Chattanooga Police Safe Biking Initiative

Chattanooga, TN (WDEF) Many people don’t know the laws and rights for bicyclists on the roadways.

If you haven’t heard of the three foot law or if you think you can ride your bike through a stop sign, you might be one of those.

Chattanooga Police start an initiative to create a safe and tolerant environment between motorists and bicyclists.

Cyclists are everywhere in Chattanooga.

Some do it for sport and fitness.

Others like Steve Dunn, who is homeless, use it as their only form of transportation even though it isn’t the safest.

"It’s just scary out here," says Dunn.

That’s why the Chattanooga Police Department’s Officer Rob Simmons is heading the Safe Biking Initiative to educate motorists and cyclists about road sharing laws, and enforcing them more strictly.

Officer Simmons says, "Some of the motorist don’t understand why cyclists are in their lane, and there can be aggression and conflict and collisions due to that."

Records show 40 cyclist versus motorist incidents for 2014.

Plus many more that were never reported, like in Dunn’s case.

He says, "A woman came up beside me and yelled at me to get out of the road, and I just ignored her, but she went ahead and passed me, and then she cut over in front of me not giving me any room, and I had to jump up on the sidewalk to keep from hitting her, and when I did I just went over the handlebars, then the bike landed on top of me."

But it’s not always the motorists fault.

Officer Simmons says, "Of those it was almost half and half where the fault of the cyclist and the fault of the motorist. So there is education to be had on both sides."

The initiative started with Chief Fred Fletcher who used the same methods at his previous department in Austin, Texas.

Austin has become popular for the Keep Austin Weird slogan; Chattanooga’s even caught on with Make Chattanooga Weird stickers.

Reporter Caitlyn Jones asks, "Do you think Chief Fletcher’s trying to make Chattanooga weird?" Officer Simmons answers saying, "I think Chief Fletcher’s a little weird, but he’ll definitely make Chattanooga weird too."

But if weird works; it might just keep our streets safer.

Police will start enforcing more citations in the coming months.

It’s usually a misdemeanor crime, meaning you have to pay a fee.

Categories: Government & Politics, Hamilton County, Local News

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