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Cyclists, be my guest - Justin Boron

I was driving on a two-lane road and had somehow steered myself into the winding doldrums of cycling land. My car slowed to 20 mph, and I had little recourse against the group of bikers ahead of me.

The line of cyclists was holding up my course, and frustration was building.

With each turn, I wanted to sideswipe them or throw my car into oncoming traffic to escape the jam.

Instead, in a rare moment of understanding, I slowed and considered the cyclists sharing the road with me.

Should I concede that cyclists deserve a place on today's roads or press down the gas, speeding past them?

The question came to me during the Tour de Georgia and on the eve of Athens' Twilight Criterium, one of the most important events in the Southeast.

So I was inclined to give the riders the benefit of the doubt.

Cyclists are mobile and do a pretty good job of not getting hit.

Most of the time, they don't shoot out in front of cars. Pedestrians on the other hand seem to love running out in the road. People on Segways are worse, thinking they have found a loophole in jaywalking laws because they are still technically a pedestrian, albeit a mobile one.

Cyclists are distinct from things like mopeds or Segways, which grow out of laziness and lack of self-esteem.

Bicycles are also an important component of an urban landscape. I can understand someone being upset if a 10-year old is pedaling slowly down a major highway in the suburbs.

But in the city, a bike is a must, especially to avoid costly parking.

Some places relegate the cycles to bike paths or specially designed lanes, limiting one's ability to explore.

I say give them free reign.

Breathing in the city air when riding is another benefit. They are a sign of public health, and even though I might be 15 minutes late to where ever I am going, I'll yield the right-of-way to them.

But there are those who oppose the cyclists, shouting out their window, "Get a car!"

They categorically turn their noses up at people who dare to enter the road without turning over an engine with a set of keys.

I understand, in an area with few sidewalks, why they may get upset over the constant stop-and-go of driving behind a cyclist.

Maybe they have a point. But ridding bikes from the roads or advocating some Draconian punishment is not the solution.

Justin Boron is the government reporter for the News-Daily. His column appears Monday. He can be reached at 770-478-5753 or jboron@news-daily.com .