Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Oconee County Land Use Committee Delays Decision on Share the Road Signage Request

Fear of Athens Bike Invasion

The Oconee County Cycling Organization was sent home tonight without its Share the Road signs when the Land Use and Transportation Planning Committee decided to postpone further discussion of the signage until it has information on the legal implications of telling bicyclists and motorists to ride together.

The cycling organization asked the Committee back in July to recommend that the county install Share the Road signs on Colham Ferry road from Watkinsville to Watson Spring Mill road, on Simonton Bridge road from Watkinsville to the county line, on New High Shoals road from U.S. 441 to SR 186, and on Barnett Shoals road from Watkinsville to the county line.

The Committee delayed discussion of the request until tonight, in part so it could ask Emil Beshara, director of the Public Works Department, his opinion of the request.

Beshara left little doubt that he is not in favor of the signs, saying that he was afraid that they would indicate an endorsement by the county of biking on the roads, possibly leading to legal liability should there be an accident.

“I have reservations about putting signs on heavily traveled roads, on narrow roads, on roads with a speed limit above 35 miles per hour,” Beshara said. “I personally have reservations about the possible perception of endorsement of cycling along these routes.”

Beshara stressed that bicyclists and motorists have the same right to the roadway.

“Much to many people’s dismay, bicyclists have the legal right to use our roadways, just as much of a right as a car,” he said.

None of the eight committee members present expressed much support for the request, and several, most prominent among them Frank Watson, were openly hostile.

“I have friends who complain to me all the time about bicyclists and holding up traffic,” he said. He added that he also felt “BikeAthens has a little bit to do” with the request and he didn’t like that.

Watson made the motion to delay any action until the Committee had more information on the legal implications of putting up the signage. The motion passed 7 to 1. (The committee has 14 members, but only eight members showed up for the meeting.)

Richard McSpadden, a member of the Committee and president of the OCCO, was not present, and Tony Glenn made the pitch for the signs in his absence.

Glenn said OCCO selected the four roads because its members indicated they use them extensively, often to reach other roadways in the county with less traffic.

The Committee will not take up the signage request again until at least November. Watson will not be on the Committee then, since his term ended tonight and he did not seek reappointment.

Any action taken by the Committee would be advisory to the Board of Commissioners, which would make the final decision.

In October, the Committee plans to devote its meeting to a public pitch for its recommendation that the county separate the county judicial and administrative facilities and build a new judicial facility near the county jail.

The exact date for that presentation has not yet been set.


Tony said...

Xardox, I'm preempting your same dull comment about cyclists not paying taxes. See comments from Brian and myself under Lee's previous post. I personally pay taxes on three vehicles. How about you? Perhaps I pay more taxes than you do.

Oconee cyclists (and most cyclists in general) are not inner city residents or college students that lack vehicles. We drive and pay our share of taxes.

And if liability were a real problem, any form of road signage would be non-existent. StR signs are all over Georgia and the US. Their numbers are increasing, not decreasing. This is clear indication that liability issues are not a concern.

Xardox said...

I welcome the lurking crank who insists on immmediately going ad hominem concerning issues of substance. It is easier to deal with passive-aggressive dorkism than to actually work on sentence structures and all.
You just may pay more taxes than I do. Thank you for your patriotism and willing subsidy of the local honor of paying more. Unfortunately, you flunked the telepathy part of today's riposte. That's too bad; you probably have some great stories about Sasquatch.

Mr. Beshaara is completely correct that county-funded road signs endorsing bicycle users equal footing of the road opens a large Pandora's box of consequences. Not only is the myth that bicycles have "as much right to the road as cars" incorrect, but is dangerously misquided. Reasons abound; space does not yet permit.

So, Mr. Happy Tax Payer, what do you propose is a reasonable users' fee for the bicycle equality on these highways built at great expense by those evil auto riders?

Since you seem to know me, you probably know I also ride a bycycle frequently. You, I do not know. Good.

Tony said...

Usual tactic of diverting the conversation.

To keep you on target, the issue isn't whether I'm happy to pay taxes but that I, and all Oconee County cyclists, do pay taxes. You have been arguing that we don't. Hopefully you will put that incorrect and misguided assumption to rest.

If by "user fee" you mean registration of bicycles, perhaps there is some merit to that. The idea is not a new one. I'm open to the discussion.

I don't know you. That's the point I made in another comment. You hide behind anonymity.

And lastly, in Georgia, as in most states, a bicycle is legally recognized as a vehicle. Cyclists have all the rights, and responsibilities, as any other vehicle operator as outlined in the Georgia code.

Brian said...


Xardox, seeing as how thousands of communities utilize signs that encourage cyclists and vehicles to share the road safely, I fail to see Pandora's box opening.

Would you support charging additional user fees to all those who might choose to walk, run, push a stroller, walk their dog, drive slow moving tractors, or touch pavement with something other than their personal vehicles? Roads are indeed for all users -- before there were cars, they were shared by horses and pedestrians (and yes, in some cases, cyclists). It should be the same now. Take care.

brent said...

BikeAthens is definitely behind this. They're behind everything. They're behind you right now!!

Anonymous said...

Acutally, because Bike Athens travels so slowly, they are probably ahead of you . . . delaying your progress.