Monday, November 2, 2009

The Truth About Manor's Bicycle Ban

Because the initial report was generated by a paper only local paper, confirming the the details of the reported bicycle ban on East Brenham Road in the City of Manor (Near Austin) has been difficult for those in distant parts of Texas that have been alarmed by the rumored event.

Yesterday evening, after dark, I sent an e-mail to the City of Manor asking for details and and a series of questions. To my astonishment, I received a reply back within ten minutes of my inquiry!

So in the interest of stopping false rumors and promoting the truth, here is Judge Haisler's reply:


I'm out-of-state right now so I'll try to answer your questions to the best of my knowledge (I'll double check when I get back to the office).

Manor only restricted bicycles on a small section of roadway along East Brenham due to the dangerous condition of the road (and a recent bicycle injury). Another blogger/magazine editor inaccurately published that Manor banned bicycles and we've been flooded with e-mails all day regarding this very issue. Below are the answers to your questions, please let me know if I can be of any additional assistance.

Best,Dustin

1) What is the history of this ordinance? Passed 10/21/2009
2) What is the reason for the ban?
Only restricted on a small section of roadway along East Brenham due to dangerous road conditions
3) Is it to be a temporary ban or is it intended to be permanent? Temporary
4) When does the ordinance take effect?
Now (To my knowledge)
5)What are the penalties for violating this law? Any city ordinance has a fine up to $2,000 by Texas law
6)How is an out of town visitor to be alerted to the new law?
A sign will be placed on the affected road
7)What are the alternatives for folks who travel about operating the banned vehicles who would otherwise travel on that previously public road? Detour along Old Highway 20

Dustin Haisler
Municipal Judge

So there you have it folks! A temporary restriction due to hazardous road conditions.

A glance at
Google maps shows that this would be a lovely road to cycle on. I do not yet know what the present condition of the roadway is that would compel local officials to fear for cyclist's safety. I will update this blog if I can find out more.

Those look to be ten foot lanes in a 30 MPH zone, but the speed limit increases to 50 MPH about a mile up the road.

Hats off to the good Judge Haisler who is obviously putting in extra hours to get the truth out on the record. I am happy to assist him in that noble effort!

20 comments:

  1. Why is it safe for motorcycles but not bikes?

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  2. Hey man, that was good work. It is SO refreshing to see somebody who's interested in the true details of a thing before getting all outraged.

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  3. Perhaps we should tell the hysterical Austincyclistas that manor has merely adopted a "Completely Safe Passing Zone" to protect them, by prohibiting their being to be passed in the first place. Makes since to me. prevent further bicyclist victimaization. Works for harrassment, too.

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  4. @ dear Rantwick;
    Yes, that intera-nets stuff is just a sewer of innuendo and unsubstantiated assertions, unlike CNN:

    http://blogs.stripes.com/blogs/stripes-central/pentagon-911-%E2%80%9Cshots-fired%E2%80%9D-triggers-press-and-emotions

    Or "fake but true" Dan Rather. Us "pajama clad" basement journalists have no editors or fact checkers making sure we get the story right.

    @Steve, Good question mate! I have sent another list of follow up questions.

    @PM; The end game in the separated infrastructure movement?

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  5. Perhaps we should tell the hysterical Austincyclistas that Manor has merely adopted a "Completely Safe Passing Zone" to protect them, by prohibiting their having to be passed in the first place. Makes sense to me, and it will prevent further bicyclist victimization. Works for harassment, too.

    There, I had an adult type it for me. ;-) (Damn iPhone keypads!)

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  6. His honor's reply that it is a "small section" results in a detour for bicycles of 2-1/2 to 3 miles. There is no indication of what specifically led to the ban or what conditions would need to be satisfied to lift it or that they ever intend to do anything to correct it, much less in any specific time frame.

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  7. Daniel,

    Bike Bans are like a cancer. They spread.

    Sadly, they are usually the result of a combination of ill-mannered training rides and the cycling inferiority complex (AKA: Vulnerable Cyclist Complex).

    Our privilege to use the roads (it's not a right, but a hard won privilege) is threatened every time we try and set ourselves apart from other road traffic.

    As a well informed Austin-area cycclist, what do you think led to this?

    P.S. Any chance this was prompted by the City of Austin's passage of a "safe" passing law?

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  8. Mr. Norton;

    As I perused the City of Manor's web-page, it is clear the city is not a large organized metropolis. I would imagine that they were caught by surprise by something that was passed on October 21 and is generating such far flung interest.

    They are not likely to have a media spokesman who sends out faxes everyday and holds weekly press conferences like other sophisticated cities like Austin.

    As it is, Judge Haisler responded promptly to my late in the day e-mail while he was not even in Texas! I nearly logged off my computer without checking my e-mail because I did not expect a reply sooner than mid-morning today, which would be expected from a well oiled outfit like, say Austin. You gripe is premature and out of line.

    Your questions are natural and spring from the response given, but they could not be asked in my first inquiry because at that time the reason for the ban was a complete unknown. Below are the follow-up questions sent to the acting spokesman for the city. He returned a note to me this afternoon asking that we be patient for his return to his desk on Thursday. That seems to me to be a reasonable request.

