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.

 

Marieke & Megan Tackle Dirty Kanza!

Dirty Kanza 2018

MARIEKE'S RECAP: 

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Welcome to the Flint Hills!

What makes someone ride 200 miles on dirt roads in the tire chewing Flint Hills of eastern Kansas? I actually don’t know, but it is rewarding! Soon after I got my Niner RLT gravel bike in the Spring of 2015, I learned about the Dirty Kanza and could not let go of the thought of one day riding this race. It seemed like an intriguing challenge to be skilled and strong enough to manage the dirt terrain and able to deal with mechanical issues and weather changes during the race. I rode a few local gravel grinders to test things out and I only got more and more determined and my rides got gradually longer. The cool thing about gravel grinding is that it expands your horizons. I explored so many new roads and new places, even though I have lived in the same area for about 20 years it has opened a whole new world. 2017 was my first year and things went very well. The conditions were optimal then and course records were set. Of course, I had to sign up again.

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My trusted bike, patiently waiting in the rain before the start of the DK200

This year I was nervous to get in the lottery, but I made it in. After a stressful start of 2018 when I picked up the flu, lost my job for a while, and dug myself a deep physical and mental hole, I could barely even ride my bike. I did get help and had a training schedule made that very gradually built up. I was impatient and only slowly started to feel better on and also off my bike. Training for the Kanza does take a lot of time: in the weekends towards race day I would usually ride both days for many hours and did shorter rides during the week. Sorry to everyone in my life whom I neglected. Riding in the Flint Hills sometimes feels like an interval training with short calf-biting climbs out of the plenty river crossings, many rollers, and a few real hills that are all longer than you think. Yes, better prepare for it as Kansas is not flat!

  Running down 6 flights of stairs before the start as the elevators backed up in the dorms was a good warmup before we learned the start was delayed by 30 minutes (Photo: Francien Dechesne).

Running down 6 flights of stairs before the start as the elevators backed up in the dorms was a good warmup before we learned the start was delayed by 30 minutes (Photo: Francien Dechesne).

  Seeking shelter before the start (Photo: Francien Dechesne).

Seeking shelter before the start (Photo: Francien Dechesne).

Predictions for the race this year were hot, windy, but no rain. What do you know. We got up and a big thunderstorm was nearing Emporia. The radar looked ominous. While pedaling to the start at 5:30am it started to rain and the winds were howling. I found some shelter with many other riders under a garage-type structure near the start line when the real storm hit with lightning and more rain. The start was now postponed by half an hour. Miraculously everything dried up by 6:30 and only the roads were a bit muddy for the first part of the ride, although nothing too bad. There was an unannounced detour around the mud massacre stretch of two years ago, which caused some confusion for all who were riding on their GPS, like myself. I stopped, but turning around in the massive stream of riders coming behind me was obviously not an option, and on we went…

  Counting down at the start (Photo: Francien Dechesne).

Counting down at the start (Photo: Francien Dechesne).

My sister, Francien, was my crew and mechanic this year and since she rode the Kanza last year she knew exactly what her job was: lube my chain, check tires, change out camel bags and hand me food. Oh, and point me to the bathroom, which is not always obvious. She was great and I was very happy to see her in Madison and every stop after.

The second leg flew by with some tailwinds here and there and was good for the spirits. I enjoyed the waiving grasses and felt like I was flying at times. Maybe I felt a little too good in hindsight, I was only halfway in Eureka.

When we turned into the strong northern headwinds at about mile 110 between stop 2 and 3 it did not take long before I burned through my diminishing reserves in my legs quickly and tiredness crept in. I tried to trade of pulls in the wind with some other riders but these groups never lasted for too long. Nearing Madison I was often alone. The optimism from before Eureka had faded. I now had started to worry about beating the Sun and reverted to the thought that just finishing would be good enough, avoiding truly bonking with everything I could.

  Disillusioned riders waiting for a parked train blocking the course, while the sun set! After 50 minutes of waiting a detour was authorized to get around it.

Disillusioned riders waiting for a parked train blocking the course, while the sun set! After 50 minutes of waiting a detour was authorized to get around it.

