Cyclists view tickets as sign of equality

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Cyclists in downtown Charleston say getting ticketed for traffic violations is not a cause of frustration, but a sign of progress.

"For motorists to hear that cyclists might have gotten a warning ticket, it lets them know they're trying to do a fair playing field," said Tod Mattson, a 20 year employee of The Bicycle Shoppe and bicycle enthusiast.  "Cyclists should have to follow all the same rules as motorists."

Earlier this fall, Charleston police began ticketing bike riders upwards of hundreds of dollars for going the wrong way on a one way street, failing to yield, or ignoring traffic lights; major offenses for those behind the wheel.  With biking to work up 43 percent since 2000 according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Mattson says bikers are slowly getting what they want; a right to the road he says they must continue to share.

"If the government, the police and other people begin to respect us as cyclists, as [they do with] motor vehicles, I think it is a plus that is going to keep going," said Mattson.

That plus likely to include a greater push for alternative transportation and stricter energy efficiency standards on the national level, said Mattson.  Locally, perhaps more abundant bike locks or bike lanes.

"The road is not just for bikes," said Mattson.  "As long as we as... cyclists respect that... I think that is what it takes."

While Mattson says some Bicycle Shoppe clients are prone to complain, that hasn't stopped most from looking at the big picture.

"It's a win-win situation," said Mattson.  "For a lot of people... this is their car, their transportation... we have to make it a fair street out there."

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