Racing through Carroll CARROLL COUNTY

January 28, 1993

New rules governing bicycle racing in Carroll County strike a good balance between the desires of motorists and the needs of the cyclists, who like racing amid the county's rural vistas. In fact, the county may become an even more popular setting for bike races now that Baltimore has implemented new rules requiring sponsors of any such events in the city to pick up all the related costs.

Even before Baltimore's new policy, Carroll had become one of the region's more popular locales for bicycle races. The urbanization of neighboring Howard and Baltimore counties has driven the bicyclists to Carroll for its well-paved, lightly traveled roads and scenic countryside.

Racers from Northern Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware and other parts of Maryland have tested their speed, strength and stamina against the county's topography. Some of them include last year's national collegiate champion as well as competitors in the most recent U.S. Olympic cycling trials. Over each of the past dozen years, between five and 15 races have been held in Carroll.

However, complaints have arisen from some motorists, who have been caught behind packs of racers. Although these cyclists reach speeds of as much as 35 miles per hour, drivers used to zipping along at 55 mph, or more, were aggravated.

Many of the motorists said they would have appreciated knowing that a race was going to be held so they could have avoided those roads. By requiring race sponsors to obtain permits in advance, county officials will be able to post signs before and during races to warn motorists of possible delays.

The bicycling rules are designed to govern races so cyclists travel in tightly bunched packs and usually take up a lane of traffic and don't stop to turn corners at intersections. The county rules closely parallel those of the United States Cycling Federation. The rules also prohibit cyclists from having more than two races every 30 days. The permit fees are reasonable and should not discourage sponsors from staging these races.

While bicycling has yet to enjoy the attention that some other sports receive in America, we are glad to see that the county is not hindering its development. Aspiring Greg LeMondes will continue to have ample opportunity to hone their skills on Carroll's rolling hills.

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