Advocacy

Is Lane Splitting Unlawful?

Is Lane Splitting Unlawful?

By Maureen & Megan

No matter who you ask, it’s a controversial practice! Motorcyclists say it’s safer than sitting in traffic and eases traffic congestion. Cyclists maintain that it gets them ahead of traffic at intersections so they can be more visible to cars. Motorists argue that it’s dangerous and risky.

Lane splitting, also referred to as stripe riding or white lining, is the practice of riding a bicycle, motorcycle or any other two-wheeled vehicle between rows of slow-moving traffic driving in the same direction. Lane filtering refers to riding between lanes going in the same direction in stopped traffic. 

California is currently the only state that allows motorcycle lane splitting. 

So, what does this mean for cyclists? We received the following inquiry from a cyclist about lane splitting/filtering:

‘Is any part of the CO Law applicable to lane filtering or splitting? 

For example, is it legal for a cyclist to ride between stopped traffic in their lane and parked cars on the right or to ride between two lanes of stopped traffic?”

There is no statute in Colorado that specifically prohibits cyclists from lane splitting or lane filtering; however, the conclusion has always been that since it’s not legal for motorcyclists, cyclists should not do it either.

Furthermore, a cyclist has the same rights and duties as the driver of any other vehicle, so they should follow the same rules when it comes to overtaking and passing another vehicle on the left or right.

"The law says you cannot overtake a vehicle traveling in the same lane and direction, with certain exceptions.  Lane splitting has two major concerns.  #1) as cyclists, the law requires you be given 3-feet when being passed.  Should it not be the same for a cyclist passing a motor vehicle?  #2) we already have a problem in Colorado with motorists not expecting cyclists to be where they have the right to be (think right-hook turns). The concern is if lane splitting is permitted, how many accidents and incidents of road rage will we have until the motoring public comes to terms with this mentally and in their driving behavior?" says Frank Barr, Police Officer for the City of Golden.  

Chances are, if a cyclist chooses to pass between lanes of cars, or pass up the right side (where there is no bike lane), if a collision occurred- for example, if a car in the right lane suddenly decided to make a right turn having no idea a cyclist has pulled up alongside them, the cyclist will be found at fault, or half-at-fault.  Anytime a cyclist does something to deprive themselves of the 3-foot buffer- like pulling alongside the right side of stopped cars, between the car and a curb, if a collision occurs, the cyclist is going to share some blame.  

Consider the following scenarios that could cause a cyclist serious injury or death if lane splitting or filtering forward:

  • Cyclist is riding between two lanes of moving traffic when a motorist switches lanes unexpectedly and crashes into the cyclist
  • Cyclist gets doored when riding between traffic lanes when a passenger opens car door to exit vehicle
  • Cyclist stops on the passenger side of the vehicle in the driver’s blind spot and is right-hooked by a turning vehicle at an intersection after filtering forward

When approaching an intersection, it is recommended that a cyclist takes the lane instead of lane splitting or filtering forward. League Certified Instructor Gary Harty prefers to take the lane and wait his turn at stop lights especially if there are only two or three cars ahead of him. “I don’t like to go ahead of the first car because I may not be visible and would be setting myself up for being right hooked,” he says. 

Harty prefers to control his lane when turning left. If he is going straight, he will position himself next to the white line, either left or right of the line, the side with the least amount of traffic. “I understand both sides are legal and defend against right hooks. If traffic is slow I would like to control the thru lane.”

Cutting through traffic with rows of cars on both sides doesn’t give a cyclist adequate space either, especially considering that motorists have to give cyclists three-feet when passing. 

  Denver has 130 miles of bike lanes

Denver has 130 miles of bike lanes

“In a perfect world, you would have a minimum of four feet between you and parked cars on your right to prevent being doored and another three feet on your left between you and the projections of the moving vehicles on your left.  If you give yourself three feet in which you occupy space, this is a total of ten feet minimum between parked cars and the moving traffic lane.  I can’t think of any place in this area where that space exists.  Our bicycle infrastructure has not reached that level yet. Therefore, if a cyclist is going to ride into that space that is much less than ten feet, there is a great deal of risk involved and potentially a conflict with CRS that states you should pass slower vehicles on the left,” says Harty.

As bicycling becomes more of an accepted form of transportation across the country, cities are working to make improvements to bicycling infrastructure. According to its website , the City of Denver has:

  • more than 100 miles of multi-use trails.
  • 130 miles of bike lanes.
  • 39 miles of sharrows, and almost 400 miles of signed bike routes. 

