cycling

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. 

Colorado's New Stop-As-Yield Legislation

By Megan & Maureen: 

SB18-144

Bicycle Operation Approaching Intersection

Concerning the regulation of bicycles approaching intersections.

On May 3, 2018, Colorado Governor Hickenlooper signed into law SB144, or what’s commonly referred to as the Idaho stop, also known as a safety or rolling stop or “stop as yield.” In effect in Idaho since 1982, the law allows cyclists to treat a stop sign like a yield sign and a red light like a stop sign. In 2017, Delaware adopted a limited stop as yield law.

Interestingly, the new Colorado law isn’t actually a state law – it’s recommended language, which each individual city or county may now adopt at its option.

C.R.S § 42-4-1412.5 provides a statewide standard on the regulation of bicycles approaching intersections which local governments can choose to implement:  Idaho stops were already legal in Aspen, Breckenridge and Dillon, as well as Summit County, prior to the passage of this new law.

(1) At intersections with stop signs, a cyclist should slow “to a reasonable speed and yield the right-of-way to any traffic or pedestrian in or approaching the intersection.” The cyclist may then turn or go through the intersection without stopping.

A reasonable speed is considered 15 mph or less. Local governments may reduce or increase the reasonable speed but will be required to post signs at intersections stating the lower or higher speed limitations.

(2) At red traffic lights, cyclists are required to completely stop and yield to traffic and pedestrians. Once the cyclist has yielded, they may “cautiously proceed in the same direction through the intersection or make a right-hand turn. A cyclist may not go through the intersection at a red light if an oncoming vehicle is turning or preparing to turn left in front of the person.”

The law further states that a cyclist may only make a left-hand turn at a red traffic light if turning onto a one-way street. The cyclist must stop and then yield to traffic and pedestrians before turning left. NOTE: It is not legal for a cyclist to make a left-hand turn onto a two-lane road (one lane in each direction) at an intersection with a red traffic light.

This law does not give cyclists the right to blow through intersections: they still have to yield. 

Megan Hottman (@cyclist_lawyer) on Instagram: "Round 2 filming bike safety/motorist awareness #PSA videos today with the #bikeambassadors and..."

(Example see video at right: our friend Katie running a stop sign (part of a cycling video series the City of Golden is making-don't worry, this was a controlled intersection!)

At all other times, cyclists must comply with the rules set forth in CRS §42-4-1412 and 42-4-221 regarding the operation of bicycles and other human-powered vehicles.

The main argument for the Idaho stop appears to be that it increases safety for cyclists.  Senator Andy Kerr, who authored Senate Bill 18-144, is a cyclist himself. He maintains that the most dangerous time for a cyclist is when they are stopped at an intersection.  Colorado’s local bicycle advocacy group, Bicycle Colorado, was also strongly in favor of this new rule and was actively involved in its passage.

If a cyclist is not waiting at an intersection, they are less likely to be hit by a car. The faster they can get through the intersection and out of the way of motorists, the better. Additionally, when a cyclist can proceed through an intersection and get out in front of traffic, there is less chance of getting hit by a vehicle making a right-hand turn.

A study by Jason Meggs titled ‘Bicycle Safety and Choice: Compounded Public Cobenefits of the Idaho Law Relaxing Stop Requirements for Cycling’ found that a year after the Idaho stop law was implemented, cyclist injuries declined by 14.5 percent in Idaho. Meggs further stated that there is no evidence that fatalities increased as a result of the adoption of the law in Idaho.

“I'm an ‘Idaho Stopper’ who approves this change in traffic laws that favors cyclists. As a threatened road user group, cyclists need the added protection of bike-specific laws that promote safer cycling like the Idaho stop and 3-foot passing.” (Richard H.)

Another argument in favor of the law is that it legalizes what most people already do. A study by DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development found that only about 1 in 25 cyclists come to a complete stop at stop signs. Two out of three cyclists go through red lights when there's no cross traffic. (See also- CU Study).

