By Jeff Gallatin
Bicycling enthusiast and award-winning middle school teacher Lawrence Kuh is on the road to using recently updated bicycling laws as an educational tool.
City Council approved the new laws at its March 24 meeting. It was the first update of bicycling laws in the city in several decades. Afterward, Kuh, expressed his and other bicycling enthusiasts’ appreciation of council’s actions.
“It’s a definite upgrade and just adds that much more to the community,” he said.
Kuh, who helped lead the drive to get the Bay Skate & Bike Park and also is one of the primary backers of the Bay Bike to School challenge and the Bay bicycling organization, said his next step is utilizing the new laws as a teacher.
“One of the provisions of the new Common Core standards is utilizing texting and helping students better utilize it in reading,” he said. “So, we’re going to be working with students on using texting to better their reading skills.”
Kuh, a Bay middle school teacher, said he has already made some initial contacts with administrators and language teachers about using the new laws in texting work with students.
“It will serve several purposes,” he said. “It will help them with the reading skills and it also will help educate them about the new bicycling laws in the city.”
In addition, Kuh said having better bicycle safety laws in the city and young riders who know them is also a major benefit.
“That’s good for the entire community,” he said. “Making things safer was why we supported getting the updates in place.”
Kuh, who along with several other bike advocates tried unsuccessfully to have the updates include riders being able to ride two abreast instead of single file on Lake Road, said he would support seeking that again in the future. Council members as well as police Chief Mark Spaetzel, himself a bicycle rider on Lake Road, said potential safety concerns for riders dealing with the heavy motor vehicle traffic on Lake Road was why they did not want bike riders two abreast on Lake.
“I’m all for reviewing the ordinances after one biking season or sometime in the near future to see how they are working out for the city and bikers,” he said. “A review would allow us as a city to continue upgrading or bettering them. So, considering whether to allow riders two abreast would certainly fall under that.”
Kuh said he would apply the same logic to Ward 1 Councilman Dave Tadych’s concerns about the clause allowing bike riders as young as 7 to be on the city roadways on bikes. Tadych, who missed several council meetings for health reasons – including the first two readings of the legislation – said he still would like the city to raise the minimum age from 7 to 12, because he didn’t want younger children dealing with trucks and other large vehicles on Lake Road. Council President Paul Koomar said he wanted to go ahead with passing the updates, but said he had no problem with Tadych and others circling back and looking at the legislation and age limits later.
Kuh said he has no argument with additional discussion later of a younger riding age.
“It’s a legitimate concern, and it’s certainly something that could be discussed in a review of how the ordinances are working out,” he said. “I would wait at least a season to see how they’re working overall.”