Justice for Cyclists: Boulder County DAs Push for Results in Cycling Cases

By Maureen & Megan

Vehicular assault - Leaving the scene of a crash involving serious bodily injury - Failure to notify police of a crash. These are some of the initial charges brought against two drivers in collisions with cyclists in Boulder County. In both cases, the cyclists were seriously injured and required surgery.

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Boulder cyclist Travis Lechner was on a group training ride in Longmont, CO in December 2017 when he was struck by a pick-up truck going at least 45 mph. Travis was making a left-hand turn when the driver attempted to pass him on the left, crossing a double yellow line.

A witness told police that Travis had signaled before turning left.

The collision sent Travis flipping up over the truck, landing in a ditch approximately 50 feet down the road. He was transported by ambulance with multiple injuries including a broken clavicle and wrist, a concussion, fractured ribs and multiple abrasions.

His left shoulder was completely shattered.

 Travis shown with DA Adrian VanNice, fellow cyclist (L), and Megan (R)

Travis shown with DA Adrian VanNice, fellow cyclist (L), and Megan (R)

An off-duty police officer riding in the group of cyclists canvassed the area following the crash. He happened to find the truck that met a witness’ description and called police. The driver, who was drunk at 10 am, neither had a valid driver’s license nor insurance. He was arrested and taken to jail. This was his second DUI.

Travis’ injuries required surgery to his wrist and shoulder. Unable to care for himself following surgery, he stayed at his coach’s house for over a month. His wrist was in a cast and he had to wear a sling, which completely immobilized him. The first night following surgery to his shoulder, Travis woke up in the middle of the night in the worst pain he had ever experienced. “It hurt about 10,000 times worse than getting hit by a car. I have never been in so much pain my whole life.”

He missed almost two months of work due to his injuries and suffered financial damages. He was not able to drive, lost fitness and training time on his bike, and could not sleep most nights due to the sling he had to wear as well as sleeping upright at a 45-degree angle. He needed help doing everyday tasks such as showering, getting dressed and cooking.

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Like Travis, 17 year-old Riley Sheehan was also struck by a driver in Boulder County who then fled the scene. It was March 7, 2018. Riley, an elite junior cyclist who rides for LUX Cycling Team and USA Cycling, was training in preparation for three international races in Europe at the end of March.

He was riding on the far right of the shoulder on U.S. 36 when he heard the sound of an engine. It was a truck going 45-50 mph. The driver tried to get around two lanes of traffic by passing on the right using the shoulder. That’s when he crashed into Riley, launching him into the air.

The driver then ran over the bike and left the scene of the crash.

Riley hit the ground so hard that his clavicle broke, causing a section of the bone to penetrate into his chest muscle. His helmet broke in five different places when his head slammed into the ground. He suffered a concussion, enduring a headache and nausea and had scrapes and bruises all over his body. “I felt so angry that someone would hit me and then leave me by the roadside.”

Witnesses reported that a red truck had been driving aggressively prior to the crash. One witness followed the driver and attempted to get him to return to the scene. The witness told the driver that he had his license plate number and that police had been called. The driver yelled at the witness and sped away, leaving the scene again.

The license plate traced back to a red Ford F-150 owned by a Greeley resident.  Officers observed damage to the front right side of the truck when they arrived at the driver’s house. He was arrested by Colorado State Patrol on suspicion of vehicular assault, leaving the scene of a crash involving serious bodily injury, failure to notify police of the crash, reckless driving, passing on a shoulder, failure to obtain a valid CO registration within 90 days of becoming a resident and driving with expired plates. The driver had moved from Texas to Colorado in 2014 but still had Texas plates.

Too often these collisions are treated as ‘just accidents,’ but that diminishes what my family and I have been through.
— Riley Sheehan addressing the Court, at the driver's sentencing hearing

Riley had to undergo surgery to repair his broken clavicle. In the days leading up to the surgery, he was in extreme pain and could not sleep. Further surgery will be required to remove the stainless steel plate and screws. Riley still does not have full range of motion and can feel the metal plate every time he moves his right shoulder.

The experience has been painful, frustrating, depressing and draining both physically and emotionally. Riley missed school, training and racing opportunities.

His life and physical body are forever altered, leaving him to question his bike racing future.

