Advocacy

Arizona Legal System Failing Injured Cyclists

No consequences = No Changes.

With its natural landscapes, bike infrastructure, and perfect weather for year-round cycling, Arizona is considered by many as a cycling paradise. Every year, cyclists head to Arizona to cities such as Scottsdale, Phoenix, or Tucson to enjoy miles of cycling routes and open roads. It is also home to many professional cyclists, endurance athletes, and bike commuters. The conditions are honestly, ideal.

Yet, law enforcement and city attorneys are dropping the ball when it comes to protecting cyclists and holding motorists who injure them accountable. Several of our Arizona-based clients saw the at-fault drivers minimally charged and even more minimally punished with paltry five-hour classes. Some even got the charges against them dismissed!  Drivers are simply not punished severely enough for causing injury to cyclists. 

In 2017, 32 bicyclist fatalities were reported in Arizona with 1,371 cyclists injured. That made Arizona the 5th most dangerous state for cyclists. According to the People Powered Movement, Tucson ranked second and Phoenix fourth as the most dangerous cities nationwide for cyclists in 2015. People For Bikes gives Scottsdale a low score of 1.7, and gives Phoenix a score of 1.5.

Based on our recent experiences, it seems that traffic violations involving cyclists in Phoenix and Scottsdale rarely make it to court, and the fines/penalties are minimal. Drivers may end up getting off with a $250 fine and no jail time. If a motorist seriously injures or kills a cyclist when violating Arizona's 3-foot passing rule (§28-735), the financial penalty would increase to $500 and $1,000 respectively. 

There is no specific statute in Arizona that addresses vehicular manslaughter, and only certain traffic violations may lead to a manslaughter charge if they involve the death of a person while driving. These include driving under the influence, excessive speed, aggressive driving, and racing. (See Arizona Revised Statute (A.R.S.) §13-1103).

Currently, Arizona does not have any laws to protect vulnerable road users (VRU), which in addition to cyclists also include pedestrians, motorcyclists, children, elderly and disabled people.  VRU applies to those groups most at risk in traffic. Additionally, “Arizona is still one of two states that has failed, yet to adopt any prohibition on texting while driving,” according to Arizona-Look Save a Life.

Arizona as a touted cycling mecca, needs to do a LOT more to protect its resident cyclists and the hundreds of cyclists who flock there in the winter for warm riding. Cycling is a profitable subset of tourism for this state, and while bike lanes are very common and prevalent (which is a good start), the state needs stronger, harsher laws and intentional enforcement. It is time for law enforcement, city/district attorneys, and lawmakers to cite drivers properly, enforce harsher penalties, and enact legislation to make cycling safer and protect all VRUs.

Despite serious bodily injuries to our clients, two of the drivers were allowed to take a five-hour defensive driving class, had their tickets dismissed, and received no points or fines. In one case, the driver's ticket was dismissed even before the class was required. None of these drivers even had to appear in court! 

Scottsdale - Our client Ryan Hardy (above) was riding in a marked bike lane around 7:30 pm on February 26, 2019 when he was right-hooked at a T intersection where he had the right of way. He was riding with a bright front light and a flashing rear light and was wearing a helmet and a kit with reflective bands. The driver told police that he “didn’t see the man on the bike” when he turned.

Instead of waiting behind Ryan to safely make it across the intersection, the driver accelerated, passed Ryan, and then made a right-hand turn directly in front of him. The impact of the collision threw Ryan in front of the car into the intersection. He was transported to the hospital for his injuries.

Citation: 

Violation of 28-754 - Unsafe Turning Movement to the Right 

Fines/Penalties:  

A minor traffic violation in which the driver took online traffic school ($200), and all charges were dropped. 

How does Ryan feel about the outcome? In no way, shape, or form does he feel that the outcome was just or fair. “It’s pathetic and insulting because about six months later, I still have several problems on a daily basis and still cannot work out in almost any capacity. I still have to see physical therapists, concussion specialists, neurologists, a therapist, and have never taken so many prescription drugs to control problems in my entire life,” he says.

