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Road Closures For Events [OPINION]

Lafayette City Police blocking Highway 90 to allow Cycle Zydeco to cross. (Staff Photo)

How do you feel about road closures for non-profit events like walks, rides, bicycle events, 5k races, etc?

This morning, as I was leaving Dr. Kevin’s office, Highway 90 was closed for a few minutes to allow the Cycle Zydeco group to cross the highway.

Cajun Zydeco is an annual cycling event, usually spanning over a few days, in which bicyclists ride through parts of Acadiana, sampling our food, music and lifestyle.  Today’s journey takes them from Blackham Coliseum in Lafayette to St. Martinville, and then on to Breaux Bridge.

The money raised from the event goes to the mission of TRAIL which, according to its website, is:

… a non-profit organization dedicated to building and maintaining parks, paths and trails for hiking, walking, running, kayaking, biking and canoeing. Recreational infrastructure development is how TRAIL promotes the motto of the 4 E’s: Experience, Educate, Exercise and Enjoy. Recreational facilities encourage people to get outside EXPERIENCE their environment, gain more EDUCATION about their environment and health, have more opportunities for EXERCISE and better ENJOY their community.

 

TRAIL is also working to build better communities that promote healthy lifestyle options, appreciation for the native environment, and a more desirable place to live, work and visit; working with governments, individuals and businesses to make these recreational facilities a reality.

Lafayette Police (Staff Photo)

I think that this mission will help Acadiana become more attractive to visitors, and, in turn, will help bring more money to our area.

Now, to get back to the topic of this post:  as I was taking photographs and video of the bicyclists this morning, I overheard a motorist saying “Oh, come on!  You are stopping traffic for bicycles?!”.  The comment was coming from a truck driver, and directed at the officer standing in front of me.

This comment started me thinking about the different times that traffic is stopped on our roads for non-profit activities.  In Acadiana, we have fundraisers almost every weekend, from the MDA Muscle Walk, the Fight for Air Walk for American Lung Association, 5k runs galore, Komen Walks, etc.  (I’m not even going to try to list how much traffic is affected by the various parades we have in Acadiana)  Funeral processions, visiting collegiate team convoys, the ‘jeep jaunt’;  I could go on and on!

Hwy 90 Westbound Traffic stopped for Cycle Zydeco (Staff Photo)

This morning, for the Cycle Zydeco, by my calculations, traffic was stopped at the intersection of Highway 90 and Southpark road for 8 minutes.

How do you feel about traffic being stopped for events like this?  I know that some people are on a schedule, and “time is money”, but is an 8 minute delay enough for you to mouth off to a police officer?

Hwy 90 Eastbound traffic stopped for Cycle Zydeco (Staff Photo)

I am honestly looking for feedback on this issue.  While speaking with Kat, one of the organizers of Cycle Zydeco, she mentioned that they sometimes do get ‘negative’ feedback from motorists.  She encourages feedback, especially feedback that contains suggestions on how the event(s) can improve so that there is more harmony with motorists.

She didn’t mention this, but I will:  bicyclists have as much right to the roadway as motor vehicles do.  They must obey all traffic laws, including signage and traffic control devices.  Motor vehicles must give at least a 3 foot berth to a bicyclist when passing.

There were hundreds of bicycles in that group this morning.  Had there not been a police escort, it would have taken that group at least 10 light cycles to cross Highway 90 which, in my opinion, puts more people at risk.  With traffic stopped, the group is through the intersection within a few minutes, and people are on their way again.

Again, I am curious to get your feedback on this issue:  does it really bother you to have to wait for events like this?  Is there a ‘better’ way it can be handled?  What is your opinion?

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