The most prevalent response as to why cyclists break the rules of the road was “personal safety,” with more than 71 percent of respondents citing that as a reason. Saving energy came in second for bicyclists (56 percent) followed by saving time (50 percent). Increasing one’s visibility was the fourth-most-cited response (47 percent) for bicyclists breaking the law. The authors noted that an overwhelming majority of bicyclists break the rules, but suggested they did so in situations where little harm would come to themselves or others.
— Aaron Johnson, a PhD student in sociology at CU Boulder : https://www.colorado.edu/asmagazine/2017/08/04/biking-bad

It has also been argued that it takes significant energy for a cyclist to start again after having to stop at stop signs/traffic signals.  The DePaul study suggests that “when cyclists sense there are no immediate safety risks, their desire to maintain forward momentum and conserve energy almost always exceeds their desire to strictly adhere to traffic laws.”

We solicited comments and feedback via our Facebook page and share below, some of the varying thoughts we received:

“I think it's a good thing for cyclists, codifying what a lot of people, frankly, were doing anyway. It doesn't absolve cyclists of a responsibility to ride safely, but just acknowledges the realities of bike riding.” (Brandon R.)

The new law could also improve the flow of traffic and reduce congestion by getting cyclists and motorists through intersections more quickly.

Another argument: traffic signs and signals were not created with cyclists in mind. Cyclists often have to wait at traffic lights until a motor vehicle triggers a sensor to change the light: 

“I approve of this, especially the red stop light law. So many times I come across stupid stop lights that won't change unless they detect a car. This will allow cyclists to proceed without fear of a ticket.” (Kerry N.)

Not everyone is in favor of the new law. Opponents argue that bicyclists should follow the same rules as motorists. They further maintain that bicyclist behavior will be even more unpredictable and dangerous:

“All users of the road have to abide by the same set of rules. Confusion will abound and accidents will occur.” (TJ R.)

Many worry that the new law should be implemented statewide and will lead to confusion for both drivers and cyclists since counties and municipalities can decide whether to adopt the law:

“The opt-in aspect is disappointing and will create significant confusion for motorists, cyclists, and law-enforcement. Imagine if Denver opts-in but Lakewood does not. So east of Sheridan you can use the Idaho stop, but west of Sheridan doing so will get you a ticket. Someone driving through Lakewood who sees a cyclist getting a ticket for rolling a stop sign will assume that behavior is not permitted anywhere. So when a cyclist does it in front of them in Denver, they're going to get angry and annoyed at the cyclist for (incorrectly) believing the cyclist is breaking the law. While I understand the need to add that piece in order to make the legislation palatable for the state legislature to pass it, the inability to have a uniform law that would improve cyclist safety is disappointing.” (Kathryn W.)

Some suggest that the law may create even more tension between motorists and cyclists:

“As a cyclist, I think it makes a lot of sense, but motorists aren't likely to see it that way. So, if widely used, I think it is going to inflame the notion that cyclists are an elite group who believe ‘the rules don't apply to them’ (because many motorists will be either unaware of the change or just dislike it). I also think you are safest on a bike on the road when you do predictable things - meaning that you act like a car. When you move in between being-like-a-car and following some pattern that drivers aren't used to, that is when people make mistakes because something happens they weren't expecting.” (Greg M.)

IMG_2695.jpg

We ran an informal poll of Golden-area cyclists to ask them if they were in favor of this rule, or opposed to it.  While some who live out of city limits did accidentally vote, the overwhelming majority voted in favor.

 

 

 

 

 

Moving forward, the challenge will now be to educate motorists, cyclists and law enforcement about the new law – if, and when, cities and counties decide to adopt it.  As of now, cyclists must still stop at stop signs and red lights until this language is adopted in their jurisdictions. And of course a cyclist always has the option to remain stopped at the red light until it turns green.  

