Advocacy

The Latest on Distracted Driving

The Latest on Distracted Driving

Current Proposed Legislation, Penalties, & Apps to Limit Distracted Driving

By Maureen & Megan

The Wednesday Memorial from January 22, 2019

The Wednesday Memorial from January 22, 2019

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) reports that distracted drivers cause an average of 40 crashes each day in Colorado. In a survey conducted by CDOT in 2017, 89 percent of participants reported driving distracted in the seven days prior to completing the survey. Sixty-seven deaths in Colorado in 2016 involved distracted drivers. If that number does not seem high to you, think of it this way instead. Every day, family and friends of those 67 people who died are dealing with loss and grieving for a loved one.

Nationwide, 3,450 people lost their lives due to distracted driving in 2016. Earlier this month, Arizona police officer Clayton Townsend was struck and killed by a distracted driver during a traffic stop. The motorist, Jerry Sanstead, crossed two lanes of traffic before colliding with the pulled-over vehicle and then Officer Townsend. Standstead was booked on suspicion of manslaughter, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and endangerment. He is out on a $100,000 bond. The Maricopa County Attorney's Office will now have to decide what charges to file against him. Townsend, 26, leaves behind a wife and 10-month old child.

In Colorado, lawmakers are working to improve the safety of all road users, whether motorists, cyclists, or pedestrians. A bill aimed at further decreasing distracted driving in Colorado was recently introduced to the Senate on January 24, 2019. Senate Bill 19-012 - the hands-free distracted driving bill -  is now under consideration by the Senate Transportation & Energy Committee. (Click here to take action).

Photo Credit: Bob Carmichael - Courtesy of Cyclists 4 Community

Photo Credit: Bob Carmichael - Courtesy of Cyclists 4 Community

SB19-012 would prohibit drivers of ALL ages from using wireless telephones while driving. Current law only prohibits individuals younger than 18 years of age from using wireless telephones.

The proposed bill also extends the existing provision of the use of wireless telephones to include all mobile electronic devices.  These are handheld or portable electronic devices used for amusement, transmitting wireless data, or voice communication between two or more parties, e.g.  pagers, electronic games, laptop computers, or tablets. Also included are wearable mobile devices with a touchscreen. Think watches that monitor your heart rate, daily activity, movement, etc. For a complete list of mobile electronic devices, click here.


Images below courtesy of the Colorado Department of Transportation - #CrashNotAccident

Penalties for distracted driving would also increase under SB19-012 as follows:

Source: Colorado Legislative Council Staff Issue Brief, Number 17-28, July 2017

Source: Colorado Legislative Council Staff Issue Brief, Number 17-28, July 2017

  • First violation - $300 and 4 points - a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense

  • Second violation - $500 and 6 points - class 1 misdemeanor traffic offense

  • Third or subsequent violation - $750 and 8 points - class 1 misdemeanor traffic offense


Distracted driving is a global problem. Countries such as Canada are implementing tougher penalties. In Ontario, convicted distracted drivers will have their license suspended for three days on a first offense, seven days after two convictions, and for 30 days for third and further convictions. Fines would increase as well with drivers paying up to $3,000 for third or subsequent convictions.

One way to limit distracted driving is to use a cell phone blocking app or device. Drivers are prevented from making or accepting calls, texting, or accessing the internet while the vehicle is in motion.

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If you own an iPhone, check out the “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature in your phone’s settings. Phone notifications are withheld while driving, and an automatic response will be sent to the person trying to reach you.

Apple CarPlay features Siri voice control and allows you to make calls, send and receive messages, listen to music, and get directions while keeping your hands on the steering wheel and your eyes on the road.

Android Auto offers drivers hands-free voice control using Google Assistant. The Assistant can help you get step-by-step directions, call phone numbers from your contacts, chat with your favorite apps, read your messages aloud, and text back.

There are plenty of apps on the market that help prevent distracted driving and help parents monitor their teen driver’s cell phone use. Check out the Drive Safe Mode or LifeSaver apps. LifeSaver blocks all phone usage and lets parents know that their child arrived safely. The app locks the phone once the vehicle starts moving. It gives drivers iTunes rewards for safe driving. Check out more apps here.

CDOT is working to bring awareness to driving safely on Colorado’s roads. Their digital message boards focus on distracted driving, seat belts and work zone safety. The messages are designed to grab the driver’s attention, and they get people talking. Maybe you have even noticed some of the messages directed at distracted driving.


