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Sen. Miller alters cycling bill to please bikers
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When Lloyd Unnold got word that his state senator had introduced a bill to ban side-by-side bicycle riding on roads, he mostly wondered why.

Unnold, a Gainesville resident and longtime member of the Chicken City Cyclists, said he was puzzled that Sen. Butch Miller had "time to waste on cycling."

"Of all the things going on in Georgia, he's worried about people riding bikes?" Unnold said. "This is a major thing for a senator to be working on?"

Miller introduced the bill, he said, because his constituents asked him to. They came to him with concerns over bicycle traffic on the curvy and increasingly mountainous roads in the northern part of Hall County, he said.

He said the bill was in "no way, shape or form anti-bicycle" legislation.

Later in the week, Miller, the owner of a local car dealership, said he reached a compromise with those who prefer travel on two wheels.

The senator offered a substitute to the original bill that keeps the current rules for side-by-side cycling in place, but requires cyclists to move into a single-file line if a vehicle approaches on a two-laned road.

Shortly after Miller filed the original bill, Bike Georgia, an Athens-based cycling advocacy group, sounded alarms. The group sent out a flier arguing all the benefits of two-abreast cycling, stating that side-by-side cyclists were more visible to motorists and that parents on a bicycle provide a buffer between their children and road traffic.

And for a car trying to pass a group of cyclists, the group argued it would be much easier to pass 20 riders in pairs of 10 than in a single-file line.

A number of cycling advocates showed up for a committee hearing on Miller's original bill Thursday, including Bike Georgia. They emerged with tentative hope that they had prevailed.

"We do feel good that the bill that will emerge is going to be mindful of the safety and concerns of all road users," said Brent Buice, executive director of Bike Georgia. "Motorists and cyclists should, we hope, be pleased with how it all comes out."

For Buice, the transportation problem on Georgia's mountainous roads isn't that cyclists are a dangerous nuisance to motorists.

"What (the impetus for Miller's bill) draws attention to is that our roads were designed in some cases with only one user in mind," Buice said.

He hoped lawmakers would go one step further and fund what he called "complete streets," public roads that are for moving people, not just machines.

But in the near term, Miller said he's just working on cutting a deal between the two interests with safety and "common courtesy" in mind. And he said the bill is far from being final.

"I want to find something that's good for bicyclists and something that's good for the roads and something that's good for safety, "Miller said.