We'd love your feedback/comments- what do you think about your local city or county adopting this legislation?  If you have a strong opinion, we recommend you let your local city council members know -chances are, they are debating this very issue right now! 

When Cyclists Get Doored

By Megan & Maureen

Cyclists riding beside parked motor vehicles, whether in bike lanes or on roadways, are at serious risk of being “doored.” Dooring collisions happen when a driver or passenger opens a car door directly into a bicyclist’s line of travel.

As most states legally require a cyclist to ride as far to the right as practicable or as judged safe by the bicyclist, this often puts them directly in harm’s way, because they are riding in the door zone: the space taken up by the open door of a vehicle.

cyclist in bike lane.JPG

The bicyclist has no time to react and collides with the open car door. Sometimes, a cyclist may swerve into traffic to avoid running into a car door and, in the worst case, ends up being hit by an oncoming vehicle.

Dooring often occurs in urban, downtown areas where cars are parallel parked and where high levels of traffic and narrow lanes exist. Passengers getting out of taxi cabs, cars or ride-shares often open their doors without looking, which requires a bicyclist to be hyper-alert when riding in the door zone.

However, the law in every state instructs that a driver shall exercise caution when opening their door to exit their vehicle and shall check for overtaking traffic.  C.R.S. § 42-4-1207 - Opening and closing vehicle doors - states that “No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic; nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers. Any person who violates any provision of this section commits a class B traffic infraction.”

Forty states have dooring laws. The ten states that do not are: Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia

Downtown Denver – Taxi Cab Blocking Bike Lane

Downtown Denver – Taxi Cab Blocking Bike Lane

While bike lanes are meant to make bicycling safer and to protect bicyclists from being involved in a motor vehicle collision, they do increase the chance of bicyclists being involved in a dooring crash.

Often, cars are illegally parked in bike lanes. Bicyclists are forced to navigate around the car or pay special attention to cars entering/leaving the lane. In some cases, the lane on the far right has been designated as both a bike lane as well as a parking lane.

Recently, we represented a client who lost a finger due to a dooring crash.  Our client was riding in the bike lane in Boulder.  The bike lane was positioned between car traffic lanes to her left and parked cars along the curb to her right.  She was smartly scanning the backs of car windows and checking side mirrors to look for any drivers in vehicles who might be exiting their vehicle.  As she approached a limo, she noted the windows were tinted.  She also saw what appeared to be the driver of the limo, leaning against the passenger side of the limo.  She dismissed the limo as a threat until suddenly without warning, the driver threw his door open to exit the vehicle.  Our client attempted to swerve to avoid the car door (knowing that she had overtaking vehicle traffic to her left) and as she did so, the ring on her right hand finger caught on the door handle of the limo. 

As her treatment evolved, she underwent numerous surgeries to try and lessen the nerve pain she was experiencing in her hand.  After all possible remedies were attempted, she had no choice but to have her middle finger amputated to stop the incessant and overwhelming pain in her hand. 

Of course, the insurance company for the driver attempted to paint this event as the cyclist’s fault – while acknowledging she was appropriately in the bike lane, and she was riding uphill at a slow pace, doing everything correctly, legally, and prudently -- they still tried to pin blame on her for somehow failing to avoid the opening door, or failing to steer around it.  Eventually, we obtained a very large settlement on her behalf, but it was only after lengthy litigation, at mediation which was a few months before trial.  Sadly, our client is now left permanently impaired by the loss of her finger, which impacted her ability to ride and race her bike, to swim (which was her lifelong sport and passion) and to compete in triathlon, which she loved.

We have heard other stories of drivers opening their door as a cyclist was riding by, causing the cyclist to crash into the inside of the driver door – one such story involved the cyclist being impaled by part of the handlebars because of the sudden and complete stop caused by impacting the non-moving/open car door. 

