Reader responds to News Cycle column on proposed Forsyth bike ban

Response to John Bennett

Regarding the recent column by Savannah Bicycle Campaign's John Bennett:

Mr. Bennett is a lobbyist for the interests of bike riders. As we have learned, lobbyist spin can differ widely from fact.

Bike riders do not have the right to use sidewalks around Forsyth Park. This is against state law.

They also violate state law when they ride on sidewalks at Gaston and Park streets to reach the central path through the park.

If the city fails to enforce state law, it will be liable for damages should a pedestrian be seriously injured by a bike rider on a sidewalk.

Mr. Bennett questions whether accidents have really occurred. Residents of the West Forsyth Neighborhood can document numerous incidents of people and their pets being hit by bikes.

Does Mr. Bennett want the city to do nothing until someone is badly hurt?

Failure to enforce the law also encourages people to believe they may select which laws they will obey. This leads to problems such inappropriate use of handicapped parking spaces, littering, rolling stop signs, etc.

Public safety comes before anyone’s convenience. Government’s first responsibility is to protect the safety of its citizens. As the walks through and around Forsyth Park become increasingly congested (with tourists, students, residents and pets) bike riding on sidewalks creates safety hazards.

Do we want tourists telling their friends that they felt unsafe walking the sidewalks of our park (and squares)? I have personally seen many visitors badly shaken by speeding bike riders as they attempt to take photos of the Forsyth fountain.

Sadly, Mr. Bennett seems not to understand that cooperation with residents is necessary to find policies which serve the interests of walkers and riders alike. I personally support the creation of additional north-south bike lanes and I believe that banning bike riding from Forsyth Park would force the city to do this expeditiously.

Without such pressure, it took the city two years to create the south bound bike lane on Price Street.

Ken Zapp