Advocacy

Safe and Legal Group Rides - The Dos and Don’ts

It’s that time of the year again when we start seeing more cyclists on the road. Spring has sprung, and cyclists are ready to dust off their bikes and put some miles on them.

As cyclists are out enjoying the change of seasons, motorists will need to pay close attention when driving near cyclists, especially when navigating around group rides.

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These rides are often a great source of frustration to motorists, especially in areas such as canyon roads, where there is little room to pass or no bike lane or shoulder for cyclists. Often, groups even take over the whole lane, riding four to five riders abreast, which makes it nearly impossible to pass safely.

We have nothing against group rides—even hard, fast group rides. Honestly, that is how most of us get faster and better. However, group rides often lack the etiquette and behavior of an organized race.

Recently, we were asked about correct and safe protocol for group rides. Two abreast? Single pace line? How many riders in a group? When can a cyclist take the lane?

Let’s begin by assessing these questions from the standpoint of a motorist.  If you were driving behind your group ride, how would you feel? If you feel like you could safely pass the group, then that is a win. If you feel really conflicted, confused, or nervous because the cyclists are riding erratically or in a disorganized fashion where you cannot predict what they are about to do, then that group ride is a fail.

Next, from a legal standpoint, cyclists have all the same rights and obligations as the operator of a motor vehicle. Cyclists can ride on all roads other than certain portions of interstates.

In Colorado, cyclists can ride two abreast but not more than two abreast unless riding in a bike lane. Two abreast is really intended to be handlebar-to-handlebar, not eternity between two bikes. If you do not have the skill to ride side by side (as is sometimes the case with new riders), then you should ride single file.

You can only ride two abreast if you are not impeding the normal and reasonable flow of traffic. What does impede mean? Law enforcement we have worked with define impede as five or more cars backed up behind your group.

If you are riding two abreast, or if the group is a two-by-two line of ten riders deep, and a car is behind you that has to slow down and wait before passing you, that is not considered impeding traffic. However, if you have five or more cars starting to back up behind you causing trouble or traffic chaos, that is considered an impede. Law enforcement will pull the whole group over and write tickets if they observe this. They can cite everyone in the group, not just the people to the left. Law enforcement phones blow up with calls from motorists calling to complain about group rides e.g. too many cyclists riding abreast in a single lane, or swarming the shoulder, or taking two lanes of the road.

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Should you be riding single file or two abreast in canyons? This is a judgement call. If you are not impeding anyone, then you are fine riding up a canyon two abreast. If you start to notice cars backing up behind you, then go single file, because that is what the law requires. Yes, cycling is a social sport. It is more fun to climb next to a friend. However,  if it is a high traffic day, or if you are riding in hot tension areas, especially when you are climbing and going slower than a car, we recommend riding single file.

When can a cyclist take the lane? We have a pro-cyclist statute in Colorado— a cyclist must ride as far to the right as deemed safe by the cyclist and is justified in taking the lane anytime to avoid obstacles on the road, parked cars, or if the lane is too narrow for both a vehicle and a bike. In most states, motorists must give cyclists a three-foot buffer. If it is a narrow lane and there is not enough room in the lane for a car, the three-foot buffer, and the cyclist, the cyclist should take the lane to avoid being sideswiped. “Impede” is not associated with a single cyclist taking the lane.

Try to read the driver you are dealing with. If you feel that your group is going to be in danger, because taking the lane is going to set off the driver, pull over to the side of the road. It makes more sense to pull over and let that one car go by.

What is the gold standard for a group ride in terms of size? Groups should be small enough to be in control, ideally 10-20 riders. A well-oiled Tour de France team could be 20-25 riders as they take up a very minimal footprint on the road. Newer riders will take up more of a footprint, as they will have more space between the riders, between the handlebars, and will be more spread out.

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If you organize a group ride, govern your group rides strictly. Remember that you are on display. The bigger the group, the more attention people will pay. The worse the behavior, the more magnified it becomes. It is guilt by association. If someone is doing something dangerous or risky on your ride, your whole group is getting lumped into that.

Guidelines we follow when organizing a group ride:

  • Keep the size of the group small enough to be in control (8-10 riders).

  • Know your riders and their levels. Put the strong riders in the front and back and the weaker riders in rows two, three, and four, etc.

  • Take ownership of the group ride. Go over the rules and expectations before the ride begins.

  • Make sure riders follow the rules. Call people out when they do something inappropriate. If they repeat the behavior, do not invite them back to the next ride.

