Education

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.

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.

Want to Change Your Commuting Habits? How about an E-Bike?

A Change of Heart

GUEST BLOG BY HUDSON LINDENBERGER

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Hudson Lindenberger is an award-winning writer and editor based in Boulder, Colorado. He believes that life is full of interesting stories, and his goal is to tell as many of them as possible. As a full-time freelance writer, he is always searching out and following interesting paths while maintaining a smile on his face. Hudson is the father of two adult daughters, an active outdoorsman, and an avid traveller. You can learn more by visiting http://hudsonlindenberger.com.

“You bought an electric bike?” My buddy cried out incredulously. “What’s next? You going to start wearing a beret and smoking cigarettes?” He sat back snickering over his beer looking dubiously at me. I can’t say that I blamed his attitude, just a little while ago I was him, I was the guy mocking people on electric assist bikes.

When I moved to Colorado two decades ago, I was like most new residents, the chance to get outside and into adventures was intoxicating. I first moved to Nederland—that funky, flaky town perched above Boulder. During my three years there, my closet swelled with day packs and hiking shoes as I explored the Front Range. Upon moving into Arvada, I found myself going on bigger trips. The tops of high peaks called, and overnight trips beckoned. Very quickly, I had a full array of camping gear. Like most Coloradans, my gear addiction had started.

My move into Boulder a decade ago really allowed me to dive deep into the outdoors. I started climbing, skiing, and trail running whenever possible, but my true passion became cycling. I became a spandex wearer and started to shave my legs. My garage became cluttered with bikes of all sizes for my family. There were cruiser bikes, mountain bikes, cyclocross bikes, and road bikes. Whenever possible, my wife and I would jump on our road bikes and roam the hillsides and flats surrounding my town.

I had become an avid cyclist, and I loved it. The effort of climbing hills and blasting down their backsides was wonderful. I could easily spend a few hours out with friends working up a sweat and having fun. But when I saw people zipping by on electric bikes, I would turn my nose up at them. “Fake riders, cheaters, earn your miles,” were just a few of the phrases that came out of my mouth.

When the chance for my wife and I to relocate to France popped up three years ago, we decided to go for it. It had been a dream of ours to live abroad, and we figured Lyon, France sounded like a great spot to try it. Pretty soon we boarded a plane with two large bags each, two road bikes in travelling cases, a dog, and a cat. There was no way we were going to the land of Le Tour without bringing our bikes.

Within days of our arriving, we were out exploring our new home on our road bikes. Living in the hilltop village of St Cyr au Mont D’Or just outside of Lyon proper, we had plenty of places to explore. The French cyclists embraced the crazy Americans and the drivers were courteous—not like here in the States. While we got used to the more relaxed lifestyle in France, we also started to notice that there were a lot of electric bikes around. The mailmen rode them to deliver the mail, old ladies rode them into town, commuters used them to get into and out of the city, and large groups of older men ripped through the trails on them.

Gradually, my attitude started to soften. My interest was piqued. When we took a trip to Copenhagen in the summer, my wife and I decided to rent ones while we were there. They actually have an electric bike share program throughout the city. It only took one day of exploring the city for me to be hooked, it was a blast. I remember thinking what was my problem with electric bikes? All around me I saw people commuting throughout the busy metropolis on bikes of all shapes and sizes, both electric and not. Instead of streets packed bumper to bumper with stinky smelly cars, there were bikes zipping up bike lanes, down alleyways, and on streets.

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When we left to head back home, I decided that I wanted to get an electric bike when we got back to Boulder. Sure, I had a good cruiser bike waiting here, but truth be told, I rarely rode it. In the summer it made me a sweaty mess, and in the winter I did not want to deal with the hassle of it. Instead, I did most of my commuting in town in my car. I had good intentions of riding it more, but just could not find the motivation to do it.

… Instead, I was another car clogging up the streets of Boulder.


As most residents of our state know a lot of people are moving here. In fact, only four states have had a higher percentage of growth since 2010. There are currently 5.7 million people living inside our borders with roughly another 75,000 arriving each year. It is phenomenal growth and one that is taxing our infrastructure. Roads are getting more crowded and are falling apart quicker. I used to be able to drive across Boulder at rush hour in 10-15 minutes when I moved here, now I am lucky to make it in 30 minutes. More cars lead to higher pollution levels, angrier people, and more accidents. Regardless of what our elected officials do, the reality is the system is slowly getting swamped.

But imagine if we could get more people riding bikes. Instead of adding to the congestion of heading to work, the gym, or grocery in their car, they hop on their bike. The latest statistics show that biking is growing. Last year, 47.5 million Americans said they rode a bike at least once a month, that is 12.4% of our population. Of those riders, almost 25% of them are adults between the ages of 30-49.