Ryan believes that a law similar to the strictest DUI laws in the country, applied to making any and all contact with a person/cyclist while driving, could change a lot. Like those extreme DUI laws, major monetary consequences, a very high level of culpability, and, maybe most importantly, the highest/strictest level of enforcement of this law and its consequences would help to bring about change.

If he had the chance to talk to the driver about cyclists and safety, Ryan would point out that the majority of outcomes when hitting a person/cyclist with a car is that a human being is killed. He believes that most collisions with cyclists could be avoided by simply slowing down and or waiting a mere 1-30 seconds. “I ask people who think those few seconds are so important, ‘Are you willing to knowingly kill somebody to save that time or just drive faster?’”

Scottsdale again - Our client Eric Marcotte (above) was knocked unconscious on November 20, 2018, when a driver failed to yield the right of way at an intersection and drove straight into him. He was thrown from his bike and landed on the roadway. Eric was also riding in the bike lane and had the right of way. 

Eric is a professional cyclist who rides between 350-500 miles per week. He knows this stretch of road and area very well, having ridden it thousands of times over the last decade of living in Arizona. At the time of the collision, he was wearing his team sponsor’s kit, which is a blue and white combination, and was riding with blinking lights. The driver claimed that Eric “just came out of nowhere.”  Eric maintains that the driver had a visible line of sight looking south well over a mile with the road being straight.

Citation: 

Violation of 28-773, Failure to Yield Right of Way

Fines/Penalties:  

$250 fine and defensive driving class for the driver, which he and his lawyer argued against for months before accepting.

Eric wants motorists to understand how important it is to be aware and attentive while taking the responsibility of driving a vehicle and believes that the system enables motorists to be negligent. “Drivers will have someone fighting for them to not be responsible. So that enables poor drivers and doesn’t help change actions,” says Eric. 

He wishes he knew how important it is that police officers and district attorneys do their job as well. He says they need to step up and set a precedent by setting the consequences for negligent/inattentive/distracted drivers in a way that has consequences great enough to change actions. Suspending licenses, implementing substantial fines, as well as raising insurance rates will make motorists more aware—a $250 fine will not.

Eric recommends riding with a camera because it can keep everyone accountable. “Then you will see how drivers treat cyclists—you can keep compiling those clips and send/share to law enforcement to show them what’s happening—and will also show you, as a cyclist, are following the law.”  


Phoenix - Our client Melissa Lemke, was out for a ride on her bike on March 10, 2019, around 11:30 am when she was struck by a driver who failed to yield to her at a four-way stop. She was wearing a white helmet and her cycling kit which was green, white, and black. It had high-visibility striping on the legs and high-vis patches on the front and back of her jersey. 

Melissa had stopped at the intersection, yielded to the driver on her right and then proceeded into the intersection once that car had passed through. This is when she was struck by a second vehicle also coming from the right who failed to yield. Melissa’s injuries included a broken elbow and a broken left wrist that required surgery. A large plate was put in her left wrist, and she had to wear a splint for her broken elbow. At first,  Melissa was dependent on her husband for almost everything: getting dressed, bathing, personal hygiene, preparing food, etc. Even now, nearly six months later, her left wrist often aches and many actions of daily living incite burning and pain in her right wrist. Melissa ordered a new bicycle but had thoughts about returning it and not riding again.

Citation: 

Violation of 28-773, Failure to Yield Right of Way

Fines/Penalties:  

Driver's ticket was dismissed by going to traffic school.

That’s right! The ticket was dismissed because of the type of ticket he was given: Failure to Yield Right of Way.  The driver now has a clean driving record while Melissa continues to deal with the physical impact of the crash. Even though the police officer came to the hospital and eventually learned that Melissa needed surgery, the driver was given a ticket that could be dismissed by attending traffic school, not a ticket that indicated he had caused serious bodily injury to Melissa from which she has not yet completely recovered.  

When she first learned of the ticket dismissal, about a month after the crash, Melissa was truly devastated.  Up to that point, she had taken a small comfort in knowing that the driver incurred a serious consequence for his actions. Finding out that the driver was able to wipe his driving record clean, while she was still seeing a surgeon and a physical therapist for her injuries, was shocking. 

