Radford business owner starts petition to improve safety for cyclists

Published: May. 10, 2019 at 4:39 PM EDT
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In Radford, a business owner has started a petition to make the streets safer for cyclists. The owner of the Radford Coffee Company said he has firsthand experience on the roads and knows how dangerous they can be

For three and a half years Eric Johnson has been serving up cups of joe at the downtown coffee shop. But now he's hoping to invigorate his customers with more than caffeine. He wants them to take action.

"I think if you sign a petition about bike safety that maybe it'll make you more alert to the presence of bicycles on the road," he said.

The petition is a coffee stained packet he's left out next to the cream and sugar. In it, he's asking city leaders to cap speed limits in city limits at 45 miles per hour. He'd also like more bike lanes added from the Bissett Park entrance on Main Street to Little River Dam Road on the west end of town.

He's also asking for bike lanes along Tyler Ave all the way from Main Street to the edge of the city along with more signage on existing bike lanes.

He's received several hundred signatures already, including the John Hancock of customer Dylan Donley, who said the changing speed limits in town can cause people to drive faster than normal.

"So any way to promote more bicycle safety and keep him safe on the road and other bicyclists on the road seemed like a great think to sign," he said.

Johnson said he thinks 45 miles per hours is a safe maximum in the city, especially along busy roads.

"The speed limit changes several times so it's a little bit confusing," he said. "And I think the street is wide enough to add a bicycle lanes and kinda delineate this is our space."

His space, he said, has been invaded by once before. He was sent to the hospital two years ago after getting hit by a car. Johnson is one of seven cyclists and pedestrians to be in accidents on city streets in the last five years, according to the City of Radford. Plus, Johnson said he's got more than just himself to think about.

"And I have 11 grandchildren and they're starting to ride bicycles in the street," Johnson said. "And so just having the streets be a safer place for everyone is very high on my priority list."

Johnson said he will bring his petition to a Ride for Silence next week which honors cyclists who have been injured or killed. He then plans to take his petition and cover letter to City Council the week after that.