In Madison, Francien told me that I still had a chance to make the sun cutoff and on we went. I found a little group to battle the still strong headwinds and we traded places for a long time. However, just a few miles after the Salsa Chaise it was clear that there were a bunch of people gathered at the train crossing. We slowed down and learned that some of them been there for 20 minutes already waiting for a parked train at mile 199 of the race. Oh oh….  And in the distance the sun set. Disillusioned riders were scattered all over now and the pack was growing. Another train passed, but no movement on the parked train. Finally, a car arrived to inform us that a 3.5-mile detour had been authorized to the finish. A bit confused we all started riding. The energy in the peloton was jittery. Enough wheels to grab for the last 8 + detour miles and there was not much thinking. We just went fast in the dark, still trying to beat the Sun (which had long set) straight through unannounced potholes, up the last hill and then the finish was there. I was blinded by all the lights, overwhelmed by all the cheering people and just so happy. I did it, I had finished again! I will just have to come back next year to take revenge on that train.

   Overwhelming happiness at the finish after battling headwinds and trains (Photo: Francien Dechesne).

 Overwhelming happiness at the finish after battling headwinds and trains (Photo: Francien Dechesne).

  We did it! (Photo: Francien Dechesne).

We did it! (Photo: Francien Dechesne).

I found my sister, a happy reunion, and we waited for Bike Ambassador teammate Megan who was riding single speed, a heroic accomplishment in these winds.

The best thing about the Kanza is that the entire town of Emporia goes all out for biking. It gets flooded with cyclists from all over the world and people are very welcoming. The feel of that entire community is the most amazing part of the Kanza experience and it is so great to be part of that! I am also proud to be one of the 200 women on the 200 miles.

 

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MEGAN'S RECAP 

-Why you decided to participate in DK: After the DK100 in 2015 (the "mud year"), and a failed attempt in 2016 (bailed at mile 165), and being too injured in 2017 to race, I had some serious unfinished business this year!  Not only that though, this event is magical.  Jim and LeLan have done an amazing job with this event, as has the town of Emporia.  You've never seen anything like it.  I couldn't wait to get back -to see friends from KS and MO and NE that I don't get to see often, and to take another stab at finishing my first DK200.  

-What kind of bike you rode: I went all in and dropped all the gears but one. That's right- I went singlespeed.  I figured it was the best way to force myself to slow down and focus on the finish first, and the race second.  The one gear forces me to put one foot in front of the other, to coast quite often, and to sit up and look around.  It was everything I hoped for, and more.  

How you prepared for the race - tips and advice to share with people considering doing the race next year: I did lots of miles this spring (overall targeting the 10,000 miles this year helps!), and the AZ Gravel Chino Grinder 105 mile gravel race back in early May.  That was perfect tune-up.  I also did the math on number of calories I needed to each (approx 100-150/hour), how many bottles of fluid I needed to be successful (about 1/hour, or around 18-19 for the day), and mentally, things I could think about and focus on during the really awful solo, headwind stretches (I literally called my therapist on the drive to DK and we talked about "homework" I could work on in my head during the race.  And it totally worked).

Highlights and challenges during the race: Highlights- talking to other riders, meeting new people, riding next to a guy on a FIXIE! (yes!), seeing the cows, flint hills, thanking my lucky stars I didn't have any flat tires or mechanicals... seeing the sun set out there, riding in the dark with a few other riders, all with our headlights on, over the crunchy gravel ... 

Lowlights: the thunderstorm that rolled through that morning delaying the start made me nervous about the conditions (they were fine) and I was thankful we weren't riding off into the thunderstorm.  And -miles 105-165 - all into a strong steep headwind -road rarely changing, just gutting it out with some low moments...  

Your impressions/thoughts before, during and after the race: everything I'd hoped it would be and more.  We began with a sponsors VIP event Thursday night, Friday morning I set up our tent in the expo and embarked on the group shake-out ride, made my way back to the expo, then cleaned up and helped co-moderate the women's panel, back to the expo, we packed up, I rested up and then it was race morning! 