“This dismissal speaks to the lack of protection we cyclists have on the road. If drivers are not penalized in a meaningful way for running down a cyclist, we are simply moving targets out there. I really don’t know when or if I will fully recover, and the driver does not even have a black mark against his driving record,” says Melissa.

She wishes cyclists knew how they may have to start fighting for their rights at the scene of the crash and that they need to know the laws so they can ask the right questions. She also wishes that she had been able to take photos and had thought to record the driver saying over and over that he did not see her. “I wish I would have questioned the officer about the type of ticket, but I did not know he had choices to make.  I thought he was at the hospital verifying my injuries so he would have evidence to support a serious charge against the driver,” says Melissa.

She thought she could depend on the police. Although she was conscious after her crash, many cyclists are not or are so injured that they cannot not possibly stand up for themselves at the scene.  “We should be able to depend on law enforcement to protect both drivers and cyclists,” she says. 

So, what can you do to bring about change? Here are some suggestions:

  • Get involved with a bicycle advocacy group (PeopleForBikes, either at the national, state, or local level).

  • Contact your local state legislator to advocate for laws to make cycling safer.

  • Know the laws in your state, especially those pertaining to Vulnerable Road Users.

  • Support cyclists who have been injured by showing up at the driver’s sentencing hearing.

  • Talk to your friends, family, and cyclists about your experiences or close encounters with motorists. Spread the word about how to make cycling safer.

For more information about cycling laws in Arizona and municipal codes for Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tucson, visit our website. Would you like to get involved in Arizona bike advocacy, specifically? Then please consider joining local groups working hard to make positive changes, like the Rob Dollar Foundation, and Look Save a Life Arizona.

Empowering Cyclists Through Education

Cyclist Takes Action for the Better and Safety of all Cyclists

If bike lanes are designed for use by cyclists to keep them safe from vehicles and other hazards, why do cyclists constantly have to deal with delivery trucks or ride-share vehicles parked in bike lanes, piles of snow shoveled into the bike lane, or trash bins blocking a cyclist’s path? Even traffic cones or construction signs are set up in bike lanes. What gives?!?

A campaign called Things in Bike Lanes, which was launched in Denver in 2018, encouraged the cycling community to take photos showing blocked bike lanes in an effort to raise awareness about safety issues and to help officials better understand, monitor, and begin to address these issues.

At one of our recent cycling law education classes, attendee Randy Limmer brought up a safety issue concerning blocked bike lanes on Lucent Boulevard in Highlands Ranch. Construction barrels and cones had been blocking the bike lane on Lucent between Town Center Drive and Plaza Road for approximately two years due to the construction of the UCHealth Highlands Ranch Hospital.

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Lucent is a very heavily traveled road by motorists attempting to gain access to E-470. Randy says that the arrangement of the barrels and cones was typically quite random and caused different levels of blockage of the bike lane, which is one of the key feeders for cyclists from Highlands Ranch to the E-470 trail, Chatfield State Park, and Deer Creek Canyon.  

Randy has lived in Highlands Ranch since 2003 and commutes to work by bike and tries to complete 100 bicycle commutes annually. He also tries to put more miles on his bike every year than miles on his car.

On the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 2017, Randy was heading out for a ride and as usual traveling on Lucent Boulevard heading north to the E-470 bike trail. Being a Sunday, the motorist traffic was very low, and it was a beautiful day for a ride. As he approached the construction barrels and cones in the bike lane, Randy checked for vehicle traffic in the lane furthest to the right of three vehicle lanes noting that it was clear. He extended his left arm to let motorists know that he was moving left into the lane. As he continued in the right vehicle lane, a motorist came up behind him and honked the horn continuously. Randy looked back to see the driver who appeared to be very upset.

Based on his quick review of the situation, he decided to go right back into the bike lane and stop before the next construction barrel to let the motorist proceed. Unfortunately, based on his speed of 20-25 miles per hour (it’s downhill in this area) and the angle that he was able to accomplish around the barrels, his front tire and wheel got stuck in a very large expansion gap in the concrete road between the vehicle lane and bike lane.

His front wheel stopped, but his body kept going. Randy ended up in the right vehicle lane and the honking car swerved around his body on the ground. Fortunately, a young woman in the next vehicle stopped behind him and blocked additional vehicle traffic until he could gather his composure, stand up, and get out of the road.