These types of collisions can be very serious and possibly deadly.  The real problem is that driver-side car doors are often RIGHT into or next to, the very bike lane built to protect cyclists! 

Protected Bike Lane in Downtown Denver

Protected Bike Lane in Downtown Denver

Ed Beighe of azbikelaw.org - a site dedicated to cycling, traffic safety, traffic justice and legal topics - reports that a bike lane in Durham, New Hampshire was actually removed after the death of a cyclist due to a dooring collision. Read more here.

Now – cyclists should note that in most states, there is no legal requirement that they must ride in the bike lane simply because a bike lane is present.  It is recommended, but not mandatory.  This means that if the cyclist judges it unsafe to ride in the bike lane next to parked cars, the cyclist can move left out of the bike lane and take the traffic lane. 

bike lane.JPG

What should drivers and passengers do?

·      Look in the rearview and side mirrors before opening the car door slowly and with caution.

·      Open the vehicle door with the arm furthest from the door. This allows the body to turn and check for bicyclists over the shoulder before exiting the car. This is referred to as the “Dutch Reach.”

·      Open the door a little and look back up the road for bikes and other vehicles.

Image courtesy of Bikeyface, www.bikeyface.com

Image courtesy of Bikeyface, www.bikeyface.com

10 Things I wish I Knew: a Guest Post

10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Cycling

Guest Blog by Tim McAndrew

1.     A good bike fit is worth every penny. Having the wrong set up, even if it’s only off by a few millimeters, can make riding a misery, particularly on longer rides, and can lead to chronic injury and pain. So do yourself a favor: spend the $150-200 to get a proper bike fitting from a reputable bike shop -- your body will thank you later.

2.     Unclip early. Until you master unclipping from your pedals thoughtlessly, a tip that will serve you well is to unclip a foot before you even apply the brakes. This simple exercise will train your brain appropriately and will hopefully keep you from falling straight over at a crowded intersection (and bruising both your body and your dignity).

3.     Bonking sucks. If you’re heading out for a 1-2 hour ride, typically you won’t need to bring any food -- a 16-20oz bottle of water will do you right. However, go out for any longer and you’re going to need to bring along some fuel. This is a lesson you don’t want to learn the hard way because bonking sucks! A good rule for new riders is 100 calories for each 20 mins on the bike. And get into the habit of always bringing a little more than you think you’ll need -- sometimes your body just demands a little more fuel than normal. Worst case is you’ll be the Eagle Scout of your group ride and be able to feed the one dude who forgot to pack enough fuel that day. 

4.     Speaking of Eagle Scouts. Unless you live in a climate where any type/amount of rain will bring utter joy and relief, pack yourself a rain jacket or vest. This is especially true if you’re riding in the mountains or in a damp environment like the UK or the Northwest US. Being able to cover your chest when the rain/temperature falls will protect you from losing critically valuable heat and energy. It will also make the ride significantly less stressful and more enjoyable.

5.     Spend $40 on a chain every 1500 miles. The last thing you want to hear your local wrench say is: “dude, you're gonna need a new chain ring and cassette.” Typically this happens because you’ve ridden with the same chain for so long that it’s stretched and carved shark teeth into those components. By swapping out your chain every 1500 miles or so, you’ll extend the life of your drivetrain by years, save yourself a lot of money, and save a lot of unnecessary time your bike needs to spend in the shop.

6.     Rinse. Lube. Repeat. Like looking after your drivetrain, get in the habit of always wiping down your bike, and especially your chain, after a ride -- it will extend the life of your bike and its parts. For your chain, wipe it down with a lint-free cloth, apply fresh lube, and then wipe off the excess. This will keep your chain shifting smoothly and keep you from being the annoying squeaky wheel on your next group ride.

