Fort Worth issues warning to copycat bridge-riders

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by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on January 13, 2014 at 7:06 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 13 at 8:51 PM

FORT WORTH — Stay off the arches.

That's the message from the City of Fort Worth after a BMX stunt cyclist crossed the Trinity River on the arches of the new West 7th Street Bridge in a daredevil feat on Saturday.

Mat Olson told News 8 he had contemplated the dangerous bicycle stunt for some time, but had to wait until conditions were right.

Police officers warned him after the breathtaking ride, but did not write a citation.

WATCH: Extended version of Mat Olson's daring ride

On Monday, city officials at first referred questions to the Texas Department of Transportation, because that agency was in charge of bridge construction. TxDOT said it has turned the bridge over to Fort Worth, and that the city is now responsible.

On Monday, afternoon the City issued this statement:

The new West 7th Street Bridge is a modern engineering marvel that will provide an inviting connection between our vibrant downtown and our growing cultural district for decades to come. It is the product of a great partnership between the city and TxDOT, and we look forward to the day that work is complete and the maintenance and operation of the structure is taken over by the city. It is a beautiful and safe structure when used properly and for its intended purpose.

That said, we discourage residents to participate in risky behaviors like that of the BMX rider this weekend. The arches of the bridge were not designed for that purpose, and climbing, walking or riding a bicycle or skateboard on them is a dangerous endeavor. We are studying ways to reinforce that message, but in the meantime we encourage residents to use and enjoy the new structure safely and in the method it was designed and built for.

As far as possible charges go, general traffic laws apply to bicycles, unless specifically exempted.

For instance, Texas Transportation Code section 551.103 requires a bike rider generally to ride as near as practicable to the edge of the roadway. The edge of the roadway doesn't include the arch support of the roadway.

But police officers have discretion to write or not write tickets, and the officers on Saturday chose to not ticket Mat Olson.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com


Watch an extended version of Mat Olson's video:


 

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