One way to encourage more people to bike is to improve the infrastructure and incentivize people to ride more. Electric bikes are perfectly poised to draw more people out of their cars and onto a bike. Look at China for example. In 2000, there were 300,000 electric bikes sold, by 2016 that number was up to 33 million a year. Across Asia, electric bike sales are soaring, and they are starting to quickly infiltrate Western Europe, the number two market for them. In America, they are just starting to appear in cities and towns, especially areas with high densities of young working adults looking for a way to break free of their cars.

Within days of buying my electric bike, I quickly changed my habits. I started jumping on it for any errands in town. Meeting people for a cup of coffee was a breeze and shopping for groceries became simple once I added on pannier bags. Best of all, whenever I arrived anywhere, I was not a sweaty mess that had to sit down and cool off before meeting anyone. My wife (she bought one too) would go out to dinner on them. If I wanted to have one more glass of wine, I might have it since I was not crawling behind the wheel of a car.

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When winter arrived, I would just toss on my windproof jacket and gloves and head out, provided the roads were clear of snow. I actually found myself monitoring the weather forecast to know if I could leave the car parked. My weight dropped, I felt great, and best of all, I could zip to anywhere in town often faster than I ever would have in a car. After six months, my bike’s odometer showed that I had logged almost 500 miles and close to 36 hours of ride time. That’s all entirely inside the city, time I would have been in my car. Plus, I still get out on my road and mountain bikes when the weather cooperates.

So, it’s safe to say that my attitude about electric bikes has changed. I have become an advocate of them. They could be one of the solutions to the problems that our state, country, and planet are dealing with. Transportation overcrowding and the subsequent issues that that causes. Electric bikes won’t solve everything, but they could help.

An additional note from Megan:

Last December I too joined the #ebike revolution and invested in a Stromer from my local bike shop (C3 Bike Shop in Golden). I LOVE riding this bike -I can run legitimate errands averaging over 15mph and not be exhausted or fatigued for my cycling training/intervals. I can ride in nice dress clothes and not break a sweat, arriving at my destination “put-together” instead of a hot sweaty mess.

In addition the extra “oomph” will make it possible for me to hook up my doggie-specific Burley (once the snow melts) and tow my 55# dog, Phoenix, in the back, while my other dog Ramsey runs alongside (or rides with her sister). This combined weight would not be feasible for me on a regular bike, but with an E-bike, #allthingsarepossible.

Comment below if you’ve got an ebike, tell us which one you got, and what you love about it!

Bike Crashes and Brain Injuries

A Collaborative Blog Post by Hottman Law Office and Colorado Concussion Clinic

My Own Experience

In May 2017, I was on a group charity ride. We had been riding together for three days at that point, and the group was dialed and very skilled.  As we rounded a bend at mile 90 of a 120-mile day, we were on a slight downhill going at a pretty good clip. Someone in front of me rolled over a stick that was just the right shape and size...it shot out from under their wheel and under my front wheel.  As I rode over it, my bike went out from under me as though I had ridden my road bike over a wet root. I went down before I knew what was happening and crashed hard. Two riders behind me crashed into me/landed on me.

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My bike broke in eight different places.  As I lay in the road, I had immediate pain to my lower back and, of course, plentiful road rash.  While my helmet showed damage from hitting the ground, I did not have head "pain,” but my neck did become very sore over the next few days.  I did not see a doctor right away or seek medical care, which was a huge mistake. My roommate on the trip pointed out that I was repeating certain things over and over to her.  I was incredibly emotional—crying easily and without provocation.

Instead of being smart by packing it up and going home to rest and recover, I used a neutral support bike to do the last day—a 90-mile ride into the heart of downtown Manhattan, NYC.  The only thing on me that was mine was my sunglasses and shoes—everything else was new/borrowed. I willed myself through the ride feeling not at all like myself, pretty out of my head, and in a great deal of pain.  

Once home, I noticed I could not muscle my way through work, emails, or my daily agenda.  My head felt tired. I wanted to sleep and avoid bright lights. My mental endurance would wear out midmorning. I also noticed on short, easy bike rides that I would "bonk" mentally—similar to the sensation we have all experienced when we do not eat enough calories on a hard bike ride.  Except I was feeling this often and after very easy effort. My first real road ride post-crash stands out. I was still healing up the road rash, my low back still really hurt, but I felt I was ready to ride with friends. On a very fast downhill, my rear wheel rolled over something that caused an immediate and fast flat tire.  I braked carefully but in a very panicked way as the thought of going down again was more than I could bear. I became a sobbing mess and told the group I was riding back home. I cried most of the way and could not get control of myself. When I turned around to see that they had been following me at a distance (worried about me as good friends do), I really fell apart.  

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I never saw a neurologist or doctor for my head issues and really wish I would have.  Since I pushed so hard to get back to work and riding so soon, I felt the delay of my symptoms for many months.  I did not feel totally like myself again until that November or December. Had I rested, I am sure it would not have taken so long.  

In addition, five weeks after the crash when my low back was still hurting so badly, I was having trouble walking, so I saw a doctor and got an MRI.  This is when we learned that I had fractured my sacrum, the bone on the back of my pelvis. I had also torn the labrum in my right hip. Given the nature and extent of these injuries, there is no doubt in my mind that I had suffered head trauma which impacted me for many months.