He ended up in the ER and received many stitches, mostly in his left knee and others on the top of the knuckles on both hands. The front wheel of his bike was bent, and his saddle had a couple of tears.

Randy has recovered from his injuries and is back on his bike commuting to work, riding trails and recently participated in his twelfth MS150 ride with his company’s team at Johns Manville. Before the MS150, Megan spoke to the employees at Johns Manville about bike safety issues and laws.

From left to right: D. Marquez, R. Limmer and Megan

From left to right: D. Marquez, R. Limmer and Megan

Following the class, Randy says he felt empowered. He contacted the construction superintendent at the hospital, and all the construction drums and cones were removed from the bike lane. “This is a big win for all Highlands Ranch bicyclists. Thanks for the encouragement,” says Randy.

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 Randy has worked in a manufacturing environment his entire career and says this has made him quite a safety nerd. His friends and family call him ‘Safety Bob’. He loves the nickname and is very proud of the impact that he has had in both his work and personal life.

“The end result is good, but I am disappointed in myself for not acting sooner,” says Randy.  His advice is to act quickly when it comes to cyclist safety. “I waited too long to act and hundreds if not thousands of cyclists were impacted by this situation over the years.”

We say...better cycling starts with all of us. Well done, Randy!

 

Lumber Truck Driver Cited with Careless Driving As Result of Cyclist's Video

But -Plea Deal Results in Defective Vehicle Charge…

A missed opportunity for justice—that is how cyclist Jonathan Wirth feels about the plea deal offered to the driver of a tractor trailer who violated the three-foot rule. The initial charge of careless driving was dismissed in Lafayette Municipal Court. Instead, the prosecutor reached a plea deal with the defendant on the lesser charge of a defective vehicle, which is a two-point violation. “How was that justice?” asks Jonathan.

This is why our office advocates to district and city attorneys to stop offering plea deals. Both Boulder and Jefferson County DA Offices have shown their commitment to holding drivers accountable and have been getting positive results for cyclists. Find out more about how DAs in Boulder and Jefferson Counties are handling cycling cases.

Here’s what happened to Jonathan. On April 9, 2019, he was commuting to work in Boulder County when the truck driver buzzed him within twelve inches of his rear pannier, coming even closer to his left shoulder. The wind created by the truck pushed Jonathan to the left and right and eventually forced him off the road into the dirt. He was not injured but was fearful for his life and felt the driver completely disregarded his safety.

Jonathan is not new to cycling. It was not his first time on a bike or even riding this stretch of State Highway 7 (East Baseline Road) in Lafayette, CO. He used to race both road and mountain bikes and is currently a level 3 National Interscholastic Cycling Association mountain bike coach at the high school where he teaches. He understands the rules of the road and strategies to stay safe. Jonathan wears a neon yellow jacket while riding his bike and is very visible.

As Jonathan was going to work that day, the paved shoulder he was riding on ended. Before taking the lane, he looked over his shoulder and saw a tractor trailer approaching. With his left arm, Jonathan signaled a downward swinging arm motion indicating to the driver to move over into the empty left-turn lane. He even made eye contact with the driver. 

Jonathan thought that the truck would move over, out of the lane, to safely pass him as all others cars had done on past rides. He was wrong—the driver came dangerously close to him. Jonathan felt like he was being pulled under the truck and was blown off the paved road. After collecting himself, Jonathan followed the truck on his bike and saw it turn into a gas station.  He approached the truck while the driver was inside the station and took photos of the company logo and license plate number. He learned that the truck belonged to a wood supply transfer company located in Lafayette.

The close call was captured on Jonathan’s Cycliq6 HD tail light camera. He is very thankful that he had his camera on his bike and plans to install a front-mounted camera as well to capture traffic in front of him. Since Jonathan had video footage, he decided not to confront the driver.

