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Welcome, bicyclists

Two thousand bicyclists — and their families and friends — will be in the Washington area this weekend for Cycle NC’s annual Spring Ride. That’s going to be a boost for the area’s economy.

Some of them will lodge at area hotels, motels and bed-and-breakfast establishments. Many of them will eat at area restaurants. Other bicyclists and their families will spend money at area shops. Some bicyclists will buy bicycle equipment from area suppliers.

The city, county and state will benefit from revenue generated by taxes — sales and occupancy — the visitors will pay this weekend.

Despite the money the bicyclists leave behind, there are some folks who complain about them being in Washington and using area roads during the weekend. Some people complain about the “tent city” at Festival Park, saying it makes the waterfront look like a low-rent area. With 2,000 bicyclists and their followers in the area for up to three nights, area lodging establishments don’t have enough room for them. As for the “tent city,” Festival Park is a public park. When looking at those tents, consider them dollar signs.

Others complain about the bicyclists taking over area roads, saying those roads should be reserved for motorists who pay a fuels tax that helps maintain existing roads and build new roads. Well, many of the bicyclists using area roads this weekend drove their vehicles to Washington. They bought gas for those vehicles and paid the fuels tax, thereby doing their part to provide revenue us to maintain roads or build new ones.

Don’t forget that state law allows bicyclists to travel on roads. Of course, those bicyclists must obey traffic laws. Remember those “Share the road” signs? They were erected for a purpose: reminders that cars and bicycles have the same access to roads.

As for bicyclists riding two or three abreast, that’s a safety thing. Riding that way makes it easier for motorists to see them. The foremost concern of the Spring Ride organizers is safety for bicyclists and motorists.

Sharing the road means sharing the responsibility when it comes to safety.