As a result of my personal experience, all of the emerging literature out there on concussions, as well as the experiences we have had with clients, (who both have and have not received care for their head injuries), we recommend all of our clients seek help for head trauma as soon as possible after they have been hit by a car.  Too often adrenaline protects us for awhile, and then the ER focuses on orthopedic injuries, and the trauma to our brains goes unnoticed/unaddressed.  That is why we will suggest everyone take the Symptom and Symptom Scale Questionnaires provided by Colorado Concussion Clinic (buttons below) and encourage you to read Sarah Brittain’s article for valuable information on concussions.

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Why Concussion Care Matters

Sarah Brittain runs Colorado Concussion Clinic, a venture created to fulfill a need for evidence-based comprehensive concussion care.  Sarah has a Master's Degree in Communication Science Disorders from the MGH Institute of Health Professions. Her clinical work has focused on treating clients’ cognitive deficits secondary to acquired brain injuries. For more information, visit www.healmyconcussion.com.

Any orthopedist will tell you that a broken arm requires four to six weeks in a cast to heal. Heart surgeons give their cardiac patients six weeks to begin to feel better and up to six months to feel the full benefits of the surgery. According to many professionals, an injury to the brain, our most complex organ, should take ten days.

I hope you can appreciate the absurdity of the ten-day timeline given above. I will absolutely concede that a number of people with concussive injuries heal within that ten-day time frame, and that is certainly the hope, but many do not. Symptoms that persist beyond ten days should be addressed by trained professionals to maximize recovery. Early treatment is key for better outcomes.

A common misconception of concussion (a term now synonymous with mild traumatic brain injury - “MTBI”) is that complete rest leads to recovery—a recommendation not based on current scientific data. In fact, research actually shows that complete rest beyond the first 24-48 hours is detrimental to healing. Research shows that moderate activity is imperative to healing from concussion. There is, however, a caveat: too much activity can set you back in your recovery.

Let me take a step back here. What is a concussion? What are the signs and symptoms? The following definition is taken from the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine:

A patient with mild traumatic brain injury (aka concussion) is a person who has had a traumatically induced physiological disruption of brain function, as manifested by at least one of the following: 1. any period of loss of consciousness; 2. any loss of memory for events immediately before or after the accident; 3. any alteration in mental state at the time of the accident (e.g. feeling dazed, disoriented, or confused); and 4. focal neurological deficit(s) that may or may not be transient; but where the severity of the injury does not exceed the following:

• loss of consciousness of approximately 30 minutes or less;

• after 30 minutes, an initial Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) of 13–15; and

• posttraumatic amnesia (PTA) not greater than 24 hours.

In layman's terms, if you don't “feel right” or you feel “out of it”, you likely sustained a concussion. It is important to note that nowhere in the definition does it say you had to have a direct blow to the head. In fact, quite the opposite is true. You can sustain a concussion without hitting your head.

Below are some of the most common real world signs and symptoms of concussion, grouped into the following categories: physical, cognitive, emotional, and sleep.

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Alright, so you think you have a concussion. Now that you know you probably should not rest and avoid everything, what should you do? Like I said, a percentage of the concussion population will recover within ten days. If you are one of those people, that is great. You can likely resume your activities, although you should take care to avoid hitting your head again. But if that is not the case, please read on.

I equate concussion treatment to early intervention for school children. Any child that is struggling with learning to read will get some intervention (in most schools), because it is unclear if the child will eventually catch up with his or her peers, or fall further and further behind. Investing time and therapy in early intervention has been shown to lead to better outcomes compared to those who took the “wait and see” approach.

The same is true of concussion. Early intervention goes a long way and the evidence is beginning to show it reduces the chances of having persistent post-concussive syndrome.

What might this intervention look like? Well, it depends on who you are and what your symptoms are. Are you an athlete now having trouble with dizziness and balance? Let's sign you up for some vestibular physical therapy. Are you having trouble at work and keeping up with tasks? A good cognitive therapist can help you with that. The list goes on and on. There are skilled treatments for each of these issues.

Words of caution: With concussion being a hot topic today, many health practitioners are quick to say, “Oh yeah, I can fix that!” Buyer beware—Just as you wouldn’t trust your mechanic to fix both your car and your dishwasher simply because they are both machines, you probably do not want your physical therapist who is treating your shoulder injury to treat your vestibular issues. Physicians and therapists in concussion rehabilitation are specialists, and you may need a team of these experts to get fully better. Do your due diligence and research your providers, and do not be afraid to ask questions! Is there research and are providers using evidence-based practice? If not, then it is likely too good to be true.

Concussions are a serious injury and not something to be ignored. Early treatment is key for improved outcomes and reducing the risk of developing persistent post concussive symptoms. Don’t sit at home in a dark room for days...be proactive in your recovery!

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.


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.