Should bicycles be banned from Toll 49?

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - A meeting on Tuesday in Henderson, TX will decide if Toll 49 in Smith County should be off limits to bicyclists.

The North East Texas Regional Mobility Authority, or NET RMA, is scheduled to discuss the possible bike ban.

East Texas cyclists say Loop 49 has everything they look for in a great ride and should not be closed.

"Cyclists love to have a wonderful smooth big wide shoulder and that's what Loop 49 provides," says Jonathan Wolf, a cyclist and realtor-associate in Tyler.

Wolf says Loop 49 is a road everyone enjoys.

"Everything from people who are decked out in the really fancy stuff to just people that live close and are out getting some exercise because it's a nice path," Wolf says.

But that all could end. Cyclist Mike Butler says the issue on Tuesday's agenda is mostly about safety concerns.

"The idea that has been presented to us by the RMA is safety. They're looking out for the safety of the cyclist and feeling like that is probably the best thing to do is to close it," Butler says.

Butler says officials expect traffic on Loop 49 to increase once it connects to I-20. Still, he feels it's the safest road to ride.

"The different roads that are used by the cyclists are 69, 155, and the loop. And the thing about the different roads is the loop presents itself as the least amount of traffic," Butler says.

Members of the Tyler Bike Club have prepared some proposals to keep Loop 49 open to cyclists. Butler says those proposals are part of a much larger cause.

"What it's going to do is set Tyler in a position where we're going to be a growth city for the upcoming rest of the century, and I think that all of these components have to be a part of that Cycling has to be a part of it," says Butler

Butler worked on the Tyler 21 comprehensive plan, a sort of roadmap for city growth. He says keeping roads open to cyclists is an important part of Tyler's future.

The NET RMA did not want to talk on camera and released a statement saying they would like to reserve comment until after the board has given the opportunity for the public to comment on this very important safety matter.

The NET RMA will make the final decision on whether or not to pass the ban. Tx DOT has no control over Toll 49.

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