Move over: New law aims to make more room for bicyclists
July 2, 2009
In training for an Ironman race, Kristen Lodge of Granby traveled an estimated 1,000 miles on her road bike on Grand County’s two major highways.
“When I first moved here, I wanted to start road biking, and people warned me about route 40 with all the log trucks and everything, so I was sort of scared to start biking,” she said.
Enduring the hills and adverse weather while training this spring, Lodge found that most motorists were courteous, if not empathetic bicyclists themselves.
“I had to ride on (Highways) 40 and 34 for the majority, and 90 percent of the vehicles give you plenty of room, but it’s that small percentage of people not paying attention who come really close to you, and that’s really scary,” she said.
Come August 5 when a new bicycle law takes effect, that “small percentage” of motorists could be slapped with a Class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense, according to a new state law.
Dubbed “The Bicycle Safety Act,” the legislation defines basic bicycle-motorist courtesies, such as a 3-foot clearance between moving cars and bicycles.
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“It’s a shame we have to have laws for common sense things,” said avid Grand County road bicyclist George Davis of Hot Sulphur Springs. On average, Davis travels 60 miles a week on his road bike.
Even so, the law may be a “great idea,” he said, especially since road shoulders are not all adequate for two-tire travel. “That white line, where there are places that do not have shoulders, that’s our bike path right there,” Davis said.
“The majority of people out there who drive usually give you 3 to 4 feet anyway,” he continued. “It’s the people not thinking who sometimes squeeze you in on the road. I’m just surprised that we need a law to govern people to be more courteous.”
Senate Bill 148 gives motorists the statutory OK to straddle the centerline when passing a bicyclist- when safe to do so.
The law also spells out proper lane uses for cyclists and gives provisions on riding two abreast.
And, it defines the illegal act of launching projectiles at cyclists.
“To make that a law, it says something about Colorado and its recreation,” Lodge said. “People spend vacation dollars to come here and recreate. I think that’s important.”
Incidentally, in the Ironman competition in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, Lodge ended up a respectable mid-finisher.
And where is the hazard spot for Grand County’s cyclists?
“There’s a really bad shoulder on Red Dirt Hill, it’s always the worst,” Lodge said. “That’s were motorists have to be aware of cyclists because cyclists have to be on the roadway.”
– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.