Any message that you would like to share to inspire/motivate people to participate next year: Add this to your race list, your bucket list, your life list. This is a truly special event -one you must experience to understand.  Whether you do the DK100 or DK200 (or 350 XL!) you must must must race this event at least once.  You've got till 3am to finish.  And you'll learn so much about yourself out there.  

 

#10000milesin2018: Month Five Update!

Total Miles to Date: Target: 4166 miles. . . My mileage: 4204  (WOOHOO!!)

Goal by end of June/halfway through 2018 = 5,000!

Total Number of Strava Group Members: 295

This month we would like to feature Tom A. from Longmont, CO, one of the #10kin2018 members. I ran into Tom, a former client, and his wife while out on a ride over the weekend.

Current Mileage: 4,202

How long have you been a cyclist?

I have enjoyed cycling in one form or another most of my life.  My wife, Nanette, and I started using cycling for fitness about 10 years ago.  At the urging of friends, I purchased a modern road bike in 2012. 

The road bikes have opened up so many new opportunities to ride and meet new people.

How did you find out about the challenge?

Megan_Nanette_Tom.jpg

I believe I first heard about Megan's 10,000 mile challenge from her Twitter feed.  It sounded crazy. I hesitated, but then decided I would go for it in order to get in shape for summer.

Good weather and good health this spring allowed me to get a good jumpstart on the goal.

Why did you decide to join the challenge?

The Strava 10K mile in 2018 challenge came at a good time for me.  It provided additional incentive to get our there and get in shape for the Ride the Rockies this June. 

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

Nanette and I have worked the bike rides into our daily lives.  We ride for short errands, shopping and to meet ups with our daughters & grandsons. 

I end up with a lot of short mileage rides.  I commute to work when the roads are dry. I take a lunch ride with friends whenever I can.

What are the benefits to riding your bike/joining the challenge?

I find starting the day with a bike ride to work kick starts my brain activity! I really miss it when I am unable to get my morning ride.

Colorado's New Stop-As-Yield Legislation

By Megan & Maureen: 

SB18-144

Bicycle Operation Approaching Intersection

Concerning the regulation of bicycles approaching intersections.

On May 3, 2018, Colorado Governor Hickenlooper signed into law SB144, or what’s commonly referred to as the Idaho stop, also known as a safety or rolling stop or “stop as yield.” In effect in Idaho since 1982, the law allows cyclists to treat a stop sign like a yield sign and a red light like a stop sign. In 2017, Delaware adopted a limited stop as yield law.

Interestingly, the new Colorado law isn’t actually a state law – it’s recommended language, which each individual city or county may now adopt at its option.

C.R.S § 42-4-1412.5 provides a statewide standard on the regulation of bicycles approaching intersections which local governments can choose to implement:  Idaho stops were already legal in Aspen, Breckenridge and Dillon, as well as Summit County, prior to the passage of this new law.

(1) At intersections with stop signs, a cyclist should slow “to a reasonable speed and yield the right-of-way to any traffic or pedestrian in or approaching the intersection.” The cyclist may then turn or go through the intersection without stopping.

A reasonable speed is considered 15 mph or less. Local governments may reduce or increase the reasonable speed but will be required to post signs at intersections stating the lower or higher speed limitations.

(2) At red traffic lights, cyclists are required to completely stop and yield to traffic and pedestrians. Once the cyclist has yielded, they may “cautiously proceed in the same direction through the intersection or make a right-hand turn. A cyclist may not go through the intersection at a red light if an oncoming vehicle is turning or preparing to turn left in front of the person.”

The law further states that a cyclist may only make a left-hand turn at a red traffic light if turning onto a one-way street. The cyclist must stop and then yield to traffic and pedestrians before turning left. NOTE: It is not legal for a cyclist to make a left-hand turn onto a two-lane road (one lane in each direction) at an intersection with a red traffic light.

This law does not give cyclists the right to blow through intersections: they still have to yield. 

Megan Hottman (@cyclist_lawyer) on Instagram: "Round 2 filming bike safety/motorist awareness #PSA videos today with the #bikeambassadors and..."

