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Critical Mass unites cyclists

November 10, 2011

Bike riders came from all over Lincoln Parish to participate in the Critical Mass bike ride. The ride started at Lincoln Parish Library, went through downtown Ruston and concluded at Hide-Away Park. – Photo by Kyle Kight

JUSTIN FORT
Staff Reporter

 

Forty bikers stood in the parking lot of Lincoln Parish Library to show their discontent over the lack of support and lack of recognition for the biking community.

 

Citizens of Ruston gathered at 3 p.m. Nov. 3 for Critical Mass, an event where cyclists expressed their concerns to their city’s general population and public officials.

 

“It was a feeler event,” said Justin Stoppleworth, owner of Turbo Goat. “It wasn’t meant to change the world.”

 

Stoppleworth and other local cyclists decided to host the event after four bikers were hit within the last month in and around Ruston. The last cyclist hit, 17-year-old Seth Cole Hanchey, is still in an intensive care unit in Baton Rouge.

 

Stoppleworth said he knew it was time to organize an event after a cyclist was critically injured in mid-afternoon. He said more people should recognize cyclists’ rights to be on the road.

 

“They’re supposed to be on the road,” Stoppleworth said. “They have a right, and there are laws that allow them to ride.”

 

Timothy Cormier, an avid cyclist, agreed with Stoppleworth and helped publicize the event.

 

“I care about the cycling community in Ruston,” Cormier said. “The world of cycling is a niche in the community where strong bonds can be formed just because two people are into bikes.”

 

Stoppleworth said it is the responsibility of the biking community to try to minimize the risks of cycling. However, he also said the general public has to be aware and show concern for those who ride on the road.

 

“We have to push for advocacy,” Stoppleworth said. “Half the people see us as pests. No one is going to do it for us.”

 

Stoppleworth and Cormier said the bike ride was held to raise awareness and to see how many community riders would participate.

 

“The purpose was to have fun with other people who have the same passion in life,” Cormier said. “It is an event in the spirit of fun. It is not a protest like many people think it is.”

 

After seeing approximately 75 people riding in the event, Cormier and Stoppleworth said they plan to organize more events like it and perhaps become more aggressive.

 

“We didn’t want to cause any problems with this ride,” Stoppleworth said. “We just made a 5-mile loop. Our next ride should have about 200 people.”

 

Cormier said participating in a large ride with a common purpose is a special experience that can really spark change.

 

“It’s a unique experience riding your bike on a major thoroughfare without the fear of being hit by a car and being able to look over your shoulder and see a line of riders side-by-side taking up two blocks,” Cormier said.

 

Stoppleworth and other cyclists are currently looking into fundraisers that would allow them to put up cautionary signs or designate biking lanes.

 

“If you can make your presence known, then people will get your point,” Stoppleworth said.

 

“Cyclists and non-cyclists need to work together.”

 

Email comments to asr017@latech.edu.

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One Response to Critical Mass unites cyclists

  1. Chance Reply

    November 10, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    It would be great to have bike lanes. However, there are steps that cyclists need to take on their own to improve their own safety. This starts with obeying the rules of the road. Everyday I see cyclists ride their bike straight through intersections ignoring the stop signs. The red octagons by the side of the road apply to every vehicle on the road including those with two wheels. More cyclists also need to be wearing helmets. I rarely see anyone on a bike wearing one, and they really should, especially while on the roads.

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