Tom Danielson, founder of CINCH Coaching, agrees that one person must take ownership of the group ride. When he leads a ride, he calls himself the “ref,” and has even worn a ref jersey.

You become the ref, the pilot. You’re the person in charge of the ride, and you take full ownership. A lot of these group rides, there’s no one doing that.
— Tom Danielson

Tom says that it is important for the person to call it out from the beginning of the ride: introduce yourself, say that you are the person in charge of the ride, and list the rules of the ride.

“If you are in the front, you are the bus driver,” he says. “You are fully responsible for all the passengers behind you.”  It is your responsibility to point things out e.g. obstacles, slow down in advance of stop signs, or hit the brakes early before the stop sign. In the back, you are the eyes of the group. When you are in the back, you are solely responsible for all the cars behind you. For example, if the group is bunching, it is your responsibility as the “caboose” to ride up to the bus driver to communicate the problem e.g. “a little more to the right” or “car back”.

Photo courtesy of CINCH Cycling - Police escort in front of a group ride

Photo courtesy of CINCH Cycling - Police escort in front of a group ride

For larger group rides, Tom recommends hiring a police escort to drive out in front of the group ride. This allows for a bigger group and for the group to use the entire road, because the police are up front. The group ride becomes safer and legal, and the community joins in. “When we had the police in front of our group, all those drivers give you a thumbs up and they cheer you on. They want to watch,” he says.

Tom admits that cycling has changed a lot since the 80s when group rides first started. He attributes this to fewer cars on the road back then. Cars were not going as fast. Group rides consisted of ten riders. Etiquette was far more enforced among riders. “We all want group rides to continue. It’s part of the cycling culture, but things have to change.”

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When it comes time for your group ride this season, remember to practice safe riding and follow the rules of the road. Avoid dangerous situations with motorists when possible. Put yourself in the driver’s shoes when you are on a group ride. Ask yourself how you would feel as a motorist behind your own group ride.


Check out this video on group riding that we worked on with the Golden Police Department.

The inconvenience of cycling

Slow down, indeed.

Slow down, indeed.

This morning, I rolled out of my house around 7:10am to make it to my chiropractor appointment at 7:30am.  Of all the steeds in my stable, I chose the E-Bike to get there, and wore “normal” clothes, (as in, regular pants and jacket, not a cycling kit).  I had a bright red jacket on, my bike is bright red, and this time of year it’s full-on daylight at this time of the morning. 

I chose (fairly) lightly-traveled, low-speed limit roads plus a large portion of bike path to get from home to my destination.  It was, however, still rush-hour.  (Insert typical cyclist rant about a motorist buzzing or side-swiping…)

Today is day 4 of my #carfreeweek … I committed to riding and not driving this week, Tuesday through Sunday. (Monday was raining so I went for 6/7).  This means my car is locked in the garage for 6 days, no matter what. Between weather and schedule, this week presented the perfect opportunity to ditch the car keys for a week.

Keep in mind, I own a perfectly lovely vehicle.  I absolutely love my Toyota 4runner.  LOVE IT.  I can throw the bikes, dogs and anything else in the back, it drives through any kind of snow or conditions, I feel safe it in, it has a wonderful sound system and sunroof.  She’s black and looks totally badass when she’s all cleaned up.  (She’s nicknamed Black Mamba (you Kill Bill fans will get it)).  I like my car a lot. 

So …it occurred to me this morning, after several large trucks and SUVs (all carrying just one person, the driver, by the way) buzzed me closely, giving me far less than three feet, (and one hothead Cadillac-guy took a curve super hot, nearly side-swiping me), that it’s ironic how motorists view me on my E-bike doing 20mph, as inconvenient.  That I should have the audacity to force them to slow their roll for a moment, to pause behind me when there is an oncoming car, and to give me the three-feet I am allowed by law… that these gestures (also known as safe and courteous driving techniques) would be so inconvenient to passing motorists that they choose instead to risk my health and bodily safety so that they can maintain their over-the-posted-speed-limit-speed … is ironic. 

Because- I am the one inconvenienced.  I left my wonderful 4runner home in the garage – the vehicle that would have carried me most safely, and most expeditiously, to my destinations today. The 4Runner would have provided me heated seats this morning, A/C later today, and commercial-free bass-bumping beats via satellite radio.  The 4runner would’ve ensured my hair was unfussed (unmussed? whatever you know what I mean) and I was sweat-free when I got to where I was going.  Make-up perfect, clothing unwrinkled.  I mean, clearly, the car is THE convenient way for me to transport myself. 