7.     Group ride etiquette part I: Steady as she goes. When you’re out for a ride with more than yourself, there are some generally accepted group riding rules to follow. The first of these (you can read more here) is that everyone is expected to take a turn at the front, even if it's for a short "pull." When it is your turn, fight back the urge to show everyone how strong you are. Instead, do your best to ride at the same tempo / speed you were riding when you were in the pack. This is especially true if your turn at the front starts at the base of a climb – dropping your friends like this will put you in the doghouse. So, pay attention to your speedometer while you're in the pack and then try to hold that speed steady when it's your turn at the front. Master this skill and you’ll be looked at as a seasoned rider and avoid the bitter scorn and curses of your riding buddies.

8.     Group ride etiquette part II: Point out the shit. Another responsibility when you’re on the front is to point out the hazards in the road to those behind you. This includes rocks, potholes, sticks, debris, gravel, etc.  The way to be a pro at this is by concentrating on what’s ahead of you so you see it early, can gracefully maneuver your bike away from it, and simultaneously use the hand that’s closest to the obstacle to point it out. If you ride alone a lot and only do group rides occasionally you’re going to have to concentrate to remember your role here. And remember, if someone ahead points something out, you too should repeat the gesture so those behind you can avoid the obstacle.

9.     Know Thine Categories. Even if you don't race, understanding the very basics of racing categories helps understanding when others are talking about racing. Someone who races Men's Cat5 or Women's Cat4 is a beginner. This is where ALL racers start. Typically you cannot race at any higher category, regardless of how talented or gifted you are as a racer, without having earned your stripes in the beginner's ranks. Here’s where you learn how to ride in very close proximity to others, get a feel for how a group ebbs and flows, learn the importance of holding a line, and hopefully how to avoid the inevitable crashes that occur. Once you’ve done your time and/or start crushing the field, you’ll be upgrade to Cat4 (Cat3 for women). And from there you begin the march up the ranks until you reach your maximum potential. Who knows, maybe you’re a Cat1 Pro and you don't even know it.

10.  Turn off the Computer. Bike computers are great. They're very useful tools for gauging speed, distance, output, etc. But it's easy to get sucked into becoming a slave to the output from your bike computer, especially with apps like Strava and Training Peaks egging you on. Do yourself a favor, and occasionally turn off the computer and just get on your bike and go for a ride. This can be harder than it sounds when you’ve become a “slave to the device” but when you make the effort to do it, you’ll be rewarded with the joys of why you probably started riding a bike in the first place. So soak it up. Enjoy the scenery. Stop and take a picture. Do whatever it is that makes you one with the bike and revel in it!

... Speaking of pictures, here are some shots of our Century + Triple Bypass (replacement) Ride last Saturday - seriously, you CANNOT argue with the scenery, fun, friendship and memories that long rides with friends provide! (Photo Credit: Megan Hottman, Austin Sholly, Tim McAndrew).

2Abreast & Sharrows

We received another great question from a local bike educator about riding 2 abreast and sharrows! 

(Photo used with permission by the folks over at Bike Fort Collins -check out their cool test  here ).

(Photo used with permission by the folks over at Bike Fort Collins -check out their cool test here).

_______________________________________________________________________________

"The issue was a motorist had an interaction with two people who were riding double wide on a road with two lanes going in the same direction.  The cyclists were in the right-most lane and there was a sharrow on the roadway in the lane where the cyclists were riding two abreast.  The motorist pulled over to have a discussion with the people on bikes because the motorist thought it was against the law for the cyclists to ride two abreast on the roadway (they were impeding traffic in one lane).  The cyclists said to the motorist that their interpretation of the law was that it was legal for them to ride two abreast and impede traffic for the narrow stretch because a sharrow was present.  In the area where the cyclists were riding, an individual cyclist would likely need to take the lane regardless.  Does riding two abreast in that scenario constitute something lawful or illegal?  An individual cyclist would likely need to impede traffic for a period in order to pass through the area that was too narrow to share with a motor vehicle.  In addition,  does the presence of the sharrow have any legal implications?  Does it indicate that riding two abreast for a stretch of road is legal?"