 Riley’s family with Fred Johnson, Chief Trial Deputy, 20th Judicial District Attorney’s Office

Riley’s family with Fred Johnson, Chief Trial Deputy, 20th Judicial District Attorney’s Office

When it came time for the drivers’ criminal case sentencing hearings, both Travis and Riley, along with his family, attended and addressed the court. They took part in the process, and it made a difference. Travis and Riley wanted to emphasize to the court, the district attorneys and to the defendants that what happens in these cases matters very much to the victims as well as to the cycling community as a whole.

Riley’s mom spent well over 100 hours filling out paperwork, documentation, getting medical referrals and going to appointments with Riley. His dad had to miss work as well.

Travis felt that it was important to attend, so that people see there is more going on. It is not just a bike that got hit on the road. “I think it’s important we show up and people know that we’re paying attention. We want to be seen and heard,” said Travis.

Fred Johnson, the DA in Riley’s case, believes that community members are an integral part of the criminal justice system:

One of our most important functions is making sure their voices are heard.  Victims at a sentencing hearing are the persons most affected by the crimes committed, and their input is extremely important to us as prosecutors and to the judge deciding the sentence.  When the crime implicates a specific community’s interest and safety such as the cycling community, it’s important for members of that community to attend sentencing hearings so the court can hear their perspective directly and consider it in reaching a just result.
— Fred Johnson, Boulder DA

The Boulder DA’s Office took these cases seriously and made very severe punishment recommendations to the judge.

Boulder County is a unique community and a great place to ride with an avid cycling community. The safety of the cycling community is very important to us as an office and we strive to enforce the laws in a way that maximizes the effectiveness of those laws in ensuring safety on the roads.  We take violations of the law that hurt cyclists extremely seriously, especially when a driver flees the scene in an effort to avoid responsibility. This disregard for the safety and well-being of the victim is especially egregious because it puts the victim’s life and physical safety in further jeopardy,” said Johnson.

The driver in Travis’ case pled guilty to driving under the influence and reckless vehicular assault. He received a suspended sentence of one year in the Boulder County Jail and must complete 200 hours of community service and three years of probation as well as serve nine months of jail-work release.

In Riley’s case, the driver pled guilty to both felony counts - leaving the scene of an accident causing serious bodily injury and vehicular assault. He was sentenced to three years of probation, with 90 days of jail, 120 more days of jail on work release, and 200 hours of community service work.  Conditions of probation included no driving until probation is completed and the court approves it, substance abuse and mental health evaluations with any recommended treatment, and completion of a bicycle driver’s course.

Our office plans to keep showing up at sentencing hearings. It matters. It makes a difference. It counts! #ShowUP. #CrashNOTaccident

#10000milesin2018: Month 10 update

#10000milesin2018: Month 10 update!

Total Miles to Date: Target: 8333 miles…My mileage: 7889

Total Number of Strava Group Members: 390

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This month, we would like to introduce you to Bruno Echegoyen-Chirinos from Denver, CO.

Bruno has been a cyclist for three years and decided to join the challenge because he wanted to bike at least 200 miles a week to work. He also was curious to find out what it would be like to acquire the level of fitness needed over a year.

In order to get the miles in for the challenge, Bruno commutes by bike anytime he needs to go somewhere, whether it’s getting groceries, going to concerts, meeting friends or shopping. Instead of transporting his bike by car when he goes mountain biking, Bruno rides his bike to the trail. Riding on weekends has helped get ahead on the miles some weeks, but it can also be very tiring at times.

The goal of riding 10,000 miles in one year has been harder than he expected and continues to be very challenging. Bruno gets in about 120 miles for the week by the end of Wednesday. Sometimes, the third day after riding to work is still very difficult due to soreness. By the time the new year comes, he will try to ride to work every day and use his car much more rarely.

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Bruno is motivated to meet his goal by remembering that it's a privilege to be able to bike to work and that he can make a small difference in air quality in his local area while he’s building fitness and setting an example for how people could choose to commute. “The way I see it, it would be to many people's convenience to have an active lifestyle.”

Last year, Bruno rode around 5,000 miles. His current mileage is 6,204 miles. We wish you all the best in hitting 10,000 in 2018!

Congratulations to our members who have reached 10,000 miles!

Cam Candelaria from South Jordan, UT – “I’m at 12,300 going for 14K.”

Dan Dwyer from Syracuse, NY - “At 11,472 going 4 13K!”

Tom Adams of Longmont, CO - “Just completed 10,000 miles for 2018!”

Sidney Holzer from Sicklerville, New Jersey - “I’m at 10,562 miles for the year, goal is 12,000 miles. All my miles are outside miles. In 2016 I had my best year of 18,110 miles.”