    Here are the questions waiting for him in my e-mail--

    "I have a few follow-up questions that I am sure will relieve any anxiety the cycling community has over this matter.

    1) To your knowledge, what was the particular cause of the cyclist's injury? Whom can I ask who may have that information?

    2) Is this particular road condition also a hazard for motorcyclists?

    3) What steps are being planned or implemented to fix the problem.

    4) What is the tentative time-line for those repairs and the estimated time of completion?"

    I have no reason to think that Judge Haisler is being in any way disingenuous or spinning anything. I am content to wait. There will be plenty of time to fly off the handle when we know more about the situation.

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  9. I'm confident that ChipSeal will get to the bottom of all this and let us know the particulars. Those follow up questions look pretty much on the mark!

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  10. It was good of you to look into this and set the record straight. I hate it when misinformation in the cycling community leads to the villainization of local governments and police.

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  11. I have some insight as to the condition of this stretch of road. On Aug 30 while riding with friends, I hit a large crack in the road about a yard long, 4 inches wide and about a foot deep. No shoulder. There were lots of these cracks or crevices. I suffered many injuries -- broken hand, torn hamstring, ripped face and mouth, etc.... (I was wearing a helmet, which got cracked.) It is extremely unsafe for bikes. I don't like the precedent of banning bikes, but somebody needs to fix that road ASAP. It also has this bend that makes it unsafe for cars to pass safely.

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  12. My sympathies, Anonymous! I pray your injuries heal quickly and that they have no long-term impact on your range of motion.

    Would you say, having first-hand knowledge of the road condition, that this cracked pavement constitutes a hazard for motorcycles as well?

    Thank you for posting your experience with us.

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  13. Yes, it is a hazzard for motorcycles, too. However, the cracks are towards the side of the road and motorcycles tend to be more towards the center than where these are. But, yeah, the cracks are shockingly large and could really hurt someone on a motorcycle if they hit it.

    And FYI, I returned to riding my bike 2 weeks ago. Still sore, but very happy to be riding again.

    Thanks for looking into this issue. I love riding around that part of Manor and hope they get it fixed, but you can bet that I'll check it out in a car first.

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  14. It sounds a lot like northbound Old Denton Highway just south of Hwy 170 in Fort Worth. The solution is riding where it's safe. Part of that route, I ride on the left side of the lane, part of it I ride on the right side of the lane. I'd probably be in trouble in dark conditions without either a warning sign or experience with the road since it's a fast downhill stretch (I usually hit 30), making a fall much more serious than if it were level ground.

    Is there some reason that a warning sign would not have worked - something like "two wheeled vehicles stay towards left side of lane due to hazardous pavement?" Banning a particular type of vehicle seems a bit extreme if a warning sign would work as well. Some motorcyclists DO ride on the right side of the lane, especially those on scooters that aren't very experienced. While a cyclist riding across cracks may get injured, a motorcyclist would likely suffer more serious injuries due to higher speed.

    It's not clear that Manor has thought this through clearly. ChipSeal, get back on the job and get us the straight scoop! I'd hate to see Manor bankrupted by a paralyzed scooter rider.

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  15. I am sure you mean in your last sentence this: "I would hate if a scooter driver were to be paralyzed, can't the city council see this peril as well?" ;)

    Yes, I agree that motorcycles seem to be just as much at risk, based on anonymous's comment.

    I have had further correspondence with Judge Haisler, but all he said was "Patience, I am gathering answers from various heads of departments."

    The ban seems to stem from the common mis-understanding that cyclists cannot drive anywhere but on the side of the road. This road is so narrow, I would never travel closer to the edge than the center of the lane, apparently avoiding this particular hazard by default.

    I am still on the trail, and I will post every new fact as I discover it. But I am troubled by much of this. I hope my concerns are unfounded.

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  16. Seems this is getting MORE controversial:

    http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/2009/11/19/1119bikeban.html

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  17. Hmm, so banning cyclists is based on heavy traffic, poor road condition and recent cyclst accident?

    What about the seven major accidents and death mentioned in the Statesman article are they all cyclists?

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  18. I've ridden this area and this road regularly for nearly 30 years. There ARE dangerous cracks in MANY of these roads - wide, deep, and long. Experienced cyclists know to watch for them and warn their riding companions of them via hand signals during rides. Not knowing that the ban was in effect, I rode this section just yesterday and, to tell you the truth, I cannot picture any such cracks in the area affected by the ban, so that argument doesn't seem to hold water.

    A 3.1 mile detour around the affected area is possible, via Old 290, Littig Rd, Parsons Rd, Lockwood Rd, Taylor Ln. This would seem like a minor issue, but for the fact that I just can't see the difference between the closed section of road and any of the other roads out there. My concern is that it sends an anti-cycling message from a community that is in the heart of some great riding and where cyclists frequent the local restaurants and grocery.

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  19. I believe a cyclist who was injured also attempted to file a civil suit against the city of Manor. The cyclist was actually within the county jurisdiction, not Manor proper. The threat of litigation prompted the ban.

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  20. I have updated the story, here: http://goo.gl/3XKC3

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