bike advocate

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!

 

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.