DJ Juano Rivera Ortiz of Lakeland, Florida - “I Made it!. 10k plus miles today.completed with 10 Century Rides. Thank you for the support :) .”

The Dangers of Social Media in Your Personal Injury Case

By Maureen & Megan

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Social media has become part of everyday life for many people. First thing in the morning, you reach for your phone to check your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts. You post vacation photos, share pictures of your new home or use these platforms to update friends and family or to voice your opinion. Social media is how we communicate nowadays.

However, we must be extremely careful with what we communicate on social media. Employees have been fired for posting disparaging remarks about their employers. Posts that breach confidentiality agreements have led to loss of settlements. Then, there are the photos of someone bungee jumping all the while claiming a serious injury.

That might sound extreme or even ridiculous, but there are plenty of personal injury cases that have been lost for this very reason. Any photos or posts that you have created - whether related to your case or not - can or may be introduced by insurance companies or defense counsel and used as evidence against you.

Do not post anything about your case - injuries, recovery, your equipment, etc. - until it is concluded. Every comment, photo or tag can only harm your case. Do not post old photos or old content as a “place filler” either during this time, as they can be damaging, too.

The list of cases where plaintiffs are losing good cases because of something they posted online is endless. Judges are forcing production of private online content ­from dating sites, family history sites like Ancestry.com and others like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.

(For example - Girl Costs Father $80k with FB post).

(Also -Tinkering with FB account costs Plaintiff over $700k).

After having a couple of our clients’ cases substantially undermined by their social media posts, our law firm now has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to clients posting anything to social media until their case is closed. This is so that we can achieve the maximum success and obtain maximum monetary outcome on our clients’ behalf. Any post-whether crash-related or not- threatens a client’s case. The point is: it simply isn’t worth it.

The reality is that most cards are already stacked against plaintiffs when we face insurance companies with unlimited resources. Insurance companies and defense counsel will go to great lengths to investigate you. They focus their investigations on social media posts and will often place people under surveillance. Anything you put on the Internet is not private and is absolutely going to be discovered by the insurance company we are working against.

While your account may be marked "private" now, the insurance company defense team will request the contents of your accounts, and they will get them. More and more courts across the country are ruling that there is no expectation of privacy for things shared on the Internet, and the judges are ruling that these socials must be produced­, private or not.

When you broadcast things online, the insurance company is going to find that post. Our firm has seen that become exhibit #1 at trial.

Social media that can be discovered also includes posts made by others who tag you in a post or photograph. To prevent this from happening, set your privacy settings so that tagging is not allowed or permission must be granted before tagging can be done.

Do not accept future friend requests from people you do not personally know. Insurance companies, their attorneys and private investigators will try to gain access to your social media in order to obtain information that can be used to defeat or damage your case.

Be advised, deleting social media posts is not an option while your case is being handled. You cannot take anything down that you have created on the Internet. It has been ruled by numerous courts across the country that when you create a social media post and then delete it, it is considered spoliation of evidence. It will likely result in hardship to your case and possibly financial penalties.

There is no post that will add value to your case, only posts that will detract. Online content posts offer zero upside for the client, or case or recovery. It is almost always 100% downside.

So, when your lawyer advises you to take a break from social media during the pendency of your case, please listen! Social media posts will be used against you to negatively impact your case and will result in the the loss of thousands of dollars. They can even cost you the entire case!

Don’t want to take our word for it? Here are just a few examples of what other lawyers have to say:

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3

Example 4

Example 5

PODCAST EPISODE: HERE.

#10000milesin2018: Month 9 update

Total Miles to Date: Target: 7,497 miles…My mileage: 7,096

Total Number of Strava Group Members: 398

Some of our members have already reached -or are close to reaching- their goal of riding 10,000 Miles in 2018:

-Cam Candelaria from South Jordan, UT – “I’m at 10,900!!”

-Aaron "Rambo" Harrison of Hillsboro, Oregon – “8755 miles as of this morning! Shouldn’t have any trouble hitting 10,000!”

-DJ Juano Rivera in Highland City, Florida – “9,350 on last Sunday. Will complete it with just Centuries rides :). Keep on Pedaling :)”

Julian Thomas from Leeds, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom – “Just gone thru 10k today.”

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This month, we are featuring Dave Watkins, 82, from Polk City, Florida. As of Sept. 25, he had ridden 10,000 miles and is still going strong.  Dave, a former USA Cycling CAT II cyclist, ran the Boston Marathon four years.

