodist Church in Decatur.

Ralph Ellis May 14, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Local bike riders, do you think the cities of Decatur and Avondale Estates do enough to make biking safe? How about the DeKalb County government?
JayJay May 14, 2012 at 03:15 PM
There was another recent incident in Decatur I heard of in which a young boy was biking with his family and was hit in a clearly marked bike lane, taken to the hospital, and the driver was not charged or ticketed. Meanwhile the City of Decatur is adding more and more bike lanes and "sharrows." Is there a disconnect with local police? In Taylor's case, he was clearly a very experienced biker, and so I would suppose he had the proper reflective gear etc. The idea of his kneeling in the inside lane is odd, but even if it's true a driver going the speed limit should easily have seen him at that intersection. I'm glad the investigation isn't closed.
Deanne May 14, 2012 at 07:46 PM
We all need to do our part to improve road safety. It'd be appreciated if bicyclists would offer us drivers some tips on how to best share the road. I'll often travel a car's length behind a bike to provide a buffer, but it sometimes seems to make the cyclist nervous-- not my intention! What is helpful?
Chuck May 15, 2012 at 01:09 AM
Paul Taylor's death is terribly tragic and sad. I'm glad that the investigation continues and I hope that local media pick up and report this story during this national bike month. It's essential for cyclists and motorists that this story receives attention so both can learn from this. The idea that section of N Druid/Willavee is not fit for cycling or Paul was riding too early (something I have heard from both cyclists and non-cyclists) is infuriating. I ride very near there and on similar roads all over the Atlanta area Deanne is correct - we all need to do our parts - drivers obey the speed limits, pass with care; cyclists stop at lights and obey traffic laws, etc. The question posed is if Decatur/Avondale do enough to make riding safe - I think they are trying but have a ways to go. Adding sharrows and bike lanes that start and stop randomly are not terribly helpful. I ride from Decatur to Sandy Springs area for my morning commute - the manner in which bike lanes disappear w/o warning may be worse than not having lanes at all.
Henry May 15, 2012 at 03:30 AM
As a cyclist, I want to be treated as a part of traffic! Yes, I feel pretty nervous if someone is following me. I hear that you mean well, but it's not necessary. I'd rather you pass, when there's enough room. I'd also rather that you take the right-of-way at an intersection, and not yield to a bicyclist, as though we were an inferior sort of being (That's what it feels like). I plan my actions to act as part of traffic, and I do not feel comfortable at all if you try to wave me in front of your 240 HP -- I'd much rather be behind you.
Steve May 15, 2012 at 12:06 PM
@Henry - as a cyclist, you also have a responsibility to obey traffic laws. Yesterday I followed a cyclist who ran a red light at a dangerous intersection and ran a stop sign one block later, putting himself and other in peril.
D Ebaugh May 15, 2012 at 12:58 PM
I totally respect bicyclists, but ... every morning, I have to (dangerously) pass cyclists who choose to ride IN the road (a narrow road) instead of on a safe, two-lane bike path (along E Ponce/Church St. near 285 on-ramp). Drives me nuts... they weave between the cars, instead of riding in the much safer bike lanes!
Deanne May 15, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Henry- Thank you for sharing this! I'd much rather do what 'll help, not be a pain! :0)
Deanne May 15, 2012 at 01:38 PM
It seems like the biggest headache for drivers and bicyclists is that so many of our surface streets are two lane with a double yellow center line, and by law, drivers aren't to cross over it. It'd be really helpful if local law enforcement agencies were to issue a common sense Share the Road waiver, saying something like: “As long as a driver has a straight stretch with a clear view of no oncoming traffic that will allow for the safe passing of a cyclist, the driver may slightly cross over the lines to accommodate the maneuver.” Addressing this one thing would definitely make traffic would flow better, improve safety, and cut way down on unpleasant driver/cyclist encounters. Does anyone know if an update of GA law has been requested to legally address the yellow line issue? GA's Share the Road info doesn't cover it: http://dot.ga.gov/travelingingeorgia/bikepedestrian/Documents/motorists_cyclists_sharing.pdf
Rod DeRemer May 15, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Steve--It's curious that you would aim your comment at Henry as I don't believe he advocated for cyclists to disobey the law. Cyclists who don't obey traffic laws are placing themselves in jeopardy. Auto drivers who don't obey traffic laws also are putting the cyclists in jeopardy.
Steve May 16, 2012 at 12:44 PM
@Rod - I was not specifically directing my comment at Henry - merely making a general comment that, if cyclists want motorists to respect them and obey the law, cyclists must do the same and many do not.
Maureen Meadows May 30, 2012 at 11:53 AM
We need a safe bike path straight down East College / Avondale Road connecting the City of Avondale with the Path, connecting at the Dairy Queen.
