As far as motor vehicle and bike law is concerned, I feel like I am fairly educated. I have been driving for over 15 years, and not to brag, but I did not miss a single question on my driving exam. You could say I have not only got the book smarts, but I have also got years of experience to back up my claim. In addition to those unparalleled skills, I have also been cycling for several years. I can ride fairly close to the person next to me without too much flinching of my handlebars, I stop at all stop lights, and I have been on enough group rides to know how things should work.
Tuesday night the awesome people at UpaDowna and So Co Velo invited Megan to lead a presentation on bike law. I have been eager to attend one of Megan’s bike law sessions for quite some time, so I jumped at the offer to join her. My being there was partly out of curiosity, and I was also considering the marketing end of things. I thought, “I already know everything she will talk about, but I’ll take some photos, meet some neat people, and eat some food!” That fulfills the requirements for me to attend any event!
As Megan began her talk, I quickly realized that I was working for a lawyer specializing in bike law and I, her trusted employee, had a lot to learn. In my defense, I don’t think I ever knew that there were laws specifically for cyclists. Even if I realized that I did not know a particular law for cycling, I would not have known where to find them. Spending hours, days, weeks, months, and years doing research about bike law does not pump me up the same way that good food and meeting neat people do.
Did you know, cyclists are allowed to take the lane under certain circumstances? I truly had no idea. All this time living in Denver, hugging the right side, praying to not get doored by the parking lane on the far right, and also doing everything I can to be as thin as a pancake for cars when they attempt to pass me on a one-way downtown street. Legally, I did not have to do that. I could have saved so many frightening close calls just by knowing this one law. In fact, that particular instance has happened so often that my desire to commute by bike within the city has decreased to an embarrassingly non-existent level. From the motorist perspective, I also learned a lot. Mind, blown.
One statement in particular that struck a chord, was one that Megan made as she brought the session to a close: When someone buys a motorcycle, they do not just hit the open road and figure it out along the way. There are training and skills classes in addition to motorcycle specific laws taught before they can take their new ride to the open streets. We, as cyclists need to educate ourselves, practice our skills, and work with new cyclists and other motorists to teach them how to safely share the roads together.
I can see why Megan is so passionate about giving these talks to cyclists and motorists, and I hope everyone will attend one if they have the chance -it will make you a better rider and driver. We left with the COS Police Officer's quote as our mantra: "knowledge is power!"