How long have you been a cyclist?

I began serious cycling in the early 70s when a faculty member at a small college in PA. It began with a Schwinn Paramount and a collegian race on the bike at Penn State University. Crashed in that race but recovered to continue racing and became a Cat.II cyclist and qualified for three years to ride in the Masters National Championships. Each year, for personal reasons, I was unable to compete in the championships. Very disappointing to this day because I had competed well against each of the winners in numerous races.

Why did you decide to join the challenge?

I ride every day and decided to take on a challenge beyond simply riding to be able to be ride with cyclists 40/50 years younger than me.

How have you incorporated commuting by bike/getting in the miles for the challenge into your daily life?

I am retired and no longer have to head to an office or workplace. My schedule every day includes a 25/30 mile ride beginning at midnight. After daylight, there is a leisurely ride with my wife who now rides an e-bike and can ride at 20 mph. Late afternoon, I’ll hop on the bike for a 7/10 mile ride before a glass of wine and an IPA beer.

You have reached 10,000 miles. Congratulations! That’s quite an accomplishment. What’s behind the drive to keep on going?

Meeting a personal goal is important. Staying healthy is so important at my age. Being a competitor is a driving force. I played baseball during college at Penn State where we played in the finals of the College World Series.  

How did you feel when you reached the goal of riding 10,000 miles? Were you excited/relieved/surprised?

This is not the first year I have met the goal of 10,000 miles. I love looking at my Strava data each day to see how many miles I have for the day, week and year. Love to see how well my Strava friends are doing with their rides. The kudos I receive help motivate me.

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What kind of feedback have you gotten from friends or other cyclists?

The feedback from fellow Strava cyclists has been incredible. Also, I rarely post on Facebook but whenever I reach the 10,000 mile goal I make a post on Facebook thanking all who have contributed to meeting the challenge possible - my wife, Strava friends and cyclists with whom I ride in group rides.

A Close Call -The Importance of Bike Cameras

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“Education and awareness are always the way to go and the results can be most rewarding for all. I hope this helps everyone become better bike ambassadors on the roads, paths and trails.”

Guest Post by Gerry Stephenson – Cyclist, Commuter, and Bike Ambassador

*Gerry uses the Cycliq front and back bike cameras.

Hi, my name is Gerry and I have been cycling since 2001. Presently, I commute to and from work about eight to nine months a year and have been doing so the last four to five years. My route varies from 10-12 miles and includes both road and bike paths. When I ride, I always try to be a safe rider and educate others when it makes sense.

While commuting home on June 29th, 2018, I was riding north on a neighborhood street approaching a T-intersection. It was late afternoon; traffic was very light. I noticed a car and a fire truck preparing to come on the road behind me. The car passed with plenty of room before the intersection and my impending right turn. However, to my surprise, the fire truck driver decided that they had enough room to pass me only to turn right in front of me with clearly not enough space. I had to brake hard to avoid being hit. It should be noted that the fire truck had no flashing lights or sirens on at the time.  

  Footage captured from Gerry’s Cycliq bike camera.

Footage captured from Gerry’s Cycliq bike camera.

I did not attempt to confront the driver or squeeze in to the right of the truck. I did swear and was very upset at this close call. Knowing that I had this entire incident recorded with my Cycliq bike cameras (front and rear mounted cameras), I chose to wait until I got home and review the video and decide what to do. Cooler heads always prevail, and my focus is always on educating others, be it drivers or cyclists, in times like these. After reviewing the video, it was very clear that the fireman was at fault for not allowing me the three-foot rule, and I felt that they did not realize the actual size of the vehicle they were driving.

I emailed the fire department and very politely explained what had happened and included the video of the close call. I never once mentioned that I wanted the driver of the fire truck reprimanded or charged. What I asked for was an apology, and that this video be used to show and teach the department to be mindful of cyclists. Later that evening or possibly the next day, I received an email from the fire department apologizing and promising to add this video footage to their department training. This incident was reported by the liaison to the fire department commander as well.

First response from the fire department’s liaison:

“Hi Gerry,

First let me send you my apologies for the incident with our department, I have notified the Lieutenant and Battalion Chief on duty the day of your incident and the Chief of Staff is aware and corrective actions will be taken.

I will make sure the Chief gets your video and we will be sure to use it as a training piece in our driver/operator program so this never happens again.”

 Second email from the liaison:

“I believe a lesson learned/corrective action is being written, then it will go to the whole Department, then I believe the Fire Chief will send it to you.”