Looking to the future, autonomous vehicles or self-driving cars may be part of the solution to making roadways safer. Many collisions are preventable and are a result of distracted drivers who text, talk on a cell phone, or enter data into a navigation app, etc. There are lots of pros and cons to autonomous vehicles. An argument for autonomous vehicles is certainly that 81 percent of the estimated 5.5 million car crashes that occur in the United States every year are caused by human error. Computers could reduce the number of collisions each year. There is also no chance for a computer to be distracted, which is a leading cause of crashes every year.

Currently, testing of driverless cars is only allowed in five states: California, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, and Washington. Experts predict that the first commercially available semi-autonomous cars could be on the road in the next one to two years. (More here).

A big piece of the distracted driving battle is making sure no cyclists are driving their cars (or bikes) with phones or devices in hand.  We have all seen it - cyclists sitting up on their bikes two-handed texting on their phones with their faces in their screens.  It is up to us in the cycling community to perfect our behavior and do this right, and lead by example.


CALL TO ACTION FOR CYCLISTS:

If cyclists driving cars cannot put down their own phones, how can we ask motorists who ARE NOT cyclists to do so?  We cannot lambaste "those motorists" for driving distracted while exhibiting the same behaviors. It always helps our causes and battles when we can say cyclists are doing everything we can as a group to improve our own conduct.

We have more information on distracted driving and what you can do to make the roads safer for all users in our blog post Take the Pledge:  April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Don’t put others at risk. Put your mobile electronic devices down while driving or just turn them off.


#10000milesin2018 + Hope Sports Home Build #2

What a 2018 that was!!! Whew.

Well … for those waiting for the final mileage update: I made it. I clicked off my final 45 miles on 12/31 and with that, reached my goal of riding 10,000 miles in 2018. It was such an adventure, and it became a very difficult and challenging goal in the latter part of the year, especially between mid-November and the end of the year. I don’t think I’ve logged that many 300+ mile weeks in a row, ever. I am deeply satisfied, and happy, about meeting my goal and even more so, overjoyed with all the people around the world who joined in on our Strava Club to take part in the challenge! I am excited to set some new 2019 bike-goals!

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Hope Sports Home Build #2

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A far more important event took place in late December - and that was our second Hope Sports home build trip. This time, the home (materials, etc) were sponsored by our law firm and this brought even more meaning and intention to the trip. I was SO happy to see that most of the people on last year’s build trip came back, so we got to work alongside friends new and old.

Plus, some of our 2018 law firm clients, like the Selkes, and Travis Lechner, and cycling enthusiast Greg Besaw, also joined in.

I’ll let the photos tell the story once again, because they do it far more beautifully than my words ever could. If this moves you and stirs your heart, PLEASE reach out to Hope Sports and sign up for a build trip in 2019! I am pretty sure we’ll be taking a team down once again - stay tuned for details ;) .

#10000milesin2018: Month 11 update

PC: Jonathan Rojas

PC: Jonathan Rojas

We are getting down into the final stretch and I feel like I’m cramming for finals!


Total Miles to Date:

Target: 9163 miles…My mileage: 8751


Total Number of Strava Group Members: 391


Greg Boyd from Lake Mary, FL - Just got my 10k today...going for 11k for the year.

Ken Harding of Stratford, England, United Kingdom - Just cracked 10K, feeling good, now to try and achieve 12K for the Year.

Dan Dwyer in Syracuse, NY - 12K Today!

THIS MONTH’S QUESTION: With one month to go, what does December look like for you in terms of getting the remaining miles in to accomplish your goal?

I put in a monster week the week of thanksgiving (approx 430 miles) to try and catch back up and made a big dent in the miles … And, now… I’ve got 1249 miles to go… and 29 days to get it done. This means I need to average 43 miles per day... I will miss December 27-30 for our Hope Sports home build trip, and I’ve got a few Monday rest days budgeted in … so it’s time to buckle down for sure. I am getting really strategic with Zwift workouts and I also leave my bike setup on my Feedback Sports omnium trainer in my Kitchen (seriously!) so that I can hop on it anytime I’m on a phone call or watching a movie. Every mile counts at this point!

Safer Roads Through Advocacy and Education

A collaborative blog post by Hottman Law Office and FC Bikes

We can all agree that education is key in making the roads safer for everyone. One of our missions at Hottman Law Office is to get more people on bikes through advocacy and education.