(Example see video at right: our friend Katie running a stop sign (part of a cycling video series the City of Golden is making-don't worry, this was a controlled intersection!)

At all other times, cyclists must comply with the rules set forth in CRS §42-4-1412 and 42-4-221 regarding the operation of bicycles and other human-powered vehicles.

The main argument for the Idaho stop appears to be that it increases safety for cyclists.  Senator Andy Kerr, who authored Senate Bill 18-144, is a cyclist himself. He maintains that the most dangerous time for a cyclist is when they are stopped at an intersection.  Colorado’s local bicycle advocacy group, Bicycle Colorado, was also strongly in favor of this new rule and was actively involved in its passage.

If a cyclist is not waiting at an intersection, they are less likely to be hit by a car. The faster they can get through the intersection and out of the way of motorists, the better. Additionally, when a cyclist can proceed through an intersection and get out in front of traffic, there is less chance of getting hit by a vehicle making a right-hand turn.

A study by Jason Meggs titled ‘Bicycle Safety and Choice: Compounded Public Cobenefits of the Idaho Law Relaxing Stop Requirements for Cycling’ found that a year after the Idaho stop law was implemented, cyclist injuries declined by 14.5 percent in Idaho. Meggs further stated that there is no evidence that fatalities increased as a result of the adoption of the law in Idaho.

“I'm an ‘Idaho Stopper’ who approves this change in traffic laws that favors cyclists. As a threatened road user group, cyclists need the added protection of bike-specific laws that promote safer cycling like the Idaho stop and 3-foot passing.” (Richard H.)

Another argument in favor of the law is that it legalizes what most people already do. A study by DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development found that only about 1 in 25 cyclists come to a complete stop at stop signs. Two out of three cyclists go through red lights when there's no cross traffic. (See also- CU Study).

The most prevalent response as to why cyclists break the rules of the road was “personal safety,” with more than 71 percent of respondents citing that as a reason. Saving energy came in second for bicyclists (56 percent) followed by saving time (50 percent). Increasing one’s visibility was the fourth-most-cited response (47 percent) for bicyclists breaking the law. The authors noted that an overwhelming majority of bicyclists break the rules, but suggested they did so in situations where little harm would come to themselves or others.
— Aaron Johnson, a PhD student in sociology at CU Boulder : https://www.colorado.edu/asmagazine/2017/08/04/biking-bad

It has also been argued that it takes significant energy for a cyclist to start again after having to stop at stop signs/traffic signals.  The DePaul study suggests that “when cyclists sense there are no immediate safety risks, their desire to maintain forward momentum and conserve energy almost always exceeds their desire to strictly adhere to traffic laws.”

We solicited comments and feedback via our Facebook page and share below, some of the varying thoughts we received:

“I think it's a good thing for cyclists, codifying what a lot of people, frankly, were doing anyway. It doesn't absolve cyclists of a responsibility to ride safely, but just acknowledges the realities of bike riding.” (Brandon R.)

The new law could also improve the flow of traffic and reduce congestion by getting cyclists and motorists through intersections more quickly.

Another argument: traffic signs and signals were not created with cyclists in mind. Cyclists often have to wait at traffic lights until a motor vehicle triggers a sensor to change the light: 

“I approve of this, especially the red stop light law. So many times I come across stupid stop lights that won't change unless they detect a car. This will allow cyclists to proceed without fear of a ticket.” (Kerry N.)

Not everyone is in favor of the new law. Opponents argue that bicyclists should follow the same rules as motorists. They further maintain that bicyclist behavior will be even more unpredictable and dangerous:

“All users of the road have to abide by the same set of rules. Confusion will abound and accidents will occur.” (TJ R.)

Many worry that the new law should be implemented statewide and will lead to confusion for both drivers and cyclists since counties and municipalities can decide whether to adopt the law:

“The opt-in aspect is disappointing and will create significant confusion for motorists, cyclists, and law-enforcement. Imagine if Denver opts-in but Lakewood does not. So east of Sheridan you can use the Idaho stop, but west of Sheridan doing so will get you a ticket. Someone driving through Lakewood who sees a cyclist getting a ticket for rolling a stop sign will assume that behavior is not permitted anywhere. So when a cyclist does it in front of them in Denver, they're going to get angry and annoyed at the cyclist for (incorrectly) believing the cyclist is breaking the law. While I understand the need to add that piece in order to make the legislation palatable for the state legislature to pass it, the inability to have a uniform law that would improve cyclist safety is disappointing.” (Kathryn W.)