My Email:

“Hi, I truly appreciate your timely response and apology. I try my best to be very viable and obey all the rules of the road while cycling and all I ask in return is that all drivers do the same. So that you know I have a great contact for training in the matters of cycling and traffic laws. Her name is Megan Hottman; she is a lawyer that helps educate everyone on the laws of Colorado. She has done many classes all over the state for law enforcement and the cycling community. If you are interested I can put you in contact with her. Thank you again.”

 A couple of weeks later, I received another email confirming that the fire department had in fact updated their training for the entire department and would be sharing this training with other towns.

“Here is the ‘Lessons Learned’ that was made from your incident. It has been made required training for all crews on our department and was reviewed by all the command staff.”

The following is an excerpt from ‘Lessons Learned’:

Background: In June, a fire truck was responding non-emergent to a commercial fire alarm in a neighboring district. While proceeding northbound on Main, fire truck passed a bicyclist as both were approaching a T intersection. Fire truck Engineer determined that, at the current speed, he could safely pass the bicyclist, and proceeded to do so. The pass and lane change were made into the right turn lane. Upon review of the video provided from the cyclist perspective, it appears that clearance was closer than intended.

Generic Corrective Actions:

1. A general review of the Colorado state laws regarding passing of a cyclist.

§ 42-4-1003. Overtaking a vehicle on the left

1. The following rules shall govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction, subject to the limitations, exceptions, and special rules stated in this section and sections 42-4-1004 to 42-4- 1008:

a. The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left of the vehicle at a safe distance and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle

b. The driver of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicyclist proceeding in the same direction shall allow the bicyclist at least a three-foot separation between the right side of the driver's vehicle, including all mirrors or other projections, and the left side of the bicyclist at all times.

c. Except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted, the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle on audible signal and shall not increase the speed of the driver's vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.

2. Be diligent in making sure that the perspective and safety of the cyclist is given a greater regard.

·      Always be aware of the size of, and space needed for the engine to maneuver.

·      Be sure to maintain constant Situational Awareness (SA) while driving apparatus and avoid becoming complacent about driving responsibilities due to mental focus on the incident the apparatus has been dispatched to.

·      If there is any question as to the safety of a pass, yield to the cyclist, and do not pass.

Note: The name and city of the fire department in this incident have been omitted at their request as well as any public sharing of the video.

#10000milesin2018: Month 8 update

#10000milesin2018: Month Eight Update!

Total Miles to Date: Target: 6664 miles…My mileage: 6498

Total Number of Strava Group Members: 382

Here’s an update from team member MeisterBruno in St. Augustine, FL who looks to be right on track to ride 10,000 miles in 2018:

Halfway done. Less than 4K to go.

I finished 6K+ miles early on August 3rd and now going towards what could be a 10K year. We’ll see about that. As of today August 27th, 2018 I am at 6,892. The last four months I managed to get an average of 1K miles per month. My strategy is to ride 12 hours a week. It can be an hour or so a day with some long rides on the weekends or about 30 miles a day. I also do a twofer every Tuesday that helps boost miles towards the goal. 

Races I participated in:

Gravel Worlds (150 miles of Gravel on the SingleSpeed in Lincoln, NE), FoCo Fondo, And Golden Gran Fondo. 

Challenges:  The same 200 miles I've been behind on my goal almost all summer still need to be made up and getting those in is proving hard to    do! 

Highlights: I had a great time at Gravel Worlds and also enjoyed a "Tour de     Lincoln" bike ride on the bike paths there the day before my race. 

I also figured out how to sync the Cycleops Phantom 3 spin bike that sits next to my desk at the office, to Zwift, so that I can be pedaling and accumulating miles while I am on the phone and on video calls, etc...  BONUS!

THIS MONTH’S QUESTION: With summer coming to an end and the weather changing, how are you planning on hitting your goal of 10,000 miles if you aren’t able to ride outdoors?

The Fall is my FAVORITE time to ride in Colorado - I love weekend rides this time of year ... changing leaves, most tourist traffic has left the state, and there is a great correlation between weekend football games on TV and an absence of traffic during those times!     No question though, as temps drop, I will be returning to the indoors and ZWIFT very soon.... but for now, I remain focused on using my bike for every possible commute and errand, while working hard to minimize car time- not just for this goal, but also because my back and body overall feel wrecked when I spend too much time in the car.

