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Tuesday, 17 January 2012 01:15

To all bicyclists in Tennessee - now is the time to put up or shut up.  We all talk about wanting and deserving respect on the road, but what are you actively doing to ensure this happens?

Positive change does not magically happen out of thin air.  Desired change requires action from supporters and hard work on behalf of passionate people.  With this in mind, I challenge you to step up and support the Share the Road campaign being championed by the Jeff Roth Cycling Foundation (JRCF).

As of January 16 there are 736 people who have committed to purchase a Share the Road specialty license plate.   I am one of those 736 - are you?

If you ride a bicycle in Tennessee, then you have undoubtedly heard of the 3’ law to help protect bicyclists.  The law requires motor vehicle drivers to provide a minimum of 3' clearance when passing a bicyclist.  Sadly, this law came about after the death of East Tennessee bicyclist Jeff Roth, and is the result of work on behalf of the JRCF.  In the summer of 2006 Jeff lost his life while riding his bicycle, and by May 2007 the Jeff Roth and Brian Brown Protection Act of 2007 was signed into law by then Governor Phil Bredesen.  Brown was also killed by a motor vehicle while riding his bicycle.

This is a cause I am passionate about not just because I am a bicyclist, but more importantly because I have been hit by a motor vehicle while bicycling.  In October of 2002 I was hit in Nashville and suffered severe leg injuries.  I immediately endured multiple surgeries along with racking up over $70,000 in medical bills.  It took over four months to walk again without support, but only after significant rest, recovery and rehab.  I am fortunate I was not killed by the driver, whom was cited as being at fault.  My body was broken, my helmet and bike destroyed, but I miraculously survived the collision.  This accident was a pivotal moment in my life which led to many positive pathways, but it is not something I want anyone else to have to endure unnecessarily.

We must reach 1,000 commitments by July of 2012 in order for the plate to be granted by the state.  If we do not reach that amount then the opportunity will pass, and who knows if the state will allow this chance again.  If we fail this time it will mean we will have fallen short for a second attempt.  I was involved in helping the Jolly Cyclist back in the early 2000s to achieve the same goal, but we only reached a little over half way.  I find it hard to accept that bicyclists across Tennessee would allow this to happen a second time, after all we are the Volunteer State.  Let us no longer envy neighboring states who have already adopted these plates, but instead let’s have one for ourselves to proudly display.

In all likelihood, you have either been involved in an incident yourself or have a friend who has been.  This is not an issue to sit on the sidelines.  We are talking about a $35 commitment.  If you can afford a bicycle, then you can afford to support the JRCF and all bicyclists in Tennessee.  Do not wait until your tags expire.  Take action today.

Imagine the impact this simple license plate message can have over a period of time.  In 2013 there could be 1,000 vehicles with the Share the Road license plate acting as a full-time billboard.  Then beyond 2014 just imagine how many thousands more could be sporting the message.  It is the most simple, logical, and cost effective way to express your values to everyone driving on the road.  Each and every one of these plates will make an impression and plant the seed of safety to everyone who reads them.  It is a simple and necessary step to help us earn respect on the road.

Obviously, there are more than 1,000 bicyclists in Tennessee who can make this commitment.  However, I also encourage family members and friends of bicyclists to step up and show your support by committing to a Share the Road plate.  Bicyclists of all types and abilities, mothers, fathers, siblings and family members of bicyclists, everyone!  We need all hands on deck.

You can either register online here or print out a form here to mail in with your check.  To learn more about the Jeff Roth Cycling Foundation please visit here, and while there be sure to read their FAQ section here as well.

Please do this today.  Thank you.