Following the incident, Jonathan took action. He contacted the company and was informed that they would send the information “up the chain.” On April 10th, the next day, he went to the Lafayette Police Department and filed a police report as well.  Jonathan showed Officer C. Hayford the video footage. In the incident report, Officer Hayford noted her observation of the incident from the footage as a “large semi truck with a trailer driving at a high rate of speed past Wirth.” On April 11th, Officer Hayford spoke to the driver by phone. According to the report, the driver thought that Jonathan was signaling his intention to get into the left-turn lane by sticking his left arm straight out to the side. When it became apparent that this was not the case, the driver started pulling into the left-turn lane. He told Officer Hayford that he thought he had given Jonathan enough room but also stated that he was unable to start moving into the left turn lane until he was nearly next to Jonathan due to oncoming traffic. 

As the video shows, he clearly did not give Jonathan the required three feet when passing as mandated by Colorado law.

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The law (C.R.S 42-4-1003 (1) (b)) states that motorists must give a 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 when passing. 

It is important to remember that in states where there is a 3-foot law, there is likely to be a provision that allows motorists to cross a solid double yellow centerline when passing to give cyclists the minimum required distance—as long as it is safe and clear of oncoming traffic.

Actual signage in Boulder County thanks to Cyclists4Community and Boulder County Government

Actual signage in Boulder County thanks to Cyclists4Community and Boulder County Government

If there is oncoming traffic, drivers must slow down behind the cyclist and wait to pass. Do not attempt to shoot the gap between the cyclist and the oncoming car. You must give the cyclist three feet no matter what!

Following her conversation with the driver, Officer Hayford called Jonathan and informed him that the driver had a different version of what had happened. Jonathan asked for him to be cited anyhow. The driver was summoned to appear in court. 


Jonathan was willing to take a personal day from teaching to attend the court hearing and ask for his rights. As a result of the plea deal, he did not get that opportunity. 


He believes cyclists should be able to ride on all Colorado state roads. Jonathan has contacted the Colorado Department of Transportation the past four years about this section of road. They are currently in the planning stage of widening it.

If you are involved in a similar situation, we encourage you to file a report with local authorities and the Close Call Database. You can sign up for free via STRAVA. You will get notifications when other riders update the database concerning incidents in your area. The mission is also to gather information about repeat offenders in hopes that information can then be provided in comprehensive form to law enforcement.  You can also call the Colorado State Patrol Aggressive Driver hotline or your state’s equivalent. In Colorado, dial *277 (*CSP).  The hotline has been approved for use by motorists to report drunk or erratic drivers, and it has been approved for use by cyclists to report motorist aggression.

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Check out our blog post for more information on crossing the centerline to pass a cyclist.

You can also get some of our 3-foot law stickers by sending a request with your address to connect@hottmanlawoffice.com.

Bike to Work Day 2019: 9th Edition

2019 BTWD is a WRAP! This year we added BACON, a running coach and physical therapist, a Yoga instructor, even MORE awesome cookies, 3-foot noodles, cornhole games, GoFarm, and more.

Thank you to the 102+ cyclists who stopped by and made this so much fun, once again. Thank you to Greg Powers and Sterling Real Estate, Suga Me Sweet, GoFarm, Flow Yoga, Elevation Running, Pangea Coffee, and our HLO staff for pulling this all together in a wonderful way!

We can’t wait to see you for our 10th anniversary next BTWD!

Here are some GORGEOUS images captured by our friend Natalie Starr:

Here are some I captured on my iphone:

Jefferson County Taking A Tough Stand Against Drivers Who Injure Cyclists

A collaborative blog by Hottman Law Office, Steven Lykens and the Jefferson County DA’s office

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Steven Lykens—husband, engineer, competitive cyclist—made a point of attending and speaking at the sentencing hearing of a driver who caused him serious bodily injury.  He wanted to emphasize to the court, the district attorney’s office, and to the driver that the outcome of the case mattered to him and to the cycling community as a whole. 

On May 16, 2019, Steven addressed Jefferson County Court Judge Mark Randall and asked him to order 200 hours of community service as part of the driver’s sentencing. Considering the time that he spent in the hospital, at appointments with doctors, as well as time spent working to heal his injuries, Steven felt 200 hours was fair.

The driver, Miranda Lewin, was sentenced to 120 hours of community service to be completed in 120 days on the charge of careless driving. Her public defender argued for fewer hours, but Judge Randall did not back down. In fact, he told Lewin she is a terrible driver based on her previous (and subsequent) traffic convictions and warned her that she would be back in court if she did not serve her community service. Judge Randall reminded Lewin that drivers have a responsibility to their community, including cyclists. 