Riding is hands-down best for me - both mentally AND physically! 

The Cycling Community Can Move Mountains!

A Positive Blog Post - By Maureen 

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The Cycling Community Can Move Mountains!

Bike advocacy is everyone’s job, and sometimes it takes a village to move a mountain. Our incredible cycling community came together to support a fellow cyclist involved in a close call with a driver. The community pushed for change to make the roads safer for everyone and got results!

Here’s what happened.

What was supposed to be a fun group training ride turned into a frightening experience that left cyclists demanding action.

Helen Gardner, Manager of Big Ring Cycles, was training for a charity ride in Golden, CO this past July when a vehicle came within inches of the group of cyclists, which included a child on a tandem bike with her father and a disabled man in a trailer being pulled by Helen.

The group was riding single file on a two-lane road with Helen second in line. There was an oncoming car approaching in the opposite lane. Helen heard some of the cyclists behind her calling out to a driver who had just passed them.

As Helen passed through an intersection, she looked over to her left and saw a vehicle directly next to her, a vehicle being driven by a student driver. It was just about four inches from her. The vehicle was so close that Helen could have reached into the window and easily touched the driving instructor in the passenger seat.

The teenage driver looked terrified and was white knuckling the steering wheel.

Helen raised her hand to the instructor, pointed behind her at the trailer and said “This is not how this works!” At that point, the driving instructor started banging on the window and yelling at Helen.

“I was speechless. I couldn’t believe that just happened,” said Helen. “Was that really a driver’s ed teacher who yelled at me through his window with somebody else’s child in the car?”

As soon as the oncoming car in the opposite lane drove by, the student driver sped up and pulled away.

One of the cyclists in Helen’s group followed the car to get the vehicle information and take a picture of the license plate. Luckily, no one was injured, just a little shaken.

What should the driver have done? Waited…waited behind the cyclists until the oncoming car had passed. Then, the driver could have passed the cyclists safely giving them the required three-foot separation according to Colorado law. See C.R.S. 42-4-1003 (1) (b) for more information.

If a driver drives his or her vehicle unnecessarily close to, toward, or near a bicyclist, he/she is committing careless driving, which is a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense.

The day after the incident, some of the cyclists on the ride posted about the incident on social media and contacted the driving school. When Helen contacted our office to discuss her options, our advice was to call the Jeffco Sheriff’s Department to report the incident.

Helen did just that and was told that if she filed a complaint, the driver would be issued a ticket. Helen felt bad for the student driver and didn’t feel it was his fault.

The sheriff’s department told her that another course of action would be to use social media to voice her concern, so she posted an account of what had happened on Facebook. Helen wanted to address the incident and make sure that it wouldn’t happen again. It didn’t sit well with her knowing that students were being taught that it’s OK to buzz by a group of cyclists.

“My next concern became this guy who is out in public teaching future drivers, teaching young people to drive. He clearly does not know the laws. He clearly doesn’t know the rules of the road, especially when it comes to keeping cyclists and his drivers safe,” Helen said.

The cycling community took to social media. Her story was shared over and over by the cycling community, she received support and encouragement, and many people took the time to review the driving school following her post. “The cycling community here was really impressive,” said Helen.

She eventually contacted Ben Pyatt, owner of the Arvada Driving School, by email and expressed her concern. She wanted him to know that a slap on the wrist was not sufficient.

Ben emailed her back the next day. He acknowledged that he was aware of the incident, apologized to her and was very sorry that it had happened. He informed her that the driving instructor had resigned his position after being with the school for over 14 years.

“We do take our business seriously, and learning to share the road with cyclists is a very important part of what we teach our students.   My oldest son is a professor at Regis University and rides to work 2 -3 times per week from Arvada to Regis University.  He often shares the negative interactions that he has with some motorists. His safety while cycling is always on my mind,” said Ben.

Overall, Helen was happy with the result and felt like the situation had been resolved. “I really just wanted an acknowledgement of what happened and I wanted an action for what happened. I felt relieved and like a resolution had been made.”

Our office contacted Ben and offered to provide a safe cycling/driving class to the driving instructors.

“We had Megan give her presentation on cyclists’ rights to reinforce how to expect to interact with cyclists as a refresher to our instructors. All of our instructors said that it was very worthwhile, ‘time well spent’.  Megan did a great job,” said Ben.

He also donated $900.00 to support Helen’s upcoming charity ride which supports inclusion for athletes with disabilities. Find out more about Helen and Noah's Big Adventure ride.

