By Joe Rector

Every so often, a topic jumps out at me and demands my attention. Usually, the overall tone is a negative one, and this one will be no better. Yes, I’ll offend some people, and for that I am sorry, but that won’t change my mind.

I half listened to the news the other day and heard something about the speed limit on some city streets dropping from 30 to 25 mph. If you are like me and own a straight-shift vehicle, going that slow means driving for long distances in second or third gear, not something that’s too good on a car. The reason for this change in speed is so that bicycle riders can be accommodated.

I have nothing against bike riders. As boys, Jim and I rode our bikes all over the community and even traveled to Hardin Valley to play with a boy. In those days, traffic was minimal. During a long trip to some place like the valley, we might encounter half a dozen vehicles and a few dead animals that had crossed the road at the wrong time. What concerned us most was riding by a yard with a dog. Most would bark and then ignore us. However, some were much more aggressive and came after us. Boys would be bitten or might wreck as their legs failed to push the bikes faster than the dog or in a straight line.

These days, the roads in Ball Camp are jammed with traffic. During rush hour, a school bus or a train can cause cars to back up for miles. If those things were frustrating to people trying to arrive at work or return home in the evenings imagine what the sight of some adult man pedaling on the road does to anger levels.

The cyclists always have the proper gear: helmets, bikes with seats that are designed to inflict torturous pain to male riders, and that flashing little light on the back fender that screams at drivers, “I might be slow, but I’m ahead of you!” Car drivers seethe as they sit in long lines of traffic until they can pass the inconsiderate rider. Vehicles take dangerous chances by passing cyclists on curves or up hills. In our days, we were taught to pull over so that cars could pass. Riders today refuse to do so. Perhaps they are in rhythms and don’t want to break them. Some refuse to pull over to let traffic pass because they declare they have every bit as much right to the roads as cars. I beg to differ with that kind of thinking.

A bike rider might have the same rights car drivers do when they pay to register their vehicle. At the same time, they can pay for a tag that can then be placed on the back bumper. Last, they must take a test on riding on the road. After all these things are finished and fees have been paid, those cyclists have as much right to the road as any car. Whenever possible, those unmotorized vehicles should hang either to designated bike lanes or on the shoulders of roads when traffic is heavy.

Only then will cyclists have the same rights to the roads. Until then, cyclists should find places to ride that won’t add to the congestion on roads. Perhaps they could ride before people begin their journeys to and from work. Sure, it might be a bit dark, but think of how much safer riding a bike would be.