Lafayette Drivers Observe Dangerous Bicycle Rider Behavior
Lafayette, Louisiana like many communities in the state has its own share of unique traffic concerns. Aside from the usual complaints of too many cars on the road and drivers not understanding the use of turn signals and the obligatory misuse of wireless devices while driving our traffic concerns really aren't that different from Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, or even Shreveport-Bossier City.
Except in one unique way.
The online version of Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word "idiot" which I will be using to describe the individuals in question thusly as "A foolish or stupid person". I will let you decide if you feel the word correctly describes people who do this.
Over the past four weeks, as the weather has gotten warmer, I have noticed more people riding bicycles. Now, my accusations and derogatory comments are not directed at those who ride responsibly. And I am personally in favor of enhancing the infrastructure around the city to allow for more bicycle riders to use bikes as means of transportation around town safely.
If that's you, a safe and responsible rider I'm not talking about you in this narrative.
The idiots that I am calling out are those individuals who choose to ride bicycles in the center turn lane of such well-traveled roadways as Ambassador Caffery Parkway, Johnston Street, Eraste Landry Boulevard, and I am sure there are probably a few others.
To make matters worse these soon-to-be customers of Acadiana Ambulance are riding in the center turn lane in the middle of the night. Granted, the traffic is much lighter but the visibility is also not that great. And many of these potential Darwin Award Winners are wearing dark-colored clothing and pedaling bikes with no lights or reflectors.
Whether you feel the word "idiot" was warranted or not, I think you can see why I might have chosen the word to describe someone who would perform the activities I have described above.
Louisiana Bicycle Laws
Now for those of you who say the law prohibits bicycles from being ridden on the sidewalks, I will acquiesce. To do that would be breaking the law in many communities. However, according to Louisiana statutes bicycle riders must follow the rules of the road. And according to Louisiana OMV rules, cyclists must ride on the right side of the road except when making a left turn. However, the longest you may travel in a center turn lane without making a turn is 200 feet.
So, by riding in the turn lane you'd be breaking the law too. You're also running the risk of being killed or seriously injured. Many times the midnight cyclists are carrying packages in one hand and talking on the phone with the other. I do admire their balance, it would be a shame for such physical and mental coordination to be compromised by a delivery truck, wouldn't it?
So, let this be a cautionary tale not so much for bike riders who ride in the center turn lane after dark. You probably don't read that much. But for those who do drive the city streets this is more for your benefit.
This a reminder that even in the dark when the roads seem empty, there are still many great reasons to be vigilant behind the wheel. So, don't drive impaired. Don't drive while you're distracted. And don't be surprised if a bike rider carrying a twelve-pack of beer on his handlebars appears directly in front of you on one of the city's big roadways.
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