“Megan is one of those people that you love to know, love to have a connection with and hope that you never have to use as a cyclist,” said Helen. “I was so thankful for her guidance and support and her gentleness for handling the situation but for also taking the time to go and to educate these people on my behalf using her own time. I am forever grateful because I think we made a difference and I am happy about that.” 

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#10000milesin2018: Month 7 Update

Total Number of Strava Group Members: Our group has grown from 251 members in January to now 388 members in July.

Here’s how some of our group members are doing as of the end of June:

John O’Neill in Allentown, Pennsylvania - 7,743 miles

Bart De Lepeleer in Guía de Isora, Canarias, Spain - 5,884 miles / 675,335 ft

Daniel Sattel in Golden, Colorado – 5,050 miles / 605,702 ft

Meister Bruno in St. Augustine, Florida – 5,300 miles

Challenges: None, really. This is the best time of the year for riding! 

Highlights:  I only drove my car 5 days this month.  This was a new record for me and it was amazing to live life by bike during July! This month also included a really big week over the 4th of July holiday, with monster rides from my front door to places all over the front range (Like Lyons, Ward, Georgetown, to name a few!).  

THIS MONTH’S QUESTION: What advice do you have for someone considering riding 10,000 miles next year? What kind of preparation is needed? What kind of training can be done in advance?

I don't know that training is necessary so much as scheduling preparation (and prioritization).  Trips, errands, meetings, board meetings, extra-curricular events, shopping, socializing, and so on- all must be planned with riding there and back in mind.  The more a person can work the bike into their day-to-day schedule and life, the less pressure there is to fit in really big weekend rides.  I personally prefer to sprinkle the miles out during the week than to have to cram them in on the weekends.  This challenge has expanded my already-commute-focused lifestyle even more! 

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Total Miles to Date: Target:

5831 miles…

My mileage: 5630

Is Lane Splitting Unlawful?

Is Lane Splitting Unlawful?

By Maureen & Megan

No matter who you ask, it’s a controversial practice! Motorcyclists say it’s safer than sitting in traffic and eases traffic congestion. Cyclists maintain that it gets them ahead of traffic at intersections so they can be more visible to cars. Motorists argue that it’s dangerous and risky.

Lane splitting, also referred to as stripe riding or white lining, is the practice of riding a bicycle, motorcycle or any other two-wheeled vehicle between rows of slow-moving traffic driving in the same direction. Lane filtering refers to riding between lanes going in the same direction in stopped traffic. 

California is currently the only state that allows motorcycle lane splitting. 

So, what does this mean for cyclists? We received the following inquiry from a cyclist about lane splitting/filtering:

‘Is any part of the CO Law applicable to lane filtering or splitting? 

For example, is it legal for a cyclist to ride between stopped traffic in their lane and parked cars on the right or to ride between two lanes of stopped traffic?”

There is no statute in Colorado that specifically prohibits cyclists from lane splitting or lane filtering; however, the conclusion has always been that since it’s not legal for motorcyclists, cyclists should not do it either.

Furthermore, a cyclist has the same rights and duties as the driver of any other vehicle, so they should follow the same rules when it comes to overtaking and passing another vehicle on the left or right.

"The law says you cannot overtake a vehicle traveling in the same lane and direction, with certain exceptions.  Lane splitting has two major concerns.  #1) as cyclists, the law requires you be given 3-feet when being passed.  Should it not be the same for a cyclist passing a motor vehicle?  #2) we already have a problem in Colorado with motorists not expecting cyclists to be where they have the right to be (think right-hook turns). The concern is if lane splitting is permitted, how many accidents and incidents of road rage will we have until the motoring public comes to terms with this mentally and in their driving behavior?" says Frank Barr, Police Officer for the City of Golden.  

Chances are, if a cyclist chooses to pass between lanes of cars, or pass up the right side (where there is no bike lane), if a collision occurred- for example, if a car in the right lane suddenly decided to make a right turn having no idea a cyclist has pulled up alongside them, the cyclist will be found at fault, or half-at-fault.  Anytime a cyclist does something to deprive themselves of the 3-foot buffer- like pulling alongside the right side of stopped cars, between the car and a curb, if a collision occurs, the cyclist is going to share some blame.  