It is a mission that we share with the City of Fort Collins and FC Bikes. They are working hard to encourage bicycling as a viable and healthy means of transportation for Fort Collins' residents, employees and visitors of all ages and abilities. Jamie Gaskill, Program Specialist at FC Bikes, acknowledges the need for continuous education for all road users. One reason she gives is Colorado’s growing population which means more people riding and driving. Colorado has experienced rapid population growth throughout the past decade. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated Colorado’s population at 5.6 million in July 2017; that’s an 11.5 % increase from 2010.

Another reason Gaskill cites is the increased emphasis on Vision Zero - the goal of having zero traffic-related fatalities. Colorado’s statewide initiative, which began in 2015, is called Moving Towards Zero Deaths. Fort Collins was the first city in Colorado to adopt this initiative.

There is also an emphasis on making Colorado the best bicycling state in the nation. In September 2015, Governor Hickenlooper announced a four-year plan and slated 100 million dollars to help make Colorado the best state for biking in the nation. The objective is to make bikes more accessible and riding safer by adding bike lanes and improving driver education.

Hottman Law Office and FC Bikes are helping to make the state better for bicycling in a number of ways.

In 2016, Fort Collins launched a bike share program with 100 bikes. Since then, 23 bikes stations have been added around town, and the bike share fleet is now at 250 bikes.

FC Bikes is participating in a three-year initiative with PeopleforBikes called the Big Jump Project. The goal is to create a safe, connected, comfortable and vibrant environment for bicycling in northwest Fort Collins. FC Bikes is achieving this through infrastructure improvements such as the new Mulberry Protected bike lane pilot project that was recently installed. FC Bikes is also doing neighborhood-based outreach and engagement to bring residents what they need in order to get more people on bikes.

In addition, FC Bikes works to celebrate bicycling and encourage new ridership. Events such as Bike to Work Day and Winter Bike to Work Day are community-wide celebrations of bicycling in Fort Collins. FC Bikes organizes Open Streets events which allow community members to experience roadways with minimal motorized traffic and can encourage people to try bicycling or bicycle more often.

FC Bikes offers a great selection of educational classes, information and opportunities for both motorists and cyclists:

  • Bicycle Ambassador Program – Become an ambassador of safe cycling in northern Colorado.

  • Bicycling Education Classes and Presentations – Sign up for an adult or youth education class and learn about safe cycling practices.

  • Rules of the Road – Learn the laws regarding safe passing, helmets, distracted driving, sidewalk riding and much more.

  • Bicycle Friendly Driver Program – Get educated about the best and safest ways to share the road with people on bicycles. This 1 1/2 hour class discusses common crashes and how to avoid them, why bicyclists ‘take the lane’ and what motorists should do in response and how to navigate bicycle related infrastructure such as sharrows, bike boxes, and green lanes.

They are also partnering with Fort Collins Police Services in a program called Ride Smart Drive Smart which is designed to educate both cyclists and motorists on how to safely and lawfully share the roadways, encourage smart riding and driving behavior and enforce laws for safety. As part of this initiative, the Fort Collins Police Services staff received educational workshops from Hottman Law Office and will also attend the Bicycle Friendly Driver trainings starting in March 2019.

Megan presents to a full house of cyclists at Full Cycle Bike Shop in Boulder every June.

Megan presents to a full house of cyclists at Full Cycle Bike Shop in Boulder every June.

Hottman Law Office is committed to providing education and advocating to make the roads safer for everyone. It is why we offer classes about Colorado cycling laws to both motorists and cyclists at local bike clubs, driving schools as well as to law enforcement personnel. Most recently, we have been offering workshops to cyclists on how to handle their insurance claims in personal injury cases.

Our Bike Ambassadors and the Golden Police Dept.

Our Bike Ambassadors and the Golden Police Dept.

This year, we partnered with the Golden Police Department and our Bike Ambassador team to put together informative safety videos on group riding, taking the lane, headphones, the right hook, and lots more. Visit the Golden Police Department’s Facebook page for more information.

Check out more of our educational videos here. The Let's Ride Safe // Let's Drive Safe video addresses ways that drivers and cyclists can ride and drive safely.

Hottman Law Office has hosted a Bike to Work Day station every year since 2012 and organizes a group ride in June to Lookout Mountain to bring together the cycling community:

Our website offers information on cycling laws, crash advice, commuting tips and how to handle aggressive drivers. Topics we have covered on our blog relevant for both motorists and cyclists include:

Megan presented her safe cycling talk to the PEDAL Racing and PEDAL bike shop team earlier this year.

Megan presented her safe cycling talk to the PEDAL Racing and PEDAL bike shop team earlier this year.

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 :) .”

#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.

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 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.