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Riders call for tougher action in car/bike crashes

SANTA Fe – In the wake of recent high-profile crashes where bicyclists were seriously injured, dozens of bike riders came to City Hall Wednesday night to call for making Santa Fe a more bike-friendly town.

Speakers said they’re concerned about police enforcement in car-bike crashes and called for improvements like paved road shoulders and push-button signals at bike and pedestrian crossings.

“Many riders fear for their lives every time they take their bikes onto the road,” said Carl Gable, whose remarks got a huge ovation from dozens of riders who showed up for the first City Council meeting with new Mayor Alan Webber and three new councilors who were elected last week.

Gable noted that in a road-rage wreck earlier this month outside the city limits, a driver stopped and backed toward a group of riders from Santa Fe Seniors on Bikes. While the driver and the SOBs give different accounts of what happened, the resulting collision put one rider in the hospital with serious injuries and two others were hurt. Gable noted that the driver was not arrested after the crash and still hasn’t been charged.

In another crash, within the city limits in November, a professional cyclist sustained serious injuries when a driver who said he couldn’t see with sun in his eyes made a left turn in front of her on West Alameda. The driver got probation and had to pay $156 in court fees and costs for careless driving.

Gable said there needs to be more than “a slap on the wrist” in such cases.

Other speakers said Santa Fe is becoming a destination for both road and mountain biking but needs to do more to make cycling safe.

Also Wednesday, the newly constituted governing body got organized. Webber appointed councilors to various committes and named District 1 City Councilor Signe Lindell, who was elected to a second term last week, as mayor pro tem. The pro tem serves as chair of council meetings when the mayor is absent.

Webber named new District 3 Councilor Roman Abeyta, a former Santa Fe County manager, as chair of the council’s Finance Committee. Councilor Chris Rivera will chair the Public Utilities Committee and Peter Ives, who was one of four mayoral candidates beaten by Webber in the March 6 election, will chair the Public Works Committee.