BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Hundreds of cyclists who share the road with motorists in Baton Rouge are outraged at what they call a "blatant disregard for human life." They are petitioning their elected leaders to do something about it.
Local cyclists, Pat Fellows and Will Jones, have a lot in common. Both are athletes, coaches, and local business entrepreneurs. Fellows, founder of Fresh Junkie Racing, and Jones, owner of 4th Dimension Fitness, have both had a few close calls with motorists.
"It was a quarter of a mile from my house and I was in the bike lane. Someone just pulled across from me and hit my front wheel," said Fellows.
"I've been run off the road. I've had bottles, cans, cups thrown at me," said Jones.
Pick almost any time of day and you'll find cyclists on River Rd. Traffic is a given. Cyclists have come to know the lay of the land.
"There's no shoulders, so if something happened and you get buzzed off, you are going off the road," said Fellows.
Louisiana law requires the operator of a motor vehicle leave at least three feet of clearance between their vehicle and a bicycle and that the driver only pass a bike traveling in the same direction in a no-passing zone when it is safe, but after 17 years on the road, the men are convinced many motorists either don't know the laws or just don't pay them any mind, especially when it comes to the posted speed limit.
"I'm traveling 20, 25 miles per hour and they go by like I'm standing still," said Jones.
Jones and Fellows have joined nearly 600 cyclists who have signed an online petition asking the City of Baton Rouge and DOTD to install more cycling awareness signs along River Rd. from LSU to the East Baton Rouge/Iberville Parish line.
"Signage does seem to at least bring a little bit of attention to it. I don't know if that's the end all be all answer, but it's a start," said Fellows.
Cyclists have tried to avoid River Rd. during peak travel hours, use lights when they ride, and take the small sections of paved levee when necessary, but they have the same rights as motorists along River Rd. and they say the sooner drivers realize that, the safer things will be for everyone involved.
"People have died out here, and more people will, because there's not very many outcomes that can happen when a two-ton automobile hits someone on a bicycle," said Jones.