Consider the following scenarios that could cause a cyclist serious injury or death if lane splitting or filtering forward:

  • Cyclist is riding between two lanes of moving traffic when a motorist switches lanes unexpectedly and crashes into the cyclist
  • Cyclist gets doored when riding between traffic lanes when a passenger opens car door to exit vehicle
  • Cyclist stops on the passenger side of the vehicle in the driver’s blind spot and is right-hooked by a turning vehicle at an intersection after filtering forward

When approaching an intersection, it is recommended that a cyclist takes the lane instead of lane splitting or filtering forward. League Certified Instructor Gary Harty prefers to take the lane and wait his turn at stop lights especially if there are only two or three cars ahead of him. “I don’t like to go ahead of the first car because I may not be visible and would be setting myself up for being right hooked,” he says. 

Harty prefers to control his lane when turning left. If he is going straight, he will position himself next to the white line, either left or right of the line, the side with the least amount of traffic. “I understand both sides are legal and defend against right hooks. If traffic is slow I would like to control the thru lane.”

Cutting through traffic with rows of cars on both sides doesn’t give a cyclist adequate space either, especially considering that motorists have to give cyclists three-feet when passing. 

  Denver has 130 miles of bike lanes

Denver has 130 miles of bike lanes

“In a perfect world, you would have a minimum of four feet between you and parked cars on your right to prevent being doored and another three feet on your left between you and the projections of the moving vehicles on your left.  If you give yourself three feet in which you occupy space, this is a total of ten feet minimum between parked cars and the moving traffic lane.  I can’t think of any place in this area where that space exists.  Our bicycle infrastructure has not reached that level yet. Therefore, if a cyclist is going to ride into that space that is much less than ten feet, there is a great deal of risk involved and potentially a conflict with CRS that states you should pass slower vehicles on the left,” says Harty.

As bicycling becomes more of an accepted form of transportation across the country, cities are working to make improvements to bicycling infrastructure. According to its website , the City of Denver has:

  • more than 100 miles of multi-use trails.
  • 130 miles of bike lanes.
  • 39 miles of sharrows, and almost 400 miles of signed bike routes. 

Denver’s Bicycle Program is improving on-street facilities and creating connections between Denver's neighborhoods and destinations. Bicycle traffic signals, green pavement marking, designated bike lanes, bikeways, buffered lanes and green bike boxes are being installed around the city.

  Green pavement markings in Denver notifying motorists of the presence of bicyclists

Green pavement markings in Denver notifying motorists of the presence of bicyclists

Bike boxes and bike lanes make it possible for cyclists to avoid lane splitting/filtering to get ahead of vehicles at intersections. Cyclists position themselves ahead of cars in the bike box and have priority to move into the intersection when the light turns green. Motorists must wait behind the green bike box at the white stop line. This gives cyclists priority to move through the intersection.

  Bike box at 11  th   and Speer in Denver

Bike box at 11th and Speer in Denver

People for Bikes has been working hard to add these green lanes and boxes with their “green lane” projects- which provide funding to cities to make it possible for the addition of this infrastructure.  These lanes and the bright green paint make it much safer for cyclists and allow them to move to the front of an intersection legally.  (Read more here: https://peopleforbikes.org/green-lane-project/).

 

Expanding and improving bicycling infrastructure to make bicycling more accessible and safe will take time. In the meantime, use caution when you are cycling and don’t put yourself in a situation where splitting the lane or filtering forward could result in injury.

#10000milesin2018: Month 6 Update

Total Miles to Date: Target: 5000 miles (halfway point!). . . My mileage: 4,899 (slightly behind).

Total Number of Strava Group Members: 356

Rides/Races I participated in:

Dirty Kanza

Denver Century Ride

Haute Route Rockies (Stages 1 (Boulder) and 7 (Pikes Peak))

#LookoutWeek

Challenges: honestly, none this month!  Riding is going really well right now! 

Highlights:  Now that it is fully summer here, I was able to restrict my driving substantially.  I only drove my car 9 days this month (and ironically, half of those days were for bike events like the DCR, HR stages 1 and 7, and BTWD!).  

THIS MONTH’S QUESTION:  What changes have you noticed both physically and mentally six months in to riding 10,000 miles?

I am becoming car-resistant, almost to a fault...  Getting in the car to drive somewhere is such a negative for me right now that I am really picky about what commitments I make and whether I can get there by bike or not.  I guess you'd say after 6 focused months of using the bike as much as possible to get the mileage in, I'm even more bike-obsessed than I was before this challenge began !  

PS - Here's a fun piece of footage from my Cycliq Camera with Strava data overlaid, for my ride through Garden of the Gods after we came down from Pikes Peak.