_______________________________________________________________________________

First, please refer to my previous blog post about riding 2abreast, generally.  

Second, let's talk about what a sharrow is and what it means! 

Wikipedia defines a shared-lane marking or sharrow as a street marking installed at locations in Australia, Canada, Spain, or the United States. This marking is placed in the travel lane to indicate where people should preferably cycle.

The US Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices says shared-lane markings may be used to:

A. Assist cyclists with lateral positioning in a shared lane with on-street parallel parking in order to reduce the chance of a bicyclist impacting the open door of a parked vehicle;

B. Assist cyclists with lateral positioning in lanes that are too narrow for a motor vehicle and a bicycle to travel side by side within the same traffic lane;

C. Alert motorists of the lateral location bicyclists are likely to occupy within the traveled way;

D. Encourage safe passing of bicyclists by motorists; and

E. Reduce the incidence of wrong-way bicycling.

See also, NACTO's discussion of when and where sharrows should be used.  (NACTO is a non-profit association that represents large cities on transportation issues of local, regional and national significance).

Third- so does the presence of a SHARROW indicate cyclists may ride 2 abreast, if it (as (b) above indicates), demonstrates that the lane is too narrow to share with a car? 

Short answer: no.  A SHARROW is painted on the roadway - but it is not a separate facility or "built for the exclusive use of bicycles" as a bike lane or bike path would be.

C.R.S. 42-4-1412 refresher:

(6)(a) Persons riding bicycles or electrical assisted bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.

 (b) Persons riding bicycles or electrical assisted bicycles two abreast shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic and, on a laned roadway, shall ride within a single lane.

 So then -other than alerting motorists that the roadway is too narrow to share and that they may encounter a bicyclist riding in the center of the lane, what else is important to know about sharrows? 

Well -they change the liability analysis on the part of the city or municipality that installed them.  (See Boub V. Township of Wayne for further discussion on the issue of "permitted/intended users of the road" discussion.

Conclusion:

Although a sharrow serves to alert motorists that a cyclist may be in the middle of the traffic lane (basically just painting the law that a lane too narrow to share means the cyclist may take the lane), it does not change the analysis of WHEN cyclists may ride 2-abreast in a roadway in Colorado.   

With regard to the specific question posed above, it is unclear whether the 2 riders were "impeding traffic" or not -we don't have enough info to answer that.  If there was just one motorist behind them who was inconvenienced, the answer would likely be no, they were not impeding traffic.  

 

 

Badges on Wheels event was a HIT!

Last Friday we hosted approximately 15 law enforcement officers from various entities along the front range.  We began with a presentation of Colorado statutes and city ordinances that affect cycling on public roads, and I used specific case examples that I've handled as actual real world evidence of the problems that can arise when laws are not correctly interpreted or enforced.  After our morning session all of the participants took to the open roads in 3 group rides: beginner, intermediate and veteran.  Everyone had a blast, especially those who took advantage of the Cannondale demo fleet!  

After the ride we enjoyed some healthy lunches from Mad Greens, we raffled off some prizes and we wrapped up the silent auction for items donated to raise money for the Police Unity Tour.  We also got to hear from some of the PUT riders and hopefully we recruited new riders for the 2015 tour!

Overall we had a wonderful time and received very positive feedback.  This will certainly be an annual tradition moving forward!  Many thanks to all of the officers who took part! 

Here are some of our favorite photos of the event:

 

Over the Top Radio

"Pro-Peloton hosted Megan Hottman and Julie Emmerman on Over the Top Radio with George Thomas, to dissect the human side of their careers within the realm of cycling. Listen in to hear how these amazing ladies handle the similar topics of compartmentalizing, stress-release, self-sabotage and establishing trust with clients."

More Fitness Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Over The Top on BlogTalkRadio with Over The Top on BlogTalkRadio

(Originally posted on 303cycling.com on Dec 18, 2013)