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Drivers Using Decatur Bike Lanes Could Be Fined

The city commission will ask judges to set fines at $150.

The Decatur City Commission voted Monday night to make it illegal for automobiles to travel in marked bike lanes.

The city commission will recommend municipal judges set fines at $150--the same as for improper lane usage. Since it's a city ordinance and not a sate law, violations would not result in the assessment of points.

A memo from Asstistant City Manager David Junger explained how the ordinance came about:

After installation of the new marked bike lanes on West Ponce de Leon Avenue in the spring of 2012, the Decatur Police Depmiment began receiving complaints that motor vehicles were using the bicycle lanes to pass other vehicles resulting in an unsafe condition, particularly with westbound vehicles use the bicycle lanes and parking stalls to pass

Based upon our review of existing state and municipal codes, the road is defined as the area from curb to curb regardless of the markings and vehicles passing on the right within the curb to curb area is not a moving vehicle violation. Also, since bicycles have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles in terns of using a road, a marked bicycle lane is considered part of the curb to curb roadway and can be used by cars to pass on the right.

Mayor Jim Baskett and commission members Kecia Cunningham and Patti Garrett voted in favor of the amendment. Fred Boykin was absent because of a death in the family.

Mike Gerke of the Bike Decatur advocacy group complimented the commission on bringing up the amendment.

Previous Patch stories about bicycles.

Wheels and Heels: Crash course in bike safety.

Decatur paints sharrows on the street.

Decatur named "bike-friendly community."

Bike lanes added to West Ponce.

Bill Woolf February 05, 2013 at 09:32 PM
I agree with the new ordinance, but I think it was a necessary response to a self-inflicted wound. When West Ponce was re-laned, the long-established principles of a "road diet" were ignored at the intersections with Adair, Drexel, Upland, Pinetree, Nelson Ferry and Fairview. The principles to which I refer call for dedicated left-turn lanes at such intersections, and having those would make it unnecessary for cars to use the bike lane to pass persons turning left. With more road narrowing planned for the future, I hope something can be learned from the mistakes of the past.

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