Lewin, who was 20 years old at the time of the collision with Steven, was previously convicted of driving a vehicle while impaired by alcohol/drugs in 2016, careless driving, and operating a motor vehicle as a minor driver with an unauthorized passenger in 2014. Her driver's license was revoked in 2016 due to the alcohol offense, but it had been reinstated prior to this collision.

On the morning of September 2, 2018, Steven was riding in a bike lane in Lakewood when Lewin turned right, directly in front of him, into a 7-11 parking lot. Steven collided with Lewin’s vehicle and was thrown from his bicycle, landing in the 7-11 parking lot. He was unable to move and yelled for someone to call 911. Lewin remained at the scene and was later cited by Lakewood Police for careless driving causing bodily injury. Steven considers himself “lucky” that he went over the hood of the vehicle instead of under it or into oncoming traffic.

He was transported by ambulance to St. Anthony’s Hospital with lacerations to his right ankle and right elbow, road rash, and an abrasion to his right cheek. Officer Barefoot of the Lakewood Police Department, who responded to the scene, was advised by the emergency room doctor that Steven had sustained a lumbar spine fracture.

As a result, Steven was in a back brace for eight weeks. He now suffers from permanent scoliosis from two fractured vertebrae and is one inch shorter than before the crash. His life and physical body are forever altered, and he is in constant pain. The collision has altered his mental state as well. Driving and cycling are still difficult for him, and he is worried it could happen again. 

During the sentencing hearing, Steven also thanked the Lakewood Police Department, the Jefferson County DA, and the court for holding drivers accountable when cyclists are injured. Often cases involving bodily injury are pled down to minor infractions, leaving victims to feel doubly wronged. 

The Jefferson County DA’s office did a fantastic job handling this case. Jefferson County DA Pete Weir wants the driving public to recognize their obligation to share the road with cyclists.

We take these cases of careless driving with injury involving cyclists very seriously and treat the victims with the same respect and dignity we treat victims who are covered under Colorado’s Victims’ Rights Amendment (VRA) which protects the rights of victims in violent crimes. Often these injuries are life-changing for victims and their families, and we do everything we can to help them through the criminal justice process.
— - Pete Weir, Jefferson County DA

In Jefferson County, careless driving/cycling cases causing serious bodily injury are generally treated as VRA cases by the DA’s office, thereby involving the victims throughout the process. Deputy DA Kate Rhodes, who handled this case, believes that the appropriate outcome was reached, and justice was served. 

Steven shown with Deputy DA Kate Rhodes (L), Megan Hottman, and Tracy Drake (R)

Steven shown with Deputy DA Kate Rhodes (L), Megan Hottman, and Tracy Drake (R)

My goal for this case was to get the defendant to realize the impact she has had on Mr. Lykens’ life and the gravity of his injuries. Mr. Lykens showed incredible patience and professionalism throughout the process.
— Deputy DA Kate Rhodes

A newly passed law, sponsored by Senator Mike Foote of Boulder and Representative Dylan Roberts of Eagle and Routt Counties, is aimed at making Colorado’s roadways safer for vulnerable road users (VRU), including cyclists, pedestrians, construction workers, scooter riders, and peace officers. Governor Jared Polis signed SB 19-175 into law on May 29, 2019. 

Careless driving that leads to seriously injuring a VRU is now a class 1 traffic misdemeanor. Convicted drivers could face restitution and a one-year suspension of their license. Courts could require drivers to attend a driver improvement course and perform community service.

Many of Steven’s friends have been injured while riding their bikes due to the neglect of a driver of a motor vehicle. He hopes that someday cyclists can ride safely on public roads without having to worry about being injured by a driver. 