C. Walker May 30, 2012 at 12:07 PM
Hi D, I ride this route every day and I wanted to point out that where Church Street crosses 285 - that is the Stone Mountain bike Path. The sidewalk disappears at Glendale Road and reappears around Lovejoy. So cyclists have only one choice but to be on the road there. And yes, cyclists do have the right to ride on the road. That being said, cyclists do have to obey the rules of the road. I was very happy to see that a 3-Way stop was placed there last year on the freeway overpass as that has always a very dangerous spot for cars & cyclists. However, I am very upset to see how many cyclists do not stop for the stop signs there. I watched a local bike shop's weekly group ride just plow through this like it does not exist. And I also have a huge problem with cyclists who pass cars that are stopped (waiting their turn to go) at red lights or 4 way stops. Cyclists - please stop doing this. I would bet this is one of the number 1 complaints about cyclists and cyclists are going to have to wait their turn to go at intersections.
Ralph Ellis May 30, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Clay, Maureen and others, thanks for your comments. Let me check about the status of changes at the intersection in Avondale Estates.
C. Walker May 30, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Hi Ralph, Thanks for starting this dialogue. It’s really interesting the corners that everyone seem to be in and speaking from. However, it seems like we all have the same goal here - which is to get wherever it is we are going, safely. My opinion comes from the position from someone who rides daily. I follow the rules of the road and wear highly visible clothing. And, I also drive too. I have been riding for about 39 years now. I raced for 13 years and worked as a bike messenger in Philadelphia & New York City. That being said, I say a little prayer every time I go out to ride in Atlanta as it is the most dangerous city I have ever ridden in. It seems to be a combination of bad roads and this being the ‘golden age’ of distracting handheld electronic devices that every motorist seem to be using while driving. I rode over 6000 miles on Atlanta’s streets last year and I am approaching 3000 for this year. I recently participated the 200 mile ride AV200 ride for the Emory Vaccine Center. We have a four-fold problem: the roads in Atlanta aren’t going to get any wider, there are a lot of motorists that believe bicycles should not be on the road, there are a lot of cyclists who think they can do whatever they want to do out on the road and there is really no one out there enforcing bad driving / bad riding issues. (to be continued)
C. Walker May 30, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Part 2 I’ve recently been to both Amsterdam & Montreal and I can say that Atlanta is never going to become one of those cycling-friendly cities. Our city just is not physically designed like that. Most of my cycling friends hate it when I say this but I think the largest safety/attitude change is really going to have to come from cyclists. I really don’t see ‘die hard’ motorists changing their point of view on cyclists and the roads any time soon. Cyclists are going to have to wear high visibility clothing, have proper lights/reflectors on their bikes and obey the rules of the road. That will actually solve a lot of the day-to-day issues that are going out there. My sister lives in Spain and all cyclists there have to wear a bright yellow vest or clothing for visibility yet in Atlanta the preferred cycling colors are black helmet / black jersey & black shorts. Basically, black jerseys are going to have to outlawed. And while I am hard on cyclists because I can actually communicate my safety concerns with them, I have to say Atlanta motorists are among the worst I have ever seen. I have to say it loud & clear to you – get off your phone while driving and pay attention to what you are doing! (to be continued)
C. Walker May 30, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Part 3 The best set of ‘road rules’ that I can list at the moment are: All cyclists are going to have to: *Wear a helmet *Stop at all stop signs *Stop at all red lights *Stop passing cars at red lights & stop signs. Wait your turn! *Stop passing cars on their right side. *Stop listening to iPods while riding *Wear highly visible cycling clothing. black jerseys & black helmets should be outlawed (on the road) *Stop riding two abreast on 2 lane roads. *If you have cars trapped behind you, let them pass. *Pick routes that are the safest & widest. *bike shops are going to have to stop sending out ‘gonzo’ training rides into rush hour traffic that break every rule of safety *respect the communities that you ride through. *Be polite to motorists. All motorists are going to have to: *Slow down *Stop at all stop signs. *Stop at all red lights. *Start actually using your turn signals. *Stop talking/texting on your phones. Georgia is going to have to pass a hands-free law or a no talking law. It’s ridiculously unsafe for everyone. *Stop dramatically passing cyclists moments before you are going to make a dramatic right turn right in front of them. You can wait 5 seconds. *accept the fact that bicycles are legally allowed to be on the road with you *Be polite to cyclists.
C. Walker May 30, 2012 at 01:27 PM
PS I do find it unfortunate that one of the worst patches of road in Atlanta that I go down is at the corner of E. College / N. Avondale and heading onto Clarendon right by the Avondale Police headquarters. That road terrain is like something you would see on a motocross course and I know there have been a lot of cycling injuries at this stretch. Any chance that will be smoothed out any time soon?

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