Look what's happening! As seen in the Tuscaloosa News
Staff photo | Michelle Lepianka Carter
"More than 20 people ride on University Boulevard on Friday as they participate in a “Bandaged Bike Ride” organized by University of Alabama graduate student Allison Milham. The ride, meant to raise awareness about the lack of bike lanes in the Tuscaloosa area, originated at the steps of the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library and finished in front of City Hall in downtown Tuscaloosa."
Bicyclists put message in bandages
By Wayne Grayson Staff Writer
Published: Saturday, February 20, 2010 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 19, 2010 at 10:53 p.m.
"TUSCALOOSA | Arms and legs wrapped in bandages made from torn T-shirts and bed sheets, they rode.
More than 20 bandaged bike riders pedaled their way on University Boulevard on Friday afternoon to the steps of City Hall in an effort to raise awareness about accidents involving cars and bicycles in the area.
University of Alabama student Allison Milham organized the event and said she began to formulate the idea after she was hit by a car a few months ago.
Milham, 26, is a first-year graduate student in UA’s book arts program. She previously attended San Francisco State University and then lived in Portland, Ore., for two years, and said both San Francisco and Portland offer a much safer atmosphere for bike riders.
“It’s like night and day,” she said. “You can get anywhere in those towns safely on a bike. The drivers there know that bikes are legal vehicles and can be on the road.”
Making drivers in Tuscaloosa more aware of bike riders and their right to be on the road, was the main goal of the ride, she said.
Camille Perett, 20, is a sophomore at the university who was hit by a car while riding her bike along Campus Drive near Publix.
“I think it’s important that bikers can feel safe,” Perett said. “So maybe today will just help drivers keep in mind that ‘Hey, maybe I should start looking out for bike riders.’ ”
However, Milham said the city government has shown a lot of initiative in making things better for bike riders. Mayor Walt Maddox and the City Council recently passed a resolution to make Tuscaloosa a bike-friendly community.
And City Council members Bobby Howard and Lee Garrison met the riders upon their arrival at City Hall.
Howard assured the riders that the city considers their concerns important and encouraged them to continue riding for the well-being of the city.
“I do want you to know that you aren’t speaking on deaf ears today,” he said. “We do realize the important role cycling plays in this community.”
Howard said the community would be easier to navigate if more people rode bikes, and said the city is doing all it can to allow for safer riding.
“Cycling makes it easier for people to traverse their community without trying to get out of their car to find a parking spot, and it also keeps them from becoming couch potatoes,” he said.
Milham said she realizes that money can be an issue in making streets safer for bike riders, but said there are plenty of things the city can do that don’t cost a lot of money but still make a difference.
She suggested starting a bike advisory committee to assist the city in making decisions such as changes in city ordinances to make road laws more fair for riders.
As an example, Milham said that in her accident, she was considered at fault since she was in a crosswalk, which is considered an extension of the sidewalk, where riders aren’t allowed.
However, at the spot Milham was riding, she said, the bike lane did not continue on the other side of the street, making the sidewalk her safest option.
“(The law) is very black and white right now, and maybe breaking it down into rules (for certain situations) would help make things more fair to riders,” she said.
Milham said she hopes Friday’s ride serves as a bit of positive reinforcement.
“We know they’re working on this, but it does need to be a higher priority,” she said."