Denver’s Bicycle Program is improving on-street facilities and creating connections between Denver's neighborhoods and destinations. Bicycle traffic signals, green pavement marking, designated bike lanes, bikeways, buffered lanes and green bike boxes are being installed around the city.

  Green pavement markings in Denver notifying motorists of the presence of bicyclists

Green pavement markings in Denver notifying motorists of the presence of bicyclists

Bike boxes and bike lanes make it possible for cyclists to avoid lane splitting/filtering to get ahead of vehicles at intersections. Cyclists position themselves ahead of cars in the bike box and have priority to move into the intersection when the light turns green. Motorists must wait behind the green bike box at the white stop line. This gives cyclists priority to move through the intersection.

  Bike box at 11  th   and Speer in Denver

Bike box at 11th and Speer in Denver

People for Bikes has been working hard to add these green lanes and boxes with their “green lane” projects- which provide funding to cities to make it possible for the addition of this infrastructure.  These lanes and the bright green paint make it much safer for cyclists and allow them to move to the front of an intersection legally.  (Read more here: https://peopleforbikes.org/green-lane-project/).

 

Expanding and improving bicycling infrastructure to make bicycling more accessible and safe will take time. In the meantime, use caution when you are cycling and don’t put yourself in a situation where splitting the lane or filtering forward could result in injury.

#10000milesin2018: Month Five Update!

Total Miles to Date: Target: 4166 miles. . . My mileage: 4204  (WOOHOO!!)

Goal by end of June/halfway through 2018 = 5,000!

Total Number of Strava Group Members: 295

This month we would like to feature Tom A. from Longmont, CO, one of the #10kin2018 members. I ran into Tom, a former client, and his wife while out on a ride over the weekend.

Current Mileage: 4,202

How long have you been a cyclist?

I have enjoyed cycling in one form or another most of my life.  My wife, Nanette, and I started using cycling for fitness about 10 years ago.  At the urging of friends, I purchased a modern road bike in 2012. 

The road bikes have opened up so many new opportunities to ride and meet new people.

How did you find out about the challenge?

Megan_Nanette_Tom.jpg

I believe I first heard about Megan's 10,000 mile challenge from her Twitter feed.  It sounded crazy. I hesitated, but then decided I would go for it in order to get in shape for summer.

Good weather and good health this spring allowed me to get a good jumpstart on the goal.

Why did you decide to join the challenge?

The Strava 10K mile in 2018 challenge came at a good time for me.  It provided additional incentive to get our there and get in shape for the Ride the Rockies this June. 

How have you incorporated commuting by bike/getting in the miles for the challenge into your daily life?

Nanette and I have worked the bike rides into our daily lives.  We ride for short errands, shopping and to meet ups with our daughters & grandsons. 

I end up with a lot of short mileage rides.  I commute to work when the roads are dry. I take a lunch ride with friends whenever I can.

What are the benefits to riding your bike/joining the challenge?

I find starting the day with a bike ride to work kick starts my brain activity! I really miss it when I am unable to get my morning ride.

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! 

Police Unity Tour- recap in photos

What a week, riding bikes alongside our Colorado (and nation's) law enforcement officers!  It was a WONDERFUL way to celebrate my birthday, but more importantly, to honor those who've made the ultimate sacrifice.  I cannot say enough about how positive this experience was! 

#10000milesin2018: Month four

#10000milesin2018: Month Four Update!

Total Miles to Date: Target: 3288 miles. Current mileage: 3122. 

How is your mileage goal coming along so far?

Here’s how some of our 10,000 Miles in 2018 members are doing:

-Phil I. (Sutton Coldfield, England): Currently slightly behind, just over 2,500 miles ridden; however, mileage will start to increase now, as weather (hopefully) improves & ‘Chase the Sun’ training kicks up several levels...

-Carl A. (Wilmington, North Carolina): Ahead of schedule by 872 miles

-Marcus C. (Aurora, Colorado): 5 miles ahead of schedule

Total Number of Strava Group Members: 290


Challenges: I am happy to say that April was a pretty smooth month overall.  The weather is improving and I am getting better at fitting in the 27 mile/day average with my training schedule as I start to ramp up towards some races.  

One ride was particularly frustrating - about a week ago I set out for a nice long Sunday solo ride-  the sun was out, I had an open day and the wind for once was not howling like crazy.  About the time I was as far away from my house as I could possibly be, I clipped out of my pedal at a stop light and felt my cleat break.  I continued on attempting to rest my shoe on my pedal, and tried to take a "short cut" through Chatfield to the closest bike shop that would likely sell the cleats.  Sadly, Chatfield is all torn up and I found myself facing a giant field of dirt where the road once was.  I had to reverse those miles back to a logical place (Waterton Canyon) where I realized I had no choice but to call an Uber to get home.  After 20 miles of resting the shoe on my Speedplay pedal I knew I wouldn't be able to do that another 30 miles home to Golden.  Calling an uber to get bailed out on a ride was a first! 

