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A group of hardcore local cyclists is pushing back against a proposal to ban bikes and pedestrians along the Rome bypass after what police say is a rising number of collisions with fast-moving vehicles.

"This seems like a case of punishing the victim," said Chris Carey, who rallied about 20 riders to meet Monday with City Commissioner Wendy Davis through a public Facebook page called Rome Rides A Bike.

Carey said most of the cyclists in the room ride at least 25 miles a day and often 50 to 100 miles. They're experienced on the roads and have good safety equipment. Still, many of them had stories of being struck or grazed by vehicles.

Davis is a member of the city's Traffic Committee, which is examining the recommendation from the police and public services departments. The committee, which includes Commissioners Sundai Stevenson and Randy Quick, asked for a more detailed presentation at its November meeting.

"We work really hard to be a cycling-positive community," Davis said. "This (ban) seems to be a contradiction to what we're doing."

However, she rejected the idea that the proposal targets cyclists — asking instead for solutions to the public safety concerns that the hour-long discussion appeared to confirm.

"That's part of what the police are saying: You're doing everything right and still get hit, so that road's too dangerous for cyclists," she said.

Better education — for drivers and bike riders alike — along with more visible signage appeared to be growing as a consensus.

"I would be interested in seeing this addressed not just from a cyclist's point of view, but also those people who are dependent on bikes for transportation," said Harry Brock.

Carey said he would dedicate more space on the Facebook page to education, and others had suggestions about working with schools and other groups such as Bike! Walk! Northwest Georgia. Several are volunteer "ambassadors" for BikeLaw.org, a safe cycling advocacy group.

The goal, they said, is for drivers and cyclists to stop blaming each other for frustrations or dangers and learn to share the road.

Public Services Manager Kirk Milam also sat in on the meeting, although he didn't comment. He's gathering accident data and information on how other communities address bike safety issues.

Milam said the Georgia Department of Transportation has the final say on the use of the bypass — which is a state route — but typically supports requests from local jurisdictions.

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