Bicyclist Chris Skanes, 40, loves his wheels but not the dangers that come with sharing the road with larger vehicles.
He was happy to learn Wednesday that Tyler city leaders not only recognize the risk, but want to improve safety for both two- and four-wheeled travelers.
The Tyler City Council agreed to support the creation and extension of signed bicycle routes on McDonald Road, Donnybrook Avenue and Old Omen Road, with potentially more pathways to come.
“As a bicyclist and a commuter, I can say, ‘Yes — these are sorely needed,'” said Skanes, who manages Jason's Deli in Tyler. “Knock on wood, I've been lucky, but I've seen a lot of near misses.”
Skanes said bicycling is a good way to boost physical fitness and enjoy the natural beauty of the area.
Traffic engineer Peter Eng said the new route designations also are great for improving connectivity in the city.
Short segments of bike lanes already exist in some areas — the measure approved Wednesday adds or extends sections to meet up with others.
“This properly connects UT Tyler to the TJC area,” Eng said. “This is something we definitely need because we have students attending both colleges.”
Additional routes will help lead bicyclists north through portions of the medical district to Devine Street and south past Loop 323 to meet up with the Rose Rudman Trail system.
Specifically, the bike route on McDonald Road is to extend from the intersection with Baxter Avenue to Donnybrook Avenue.
And on Old Omen Road, the new route is to stretch from McDonald Road to the Old Bascom Road.
Eng said there are differences between signed bike routes and bike lanes, designated exclusively for bicycles.
“In this case, we are asking for bike routes,” Eng said. “They will share the road with vehicular traffic.”
Examples of signed bicycle routes can be found along Amherst Street, Baxter Avenue, Copeland Road, DeCharles Street, Devine Street, Donnybrook Avenue, Golden Road, Grand Street, Lake Street, Paluxy Drive, Rieck Road, Sunnybrook Drive and 29th Street.
“I've seen drivers in those lanes,” she said.
Eng said new “Share the Road” signs are going up soon to help alert drivers to the presence of cyclers.
City engineers plan to study other roads to identify new route opportunities.
The Traffic Safety Board previously reviewed the changes and agreed to recommend extending the routes.
Tyler Bicycle Club President Mike Butler said improved connectivity will provide a multitude of benefits.
He said established routes are helpful in educating motorists about the importance of sharing the road.
“In studies we've seen … if you put the routes out there, people will use them,” he said. “Eventually, once Earl Campbell Parkway is complete, people will be able to get to Sam's. There will be a standard east-west corridor.”
Skanes said if more people would pedal, instead of drive, to their destination, the streets would be less congested.
They also could save money on gasoline and lead more healthful lives.
“I'd like to see a lot of people using these lanes,” Skanes said. “I think it would do a lot of good.”
State Bicycle Laws
Bicycles should only be operated on streets, roadways, bike paths, routes and areas specifically designated for bicycle riding.
Bicycles and other non-motorized devices shall not be ridden into bicycle racks. Always dismount upon arrival to the rack and place your bike in an available space.
All rules and procedures herein are applicable to all non-motorized devices.
In a shared-use area, the bicyclists shall pass cautiously, after giving audible notice of passing to the pedestrian or bicyclists they are passing.
A bicycle is a vehicle and a person operating a bicycle has the rights and duties applicable to a driver operating a vehicle. All laws and signs that regulate the movement of vehicles upon the roadway also apply to bicycles. Therefore, a bicyclist should obey all traffic laws, signs, and signals. This includes stopping at all stop signs and all stop (red) lights.
A person operating a bicycle on a roadway who is moving slower than the other traffic on the roadway shall ride as near as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway.
However there are exceptions to this law. Under the following conditions the law allows bicyclists to take the full lane of travel when:
The person is passing another vehicle moving in the same direction.
The person is preparing to turn left at an intersection or onto a private road or driveway.
When there are unsafe conditions on the roadway, including fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, pedestrians, animals, or surface hazards that prevents the person from safely riding next to the curb or edge of the roadway.
The lane is of substandard width (less than 14 feet in width and not having a designated bicycle lane adjacent to that lane) making if unsafe for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to safely travel side by side.
A person operating a bicycle on a one-way roadway with two or more marked traffic lanes may ride as near as practicable to the left curb or edge of the roadway.
Persons operating bicycles on a roadway may ride two abreast. Persons riding two abreast on a laned roadway shall ride in a single lane. Persons riding two abreast may not impede the normal and reasonable flow of traffic on the roadway. Persons may not ride more than two abreast unless they are riding on a part of a roadway set aside for the exclusive operation of bicycles.
A person operating a bicycle shall ride only on or astride a permanent and regular seat attached to the bicycle.
A person may not use a bicycle to carry more persons than the bicycle is designed or equipped to carry.
A person operating a bicycle, coaster, sled or toy vehicle or using roller skates may not attach either the person or the bicycle, coaster, sled toy vehicle, or roller skates to a streetcar or vehicle on a roadway.
A person operating a bicycle may not carry any object that prevents the operator from keeping a least one hand on the handlebars.
Bicyclists must use hand signals to signal their intent to stop, turn left, or turn right. The bicyclist must use the following signals.
Stop – Extend the left hand and arm downward
Left Turn – Extend the left hand and arm horizontally
Right Turn – Extend the left hand and arm upward, or extend the right hand and arm horizontally.
Every bike must be equipped with a brake capable of making a braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.
A person may not operate a bicycle at nighttime unless the bicycle is equipped with the following.
Headlamp – a lamp on the front of the bicycle that emits a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet in front of the bicycle.
Red Reflector/Red Lamp – A bicycle must be equipped with either a red reflector which is visible from a distance of 300 feet from the rear of the bicycle, or a red lamp visible from a distance of 500 feet from the rear of the bicycle.
Source: Compiled by Texas A&M Transportation Services from the Texas Transportation Code section 7C, chapter 545, subsection A.