Munro: Take it easy, you’ll get there
July 7, 2015
Now that it's summertime, the livin' may be easy, but around here the driving won't be, at least not this year.
Pretty soon you won't be able to throw a cat in Grand County without hitting a traffic cone. Berthoud Pass resurfacing, US Highway 40 work between Fraser and Winter Park, County Road 804 and Highway 9 south of Kremmling are among the major highway projects taking place during the next few months. Coming as they are at the height of the tourism season, the projects are bound to produce delays, congestion and frayed nerves.
I heard there were as many as 50,000 visitors in the county during the Fourth of July weekend. I don't know if that's true, but bumper to bumper action was easy enough to find. I'd like to suggest everyone take a few deep breaths and slow down a bit, literally and figuratively.
In addition to lane closures and delays, expect gravel trucks and slow-moving pieces of heavy equipment to be around, people towing RVs, boats and other toys, workers on the highways, pedestrians more focused on scenery than traffic and the sundry distractions of a high country summer.
One vehicle in too much of a hurry at the wrong time in the wrong place could have disastrous consequences. And for what? To arrive at the super market 30 seconds sooner? Hardly worth the aggravation and risk of road raging.
As it is, crossing Highway 40 in Granby has already become a life-threatening activity most times of the day, despite repainted crosswalks and signs reminding motorists that state law requires them to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. And it's not much different in most other towns in the county.
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The irony of this frenetic pace in a place where people come to relax notwithstanding, there is the sheer futility of being in such a hurry when so many of us get behind the wheel. Fact is, under the vast majority of circumstances, in order to arrive at a destination earlier enough to be meaningful, a motorist needs to drive so fast that they are endangering themselves and others.
RELAX. Give everyone a "brake." You'll get there soon enough.
On two wheels
Speaking of summer driving, as a motorcyclist I am compelled to offer this piece of advice to my car-bound fellow motorists: HANG UP AND DRIVE!
When I ride, I pay a great deal of attention to what other drivers are doing. I see what drivers are doing behind the wheel in considerably more detail than when I'm in a car, and it's not pretty.
Not only are a huge proportion of drivers talking on the phone, a disturbing percentage of them are texting, eyes pointed downward, paying no attention whatsoever to the road in front of them. In Colorado, this can earn one a ticket, but it's more symbolic than effective.
According to drivinglaws.org, a first offense carries a $50 fine plus a $6 surcharge, and a second offense merely doubles the fine. Texting and driving is a primary offense, which means a law enforcement officer can pull over a motorist based only on that offense. However, for a ticket to be issued, an officer must actually witness the infraction.
Seeing this foolishly dangerous behavior from the confines of a relatively safe car is one thing. Witnessing it from the seat of a motorcycle or a bicycle is downright nerve-racking. For the sake of a Facebook post or Snapchat retort, these people are literally risking my life.
As far as I'm concerned, texting and driving should be treated like a DUI; it's every bit as dangerous, and the law ought to recognize that.
Now that summer is here, please watch out for bicyclists and motorcyclists. And please, hang up and drive. Someone's life may depend on it.
One final bit of summer advice: Control your dogs. Not long ago, we ran a letter from a reader who was at a concert when a free-roaming dog mistook her for a fire hydrant. The reader, understandably, was not amused.
The law requires dogs to be under direct control of an owner at all times. That doesn't mean coming eventually when called. It means stopping and obeying immediately or being on a leash. And it sure as heck doesn't mean running around a public venue peeing on people.
To that dog owner and others of his ilk, I say this: Your dog is unfortunate to have you as an owner, but it's lucky your cavalier attitude didn't cost it broken bones or worse.
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