Given the nature and extent of our clients’ injuries, I have always advocated to District Attorneys and City Attorneys that the FULL “careless driving causing SBI” charge needs to stick. NO plea deals, not when the injuries are so serious. Careless causing SBI is only a 4-point violation, with minimal fines. We need the FULL Charge in order to ask the Judge for serious community service hours, restitution, (and now with SB 19-175, for the driver’s license, as well). My request to all DAs and CAs we encounter: Be like Jeffco and Boulder DAs. Treat these cases as VRA cases and please, stop offering plea bargains.
— Megan Hottman, The Cyclist Lawyer

Please remember to be cautious around cyclists, or any vulnerable road user, and look for cyclists before turning—whether they are riding in a bike lane or not! 

To read more about the Jeffco DA’s office, click here.

To read more about Judge Randall, click here.

Do What You Can, With What You Have, Where You Are: Show Up

By Megan Hottman

In the course of one week, I had two awesome opportunities to get involved in policy-making and aspects of bike advocacy and transportation and safety.

The first was June 4-6 with People for Bikes on a Women’s Fly-in to DC. There, 30 women from the bike industry along with female staff members of PFB, descended upon Capitol Hill to meet with elected officials and their staff, to advocate for bikes. Specifically, we had 3 asks (detailed below). PFB facilitated the meetings with our state officials (and their staff and interns). As well, we had the chance to network and connect as women in the bike industry who are working hard to effect change not just in transportation but across the cycling industry.

Our 3 asks, as outlined in our PFB materials:

Support bike funding priorities in the 2020 reauthorization of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. Every six years, Congress must reauthorize transportation funding. That happens in the FAST Act, which covers long‐term funding for maintenance and new projects on highways, railways, bike infrastructure and more.

Our main priorities of the FAST Act include:

● Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP)

● Federal Lands Transportation Program (FLTP) set‐aside

● Safety

Modernize the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP)

TAP is the largest federal funding source to help communities build bike infrastructure for on and off road bike facilities, recreational trail projects, safe routes to schools, and protected bike lanes. We are asking for increased funding and modernized funding mechanisms to empower local decision makers to direct TAP funds.

Federal Land Transportation Program (FLTP) set‐aside

As cycling becomes more popular on federal lands, we support a 5% set‐aside for bike and pedestrian infrastructure within the FLTP. This would help address the need for safer bicycling and walking on federal lands and would help to prioritize all modes of transportation, including those that are non‐motorized.

Increased funding for safety data

There is a lack of safety data for cyclists. We support expanding data to include injuries as well as fatalities to help with safety planning and prioritizing infrastructure.

This was a tremendous experience! From the chance to connect and network with lady bosses across the bike industry, to the chance to meet our elected officials and their staff members in person, to the chance to really sit down and think about, and articulate, what we are asking for on behalf of the cycling advocacy world, this was a priceless and valuable experience!  As someone who represents injured bicyclists, and who is always advocating for safer cycling and better/more infrastructure for cycling, I felt like this trip was my first real opportunity to influence the people in our government who make those decisions.  It's one thing to preach to the choir, to rally for things online or on socials, but it's another thing entirely to board a plane and spend a few days meeting with decision-makers.  I truly believe it's on all of us to #dowhatyoucanwithwhatyouhavewhereyouare … and this trip was a wonderful chance for me to do JUST that.  I'm so grateful to PFB for this gratifying experience and hope to join in again soon! 

-Megan Hottman


Back home in Golden, I saw signs around town notifying residents of the Golden Transportation Planning meeting on 6/11/19. So, I made a point to attend - because truly, if we don’t vote, we don’t have a right to complain, and if we don’t show up, we don’t know how or where to voice our opinions.

Sure enough, the meeting was ripe with opportunities to weigh in on specific transportation issues and even to show how we’d vote with our hypothetical budget dollars. I took the opportunity to raise 3 specific issues/asks and to write extensive comments on my comment card.

My post on FB about the event sums up this experience:

In short, these 2 experiences reinforced/reminded me that we cannot sit around and gripe about the state of affairs in bike advocacy and bike safety if we are not willing to put our time, talents, money and energy into these causes. I encourage everyone who rides a bike, to find a way to get involved- from a local nonprofit or cycling organization, to a national organization like People for Bikes, to attending local committee and community meetings, to taking part in a PFB DC Fly-in … showing up is a big part of moving these conversations forward and it takes ALL of us to make a change.

Not just the “they” — it takes each of US.

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 ;) .