Santa Fe cyclists want road rules enforced, sonar device could be used

New Mexico

A few years ago, Santa Fe city council passed an ordinance that requires drivers to give cyclists five feet of space before passing them. KRQE News 13 is told that rule doesn’t get followed, but Santa Fe’s police might have found a solution to enforce it.

“So what we’re looking at here is what we call a bike sonar device,” said Santa Fe Police Captain Marvin Pulk.

It’s a device that would use sonar to measure the distance between a bicyclist and the car next to them. The device would be put on an officer’s bicycle and would alert other officers in the area if a car was too close.

“And to pull over those motorists and educate them and make them aware that they’re too close and there is a city ordinance that prohibits that type of closeness between the vehicle and the bicyclists,” said Captain Pulk.

For cyclists like Rachel Wexlar, more driver awareness could mean the difference between life or death.

“If you’re a cyclist and you’re sharing the road with cars and even on the sidewalk, which is not something I recommend, you always have close calls,” said Wexlar.

“Bicyclists have the right to be in the lane so it’s not a share the road because you’re being courteous to the bike, but it’s actually the bicyclists right per the uniform traffic code to be in the lane,” said Bike Trails Advisory Committee staff liaison Leroy Pacheco.

But drivers said cyclists also have to play their part and share the road appropriately.

“Instead of doing single file in a bike lane, they team up and they do four or five so it makes it feel a lot harder to give them the safety zone that they need,” said driver Katherine Maxwell.

“Educating both cyclists and people who drive vehicles about how they should behave because not everything can be enforced, some if it has to become, you know, the social norm,” said Wexlar.

That sonar device police could use isn’t available right now because the company said they’re fixing some bugs. When it gets resolved, police could start using it as early as next year.

The Bike Trails Advisory Committee is meeting Wednesday night and another topic of discussion is the possibility of changing the road signs for cyclists.

Currently signs say “Share the Road” but the committee want signs that say “May Use Full Lane” to help drivers and cyclists become more aware that cyclists can ride on the road, too.

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