Another interesting "challenge" was finding a yelp review someone left about my law firm online.  It appeared to be from insurance defense counsel (i.e. opposing counsel in our cases).  The post made a point to criticize my #10000milesin2018 goal -actually suggesting readers find my group on Strava and shaming me for attempting such a goal ...  I found the commentary really interesting- apparently it is acceptable to spend 2 hours a day car commuting, but not 2 hours a day bike riding and commuting?  All that post did was fire me up even more to hit this goal! 

Highlights: April was also #30daysofbiking ! 

Last weekend I enjoyed 2 back-to-back sunny days of miles with a friend and we didn't have a single motorist issue, a single flat, or mechanical- nothing but those enjoyable, blissful miles in the sun.  Those make me so happy -they charge my battery for days and days.  

THIS MONTH’S QUESTION:  Is this goal easier or harder than expected?

I found it getting pretty tough in February and March but now I'm finding a groove and heading into summer and some events ahead, I am hoping I can enter the fall and winter with some banked miles to get me through the cold months ;) 

Take the Pledge: April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

By Maureen & Megan

Cyclist John Kirby was riding in the bike lane in Parker, Colorado in November 2017 when he was hit and killed by an alleged distracted driver.

  (A special thanks to our friend Russell, for posing for this photo.  Don't worry, the car is not in motion!). 

(A special thanks to our friend Russell, for posing for this photo.  Don't worry, the car is not in motion!). 

According to the arrest affidavit, the driver became distracted when she “looked down to push the off button on the vehicle’s stereo,” to turn off an incoming call. That’s when she veered into the bike lane hitting Kirby.

Any activity that could divert a driver’s attention away from the primary task of driving is distracted driving. This includes the use of cell phones and electronics and eating or drinking. If, while driving, you are entering information into your navigation system, changing radio stations or typing a text message, you are distracted.

It’s negligent, unsafe and puts others at risk, especially cyclists on roadways.

Not surprisingly, distracted driving is on the rise nationwide, especially with more people using cell phones. According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,477 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes due to distracted driving in 2015.

The Colorado Department of Transportation reports that:

  • Distracted drivers cause an average of 40 crashes every day in Colorado.
  • Sixty seven deaths in 2016 involved Colorado distracted drivers.

Our office has handled numerous cases where distractions involving a cell phone were either strongly suspected or were absolutely involved in causing the collision. 

One of Megan’s most common practices is to check social media for photos the at-fault driver has taken on their phone while in the car (has anyone else noticed this bizarre trend of taking selfies of oneself sitting in the driver’s seat with the seatbelt on?).  Megan has used these photos to argue that the driver frequently used, touched, messed with, and operated a phone while in the vehicle. 

Photo 2.jpg

There is no question that juries punish this behavior with larger verdicts.  Interestingly though, there seems to be a trend where jurors, cyclists, society at large, “tsk-tsks” this behavior and yet, it seems so prolific that “everyone is doing it.”  Why do we shame others for the very conduct we ourselves do? 

One issue that seems to arise is the use of map apps or directions to get to a destination. 

There are two solutions to this that would remove the phone from a driver’s arm’s reach:  One, use the car’s built-in NAV system and don’t use the phone for directions.  Two, type the destination into the phone and set it to an audible turn-by-turn guidance format.  Then, stash the phone back in the backseat or trunk where you cannot reach it. 

Numerous studies and statistics show that once the phone is within eyesight of a driver or user, it is almost impossible to resist the urge to check it, touch it, use it ...  The phone is an addictive device for most users.  Therefore, to ensure you are never a distracted driver, it needs to be out of sight each time you operate your vehicle. 

Several laws in Colorado are aimed at distracted driving:

C.R.S. § 42-4-239 states:

Photo 3.jpg

A person under eighteen years of age shall not use a wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle.
A person eighteen years of age or older shall not use a wireless telephone for the purpose of engaging in text messaging or other similar forms of manual data entry while operating a motor vehicle.

Forty seven states make text messaging illegal while driving.

C.R.S. § 42-4-1411 addresses the use of earphones:

 It is against the law to operate a motor vehicle while wearing earphones that include a headset, radio, tape player, or other similar device which provides the listener with music, radio, or recorded information and which covers all or a portion of the ears.