Some suggest that the law may create even more tension between motorists and cyclists:

“As a cyclist, I think it makes a lot of sense, but motorists aren't likely to see it that way. So, if widely used, I think it is going to inflame the notion that cyclists are an elite group who believe ‘the rules don't apply to them’ (because many motorists will be either unaware of the change or just dislike it). I also think you are safest on a bike on the road when you do predictable things - meaning that you act like a car. When you move in between being-like-a-car and following some pattern that drivers aren't used to, that is when people make mistakes because something happens they weren't expecting.” (Greg M.)

IMG_2695.jpg

We ran an informal poll of Golden-area cyclists to ask them if they were in favor of this rule, or opposed to it.  While some who live out of city limits did accidentally vote, the overwhelming majority voted in favor.

 

 

 

 

 

Moving forward, the challenge will now be to educate motorists, cyclists and law enforcement about the new law – if, and when, cities and counties decide to adopt it.  As of now, cyclists must still stop at stop signs and red lights until this language is adopted in their jurisdictions. And of course a cyclist always has the option to remain stopped at the red light until it turns green.  

We'd love your feedback/comments- what do you think about your local city or county adopting this legislation?  If you have a strong opinion, we recommend you let your local city council members know -chances are, they are debating this very issue right now! 

Police Unity Tour- recap in photos

What a week, riding bikes alongside our Colorado (and nation's) law enforcement officers!  It was a WONDERFUL way to celebrate my birthday, but more importantly, to honor those who've made the ultimate sacrifice.  I cannot say enough about how positive this experience was! 

#10000milesin2018: Month four

#10000milesin2018: Month Four Update!

Total Miles to Date: Target: 3288 miles. Current mileage: 3122. 

How is your mileage goal coming along so far?

Here’s how some of our 10,000 Miles in 2018 members are doing:

-Phil I. (Sutton Coldfield, England): Currently slightly behind, just over 2,500 miles ridden; however, mileage will start to increase now, as weather (hopefully) improves & ‘Chase the Sun’ training kicks up several levels...

-Carl A. (Wilmington, North Carolina): Ahead of schedule by 872 miles

-Marcus C. (Aurora, Colorado): 5 miles ahead of schedule

Total Number of Strava Group Members: 290


Challenges: I am happy to say that April was a pretty smooth month overall.  The weather is improving and I am getting better at fitting in the 27 mile/day average with my training schedule as I start to ramp up towards some races.  

One ride was particularly frustrating - about a week ago I set out for a nice long Sunday solo ride-  the sun was out, I had an open day and the wind for once was not howling like crazy.  About the time I was as far away from my house as I could possibly be, I clipped out of my pedal at a stop light and felt my cleat break.  I continued on attempting to rest my shoe on my pedal, and tried to take a "short cut" through Chatfield to the closest bike shop that would likely sell the cleats.  Sadly, Chatfield is all torn up and I found myself facing a giant field of dirt where the road once was.  I had to reverse those miles back to a logical place (Waterton Canyon) where I realized I had no choice but to call an Uber to get home.  After 20 miles of resting the shoe on my Speedplay pedal I knew I wouldn't be able to do that another 30 miles home to Golden.  Calling an uber to get bailed out on a ride was a first! 

Another interesting "challenge" was finding a yelp review someone left about my law firm online.  It appeared to be from insurance defense counsel (i.e. opposing counsel in our cases).  The post made a point to criticize my #10000milesin2018 goal -actually suggesting readers find my group on Strava and shaming me for attempting such a goal ...  I found the commentary really interesting- apparently it is acceptable to spend 2 hours a day car commuting, but not 2 hours a day bike riding and commuting?  All that post did was fire me up even more to hit this goal! 

