Thursday, February 5, 2009

Cold Spell Creates Thoughts On Safety

Here in the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains, we've had a major return to winter weather over the past several days. Temperatures have been near 9 degrees above zero at bedtime and around 3 or 4 degrees when waking to go to work. Our laid back Labs, Zeke and Orla, have felt minimal need to move out of their cozy new beds. The deep freeze has driven this particular writer to excessive use of caffeine as evidenced by the photo to the left.

One benefit of too much caffeine has been that my brain has stayed pretty much constantly at work. Now, some would argue I'm misusing the term work here and I wouldn't argue the point too seriously. I have had some time to spend cogitating over safety issues and I've found a couple of proposed laws currently in the N.C. Legislature that might provide us all with some enhanced safety. Partially because my coffee intake won't let me sleep and partially because I think these are Bills we should get behind and maybe, just maybe, some of you kind readers will take heed and contact your local N.C. representatives and encourage them to support the Bills.

How many times, have you been out on the bike and noticed the car coming at you being driven by someone with a cell phone stuck to their head or someone trying to text messages while driving directly at you with, oh one, maybe two wheels of their car on YOUR side of the yellow line?

Well, Senate Bill 12 would make it illegal to operate a cell phone or other electronic device while operating a motor vehicle. There are, of course, exceptions for emergencies and emergency personnel and individuals could still use hands free headsets for making their calls. As I read the Bill, texting would appear to be out under all circumstances. This Act, if passed, would become effective on 12/01/2009. The punishment would be a fine of not less than $100.00 plus Court costs.

On a somewhat more global health level, House Bill 2 would ban smoking in all public places or places where the public may enter. It would also ban smoking in any State owned vehicle. The Bill sets limits on how many rooms a lodging establishment may set aside for smoking and puts significant requirements on Tobacco Shops on how they handle second hand smoke. The Bill would seem to effectively eliminate what many restaurants do now by providing one section as "smoking" and one as "non-smoking", which is about as useless an endeavor as one can make. So, maybe there is some hope out there.... Can we say "Let's Keep Hope Alive!"? No, wait a minute, I think that's been used already...

The Bills are still in the legislative process and still winding their ways through the rules. Hopefully, enough support will be garnered to encourage our representatives to support these two Acts.

A quick search on several related cycling terms did not result in any specific current legislation addressing cycling safety. More to come!

Just a quick note that the Tour of California is just around the corner! On a weather related note, we should be enjoying temps in the mid-60's this weekend so hopefully, some riding time will become apparent. For now, I need to bundle up and head home and, oh yeah, I need another cup of coffee...

Until later,

--Zeke
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