Do these laws do enough to protect cyclists?

In January and February 2018, bills aimed at decreasing distracted driving throughout Colorado and protecting vulnerable road users did not make it out of committee or were voted down during the Colorado legislative session.

Senate Bills 18-140 and 18-049 would have made careless driving a class 1 misdemeanor and increased the penalties imposed for distracted driving.

“Keep pushing car companies to produce technology that makes steering and texting at the same time impossible.”
— Tim Blumenthal, People For Bikes

What we can do to make the roads safer for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians:

  1. Take the pledge to drive free of distractions. Whether you do this online or privately, pledge to drive without texting, checking social media, changing the radio station, multi-tasking or any behavior that is going to take your eyes off the road.
  2. All cyclists, while operating their motor vehicles, should be distraction-free.  If we want to set the example and make roads safer for us when we are riding, then our call to action when we are motorists is to put those phones in the backseat or truck (as many in Canada do, given the harsh penalties there for even touching one’s phone). 
  3. Check out the National Safety Council pledge here or the “It Can Wait” campaign here if you want to make your pledge official.
  4. Advocate for laws that will impose tougher penalties for distracted driving. Speak up for laws that will make cycling safer and provide better infrastructure for cyclists.
  5. Get involved with a bike organization such as PeopleForBikes, whose aim is to make riding better for everyone. They represent all types of cyclists and work at city, state and national levels to improve bike infrastructure and provide support to bicycle advocacy groups on a local level.  Membership is free so SIGN UP! 
  6. Pull off to the side of the road if you need to make a call or just turn your cell phone off while driving.
  7. Be a role model. If you are a parent, put down your phone while driving when your kids are in the car. Don’t call or text your kids if they know you might be driving. Set a good example!
  8. If you are interested in your state’s distracted driving laws, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association has put together a state-by-state chart here

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

#10000milesin2018: Month Three Update

Total Miles to Date: 2353 (Yes, doggone it, I'm still behind -but close to catching up!)

Total Number of Strava Group Members: 277 members – It’s not too late to join the group. We have had more people join in on the fun since our last update.

At the beginning of March, some of our members shared their mileage to date. Several had already reached 1,666 miles or were close to being on target:

*John O’Neill from Allenstown, Pennsylvania – 2,219 miles

*Bart De Lepeleer from Guía de Isora, Canarias, Spain – 1,932

Challenges: I tackled too many work/personal life projects all at once in March and found myself putting rides on the back burner (sounds like February?) as these projects would ramp up ...  There were a few days my back was really bothering me and I had to skip rides then as well.  

Highlights: I rode my bike to amazing performances, including: Yamato Drummers, Poncho Sanchez & His Latin Jazz Band, and a spring training game (Giants vs Cubs).  In addition I perfected my bike commute to get more dog food, to load up on groceries at Sprouts, and even to pick up a freshly-steamed suit jacket!  

March also featured several really big mileage group rides, where we enjoyed amazing views, roads, and experiences-  zero flats, zero issues with motorists, only 100% fun and great conversation too! 

THIS MONTH’S QUESTION:  How do you motivate yourself each month to meet your end goal of 10,000 miles?

When I set a goal I set it with the intention of seeing it through.  As frustrated as I have been at times to fall behind- so rapidly after just a few days off the bike - It fires me up even more to go out and tackle some big rides to catch back up!  This is not the kind of goal where you can leave it to the end of the year to try and play catch up -the months of November and December won't be the time to make up miles! So I am fired up now, this spring, to get on top of the miles and stay on track as summer approaches! 

Need an extra push for the month of April?  It's #30daysofbiking month -where the movement encourages participants to ride their bike every day -regardless of distance!  Give it a shot!  

#10000milesin2018: Month Two Update

Total Miles to Date: 1298.4

Total Number of Strava Group Members: 264 members – 13 more people joined since our last update at the end of January.

Challenges: 

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After a strong January, February was rough.  Between snow and strong winds, the weather made many days unfavorable for riding outside, my motivation was plain-and-simple lacking to bundle up, and so indoor rides were usually the go-to for me- often in the evenings.  One weekend that was unseasonably warm was really windy, and another one was spent caring for an injured dog.  One week I was at a 3-day conference and I opted for treadmill runs vs the hotel exercise bike (to get a bit more calorie-bang-for-the-buck).  That week -for the entire WEEK- I only logged 27 miles- which is supposed to be my daily target. Ooftah.  But hey - that's life! I fell behind on my miles, no question about it.  (I should be around 1,666 miles so I'm about 368 behind!).