And yet.  I chose to sweat, rock helmet-hair, take longer to get where I was going, be cold this morning and hot later today, tunes-free with chilly air blowing in my ears.  I am the one inconvenienced by my decision to ride instead of drive. 

In so choosing, I made a few other choices, too:

I decided to reward my body and brain with restorative movement – to get my blood pumping, to burn some calories, to absorb some Vitamin D and move my body.  That means I am decreasing the odds I will be a burden to our health care system; the chances are lower that I’ll need pills to sleep, pills to wake up, pills to feel happier, pills to lose weight, or expensive hospital stays to combat the ill effects of being overweight, under-exercised, and to cope with deteriorating health.  My ride means I am investing in my health in a way that does not contribute to our burdened healthcare providers, hospitals, and insurers.   

Countries around the world are only starting to tabulate health care savings due to bicycling. Denmark, which plans to expand its bicycle highway network after such a project in Copenhagen’s suburbs was judged a success, estimates the country saves €40 million annually ($53.3 million) on health care costs. That is ... an impressive sum in a nation of 5.6 million people.
— https://www.triplepundit.com/story/2013/how-bicycling-cuts-health-care-costs-businesses/59121

I decided not to impose any wear and tear on our roadways.  A human on her bicycle inflicts approximately ZERO negative influence on our roadways.  Whereas, my 4runner and any other vehicle beats up our streets and leads to them, over time, needing expensive repairs and upgrades- today, I did not beat up on any concrete or asphalt.  The streets did not suffer as a result of my need to transport myself. 

It would take 700 trips by bicycle to equal the damage caused by one Smart Car.
— https://streets.mn/2016/07/07/chart-of-the-day-vehicle-weight-vs-road-damage-levels/

I decided to exhale Co2 – aka, produce substantially less CO2 than driving:

Traveling 2 miles (3.2 kilometers):
By car: 0.88 kg CO2
Walking: 0.039 kg CO2
Riding a bike: 0.017 kg CO2
Walking or riding a bicycle does reduce the production of CO2 relative to driving.
— https://www.globe.gov/explore-science/scientists-blog/archived-posts/sciblog/index.html_p=186.html

I decided to burn fat and not fuel.  Stating the obvious here. (And, yes, it’s an E-bike, so it was charged, which does use electricity, so alright there’s that). 

I decided to spend $0 – I didn’t have to pay for fuel, or a car wash, or vehicle maintenance to ride my bike today.  I simply rode. For free.  On a bicycle that does not depreciate or require of me the upkeep that my vehicle does.  (Wanna be a millionaire? Check this out).

I chose happiness over convenience.  Even with the close calls, riding my bike still makes me –and leaves me –happier than when I drive.  Road rage inside a vehicle is a thing.  I don’t experience that on my bike.  (Perhaps I should, since I am far more vulnerable and I experience far more close calls which would really have serious implications for me than close calls in my car).  But –as it stands, the bike makes me happy. 

I see something cool every single time I ride.  Birds.  Grass.  Flowers.  Dogs with their heads hanging out the back window of the car they are riding in. A motorist with their window down, waving at me. A horse, donkey, you name it. 

This state of hyper-stress has contributed immensely to the staggering growth of serious health issues we face today. Many turn to medications for stress and anxiety and mindlessly consume large amounts of caffeine, sugar and refined junk just to get through another day.

Mindfully taking the opposite approach, slowing down when we can, becoming unhurried can benefit and enhance our lives physically, spiritually and mentally. And we just might accomplish more.
— https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-11668/why-you-need-to-slow-down-for-better-health.html

So, motorists perceive me on my bike as an inconvenience.  But instead, I did drivers a favor today; I didn’t contribute to traffic mayhem.  That massive I-70 closure this morning that forced traffic into alternate routes?  Yeah … I wasn’t a participant in that.  I actually removed a car from the traffic jam.  I got sweaty and my hair was messed up.  I showed up to work engaged, awake, alert, friendly, happy, and motivated.  I burned calories, I thought about things (this article, for one), I processed some stress. 

My ride made me a better human, a better member of your community, and a better employer/lawyer/friend/daughter/dog-momma.  I asked a runner to take my photo and I got to talk to a stranger for a minute.  Not bad, inconvenient bicycle, not bad.

I chose inconvenience today (and every day) when I pick my bike over my car.  I don’t expect thanks or appreciation from motorists, but I do demand and deserve respect as an equal road user.  Instead of seeing cyclists as inconveniences, motorists, I’d appreciate it if you kept these things in mind next time you see me on the roadway. 

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.