Highlights: April was also #30daysofbiking ! 

Last weekend I enjoyed 2 back-to-back sunny days of miles with a friend and we didn't have a single motorist issue, a single flat, or mechanical- nothing but those enjoyable, blissful miles in the sun.  Those make me so happy -they charge my battery for days and days.  

THIS MONTH’S QUESTION:  Is this goal easier or harder than expected?

I found it getting pretty tough in February and March but now I'm finding a groove and heading into summer and some events ahead, I am hoping I can enter the fall and winter with some banked miles to get me through the cold months ;) 

Take the Pledge: April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

By Maureen & Megan

Cyclist John Kirby was riding in the bike lane in Parker, Colorado in November 2017 when he was hit and killed by an alleged distracted driver.

  (A special thanks to our friend Russell, for posing for this photo.  Don't worry, the car is not in motion!). 

(A special thanks to our friend Russell, for posing for this photo.  Don't worry, the car is not in motion!). 

According to the arrest affidavit, the driver became distracted when she “looked down to push the off button on the vehicle’s stereo,” to turn off an incoming call. That’s when she veered into the bike lane hitting Kirby.

Any activity that could divert a driver’s attention away from the primary task of driving is distracted driving. This includes the use of cell phones and electronics and eating or drinking. If, while driving, you are entering information into your navigation system, changing radio stations or typing a text message, you are distracted.

It’s negligent, unsafe and puts others at risk, especially cyclists on roadways.

Not surprisingly, distracted driving is on the rise nationwide, especially with more people using cell phones. According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,477 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes due to distracted driving in 2015.

The Colorado Department of Transportation reports that:

  • Distracted drivers cause an average of 40 crashes every day in Colorado.
  • Sixty seven deaths in 2016 involved Colorado distracted drivers.

Our office has handled numerous cases where distractions involving a cell phone were either strongly suspected or were absolutely involved in causing the collision. 

One of Megan’s most common practices is to check social media for photos the at-fault driver has taken on their phone while in the car (has anyone else noticed this bizarre trend of taking selfies of oneself sitting in the driver’s seat with the seatbelt on?).  Megan has used these photos to argue that the driver frequently used, touched, messed with, and operated a phone while in the vehicle. 

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There is no question that juries punish this behavior with larger verdicts.  Interestingly though, there seems to be a trend where jurors, cyclists, society at large, “tsk-tsks” this behavior and yet, it seems so prolific that “everyone is doing it.”  Why do we shame others for the very conduct we ourselves do? 

One issue that seems to arise is the use of map apps or directions to get to a destination. 

There are two solutions to this that would remove the phone from a driver’s arm’s reach:  One, use the car’s built-in NAV system and don’t use the phone for directions.  Two, type the destination into the phone and set it to an audible turn-by-turn guidance format.  Then, stash the phone back in the backseat or trunk where you cannot reach it. 

Numerous studies and statistics show that once the phone is within eyesight of a driver or user, it is almost impossible to resist the urge to check it, touch it, use it ...  The phone is an addictive device for most users.  Therefore, to ensure you are never a distracted driver, it needs to be out of sight each time you operate your vehicle. 

Several laws in Colorado are aimed at distracted driving:

C.R.S. § 42-4-239 states:

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A person under eighteen years of age shall not use a wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle.
A person eighteen years of age or older shall not use a wireless telephone for the purpose of engaging in text messaging or other similar forms of manual data entry while operating a motor vehicle.

Forty seven states make text messaging illegal while driving.

C.R.S. § 42-4-1411 addresses the use of earphones:

 It is against the law to operate a motor vehicle while wearing earphones that include a headset, radio, tape player, or other similar device which provides the listener with music, radio, or recorded information and which covers all or a portion of the ears.

Do these laws do enough to protect cyclists?

In January and February 2018, bills aimed at decreasing distracted driving throughout Colorado and protecting vulnerable road users did not make it out of committee or were voted down during the Colorado legislative session.

Senate Bills 18-140 and 18-049 would have made careless driving a class 1 misdemeanor and increased the penalties imposed for distracted driving.