Highlights:

I figured out how to build custom workouts on Zwift, which means the program walks you through your target efforts both in time and in power goals, taking all of the math and self-guidance out of the equation.  It's awesome -and really helps a rider nail their workout! 

THIS MONTH’S QUESTION:  What strengths are you drawing on to meet your goal?

Self-discipline was a big one ...  getting ON the trainer at 9 or 930pm a few times took every ounce of self-discipline I possess.  Getting on the trainer workout after workout (thankful for my Feedback Sports Omnium every single time!) without the chance to ride outside took some self-discipline.  Also -perspective.  Knowing that there were just days I wasn't up to riding and giving myself the "ok" to skip those days.  Looking at the year as a whole and not panicking about falling too far behind on miles kept me sane ;) 


Strava Group Member Feature: 

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If you’re in Portland, Oregon, join Daniel Payne, one of our #10000milesin2018 members, for a ride. He is planning on riding around 11,000 miles in 2018. In 2017, he rode 13,000 miles. Way to go, Daniel! 

My Bike Trip Around the World: A Guest Blog

My name is Sarah Welle - I live in Longmont, CO and I'm an entrepreneur (I run a gifting company called Colorado Crafted that specializes in Colorado-made products). I'm writing to tell you about the time I spent a year cycling around the world for my honeymoon!

It all started when, in my mid 20s, I got the book Miles from Nowhere as a gift. It's about a couple in the 70s who drops everything and rides their bikes around the world. I had never HEARD of such a thing, but I was completely captivated. Less than a year later, I got married to my longtime boyfriend and somehow convinced him that we should quit our cushy Microsoft jobs, sell everything we owned, and cycle around the world for a year as our unconventional honeymoon. I still can't believe I convinced him it was a good idea, but I did! In 2007 we sold literally everything, packed up our bikes and camping gear, flew to New Zealand, and started cycling. I still remember the feeling of standing in a parking lot right before we left and just dropping my purse into a garbage can because I didn't need it anymore. 

How did you decide where to ride?

We wanted to see SO much of the world. We started off with really ambitious plans, not really having any idea how fast we'd make any progress on our route. We decided to start with New Zealand because we wanted an "easy" country to start in - English speaking, cycle touring is popular there, lots of places to get spare parts in the case of a breakdown, etc. So that's where we started! From there we wanted to check out Southeast Asia, so we booked tickets to Singapore and cycled north through Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos. After that we didn't really have any concrete plans, but what ended up happening was a big crash in the jungles of Laos, forced skipping of China, and a change of plans that brought us to Eastern Europe where we cycled through Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, etc, etc -- finally ending our trip in Istanbul, Turkey! We'd considered flying to Argentina and riding south but after a year on the road we missed family and friends and were ready to end the big trip.


What was the best part of traveling by bike?

There were SO many things to love. We loved the quiet peacefulness of cycling through the countryside: we could hear birds singing, cows chewing grass, locals chatting and going about their business. It also gave us so many opportunities to meet people and really experience the local culture. When you're resting in the shade and eating a snack you'd be surprised how many kind invitations you get to join people for tea, etc. We were overwhelmed by the general goodness of humanity, which was wonderful. We also loved seeing the landscape slowly change as we cycled across whole countries, and it was a treat to actually see the sunrise and sunset every single day for a whole year.

What was the hardest part?

The reality of being stuck outside in terrible weather, the worst was freezing rain or days & days of windy weather, was much harder in practice than I'd expected. We were also surprised by the difference in our physical abilities; I would feel tired and worn out after far fewer miles than James which caused a few pesky conflicts! ;)

How did you experience the cycling-motorist relationship in different countries? 
This was fascinating to experience - there was a huge range in this relationship. In more third-world countries, where cars are less common, cars and trucks on the road were perfectly accustomed to sharing the road with cyclists (and walkers and mopeds and cows)! We felt very safe cycling in countries like Thailand and Laos. In some Eastern European countries - Serbia stands out in my mind - car owners were unbelievably aggressive and frightening at times. We learned to take back roads as much as possible, as well as avoid riding through major cities, and that did a lot to make day to day cycling more fun.


We kept a blog along the way which is super outdated looking at this point, but the stories are still there! It's at erck.org.  

Two of my favorite blog posts are:

  • This roundup, about 6 months into the trip, of our favorite & least favorite things, scariest moments, and our most common arguments: http://blog.erck.org/?p=471
  • Looking back on our trip, our top pieces of advice if you're thinking of a similar trip: http://blog.erck.org/?p=782