“Keep pushing car companies to produce technology that makes steering and texting at the same time impossible.”
— Tim Blumenthal, People For Bikes

What we can do to make the roads safer for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians:

  1. Take the pledge to drive free of distractions. Whether you do this online or privately, pledge to drive without texting, checking social media, changing the radio station, multi-tasking or any behavior that is going to take your eyes off the road.
  2. All cyclists, while operating their motor vehicles, should be distraction-free.  If we want to set the example and make roads safer for us when we are riding, then our call to action when we are motorists is to put those phones in the backseat or truck (as many in Canada do, given the harsh penalties there for even touching one’s phone). 
  3. Check out the National Safety Council pledge here or the “It Can Wait” campaign here if you want to make your pledge official.
  4. Advocate for laws that will impose tougher penalties for distracted driving. Speak up for laws that will make cycling safer and provide better infrastructure for cyclists.
  5. Get involved with a bike organization such as PeopleForBikes, whose aim is to make riding better for everyone. They represent all types of cyclists and work at city, state and national levels to improve bike infrastructure and provide support to bicycle advocacy groups on a local level.  Membership is free so SIGN UP! 
  6. Pull off to the side of the road if you need to make a call or just turn your cell phone off while driving.
  7. Be a role model. If you are a parent, put down your phone while driving when your kids are in the car. Don’t call or text your kids if they know you might be driving. Set a good example!
  8. If you are interested in your state’s distracted driving laws, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association has put together a state-by-state chart here

When Cyclists Get Doored

By Megan & Maureen

Cyclists riding beside parked motor vehicles, whether in bike lanes or on roadways, are at serious risk of being “doored.” Dooring collisions happen when a driver or passenger opens a car door directly into a bicyclist’s line of travel.

As most states legally require a cyclist to ride as far to the right as practicable or as judged safe by the bicyclist, this often puts them directly in harm’s way, because they are riding in the door zone: the space taken up by the open door of a vehicle.

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The bicyclist has no time to react and collides with the open car door. Sometimes, a cyclist may swerve into traffic to avoid running into a car door and, in the worst case, ends up being hit by an oncoming vehicle.

Dooring often occurs in urban, downtown areas where cars are parallel parked and where high levels of traffic and narrow lanes exist. Passengers getting out of taxi cabs, cars or ride-shares often open their doors without looking, which requires a bicyclist to be hyper-alert when riding in the door zone.

However, the law in every state instructs that a driver shall exercise caution when opening their door to exit their vehicle and shall check for overtaking traffic.  C.R.S. § 42-4-1207 - Opening and closing vehicle doors - states that “No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic; nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers. Any person who violates any provision of this section commits a class B traffic infraction.”

Forty states have dooring laws. The ten states that do not are: Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia

  Downtown Denver – Taxi Cab Blocking Bike Lane

Downtown Denver – Taxi Cab Blocking Bike Lane

While bike lanes are meant to make bicycling safer and to protect bicyclists from being involved in a motor vehicle collision, they do increase the chance of bicyclists being involved in a dooring crash.

Often, cars are illegally parked in bike lanes. Bicyclists are forced to navigate around the car or pay special attention to cars entering/leaving the lane. In some cases, the lane on the far right has been designated as both a bike lane as well as a parking lane.

Recently, we represented a client who lost a finger due to a dooring crash.  Our client was riding in the bike lane in Boulder.  The bike lane was positioned between car traffic lanes to her left and parked cars along the curb to her right.  She was smartly scanning the backs of car windows and checking side mirrors to look for any drivers in vehicles who might be exiting their vehicle.  As she approached a limo, she noted the windows were tinted.  She also saw what appeared to be the driver of the limo, leaning against the passenger side of the limo.  She dismissed the limo as a threat until suddenly without warning, the driver threw his door open to exit the vehicle.  Our client attempted to swerve to avoid the car door (knowing that she had overtaking vehicle traffic to her left) and as she did so, the ring on her right hand finger caught on the door handle of the limo. 

As her treatment evolved, she underwent numerous surgeries to try and lessen the nerve pain she was experiencing in her hand.  After all possible remedies were attempted, she had no choice but to have her middle finger amputated to stop the incessant and overwhelming pain in her hand. 

Of course, the insurance company for the driver attempted to paint this event as the cyclist’s fault – while acknowledging she was appropriately in the bike lane, and she was riding uphill at a slow pace, doing everything correctly, legally, and prudently -- they still tried to pin blame on her for somehow failing to avoid the opening door, or failing to steer around it.  Eventually, we obtained a very large settlement on her behalf, but it was only after lengthy litigation, at mediation which was a few months before trial.  Sadly, our client is now left permanently impaired by the loss of her finger, which impacted her ability to ride and race her bike, to swim (which was her lifelong sport and passion) and to compete in triathlon, which she loved.

We have heard other stories of drivers opening their door as a cyclist was riding by, causing the cyclist to crash into the inside of the driver door – one such story involved the cyclist being impaled by part of the handlebars because of the sudden and complete stop caused by impacting the non-moving/open car door. 

These types of collisions can be very serious and possibly deadly.  The real problem is that driver-side car doors are often RIGHT into or next to, the very bike lane built to protect cyclists! 

  Protected Bike Lane in Downtown Denver

Protected Bike Lane in Downtown Denver

Ed Beighe of azbikelaw.org - a site dedicated to cycling, traffic safety, traffic justice and legal topics - reports that a bike lane in Durham, New Hampshire was actually removed after the death of a cyclist due to a dooring collision. Read more here.

Now – cyclists should note that in most states, there is no legal requirement that they must ride in the bike lane simply because a bike lane is present.  It is recommended, but not mandatory.  This means that if the cyclist judges it unsafe to ride in the bike lane next to parked cars, the cyclist can move left out of the bike lane and take the traffic lane. 

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What should drivers and passengers do?

·      Look in the rearview and side mirrors before opening the car door slowly and with caution.

·      Open the vehicle door with the arm furthest from the door. This allows the body to turn and check for bicyclists over the shoulder before exiting the car. This is referred to as the “Dutch Reach.”

·      Open the door a little and look back up the road for bikes and other vehicles.

  Image courtesy of Bikeyface, www.bikeyface.com

Image courtesy of Bikeyface, www.bikeyface.com

#10000milesin2018: Month Three Update

Total Miles to Date: 2353 (Yes, doggone it, I'm still behind -but close to catching up!)

Total Number of Strava Group Members: 277 members – It’s not too late to join the group. We have had more people join in on the fun since our last update.

At the beginning of March, some of our members shared their mileage to date. Several had already reached 1,666 miles or were close to being on target:

*John O’Neill from Allenstown, Pennsylvania – 2,219 miles

*Bart De Lepeleer from Guía de Isora, Canarias, Spain – 1,932

Challenges: I tackled too many work/personal life projects all at once in March and found myself putting rides on the back burner (sounds like February?) as these projects would ramp up ...  There were a few days my back was really bothering me and I had to skip rides then as well.  

Highlights: I rode my bike to amazing performances, including: Yamato Drummers, Poncho Sanchez & His Latin Jazz Band, and a spring training game (Giants vs Cubs).  In addition I perfected my bike commute to get more dog food, to load up on groceries at Sprouts, and even to pick up a freshly-steamed suit jacket!  

March also featured several really big mileage group rides, where we enjoyed amazing views, roads, and experiences-  zero flats, zero issues with motorists, only 100% fun and great conversation too! 

THIS MONTH’S QUESTION:  How do you motivate yourself each month to meet your end goal of 10,000 miles?

When I set a goal I set it with the intention of seeing it through.  As frustrated as I have been at times to fall behind- so rapidly after just a few days off the bike - It fires me up even more to go out and tackle some big rides to catch back up!  This is not the kind of goal where you can leave it to the end of the year to try and play catch up -the months of November and December won't be the time to make up miles! So I am fired up now, this spring, to get on top of the miles and stay on track as summer approaches! 

Need an extra push for the month of April?  It's #30daysofbiking month -where the movement encourages participants to ride their bike every day -regardless of distance!  Give it a shot!