Cyclist Matt Pronovost didn't let the wet weather, or traffic, stop him from rolling along Yampa Street on Monday morning. Pronovost says he commutes to and from work year-round. A bill currently being debated in the Colorado General Assembly would change the way cyclists interact with motor vehicles.

Photo by John F. Russell

Cyclist Matt Pronovost didn't let the wet weather, or traffic, stop him from rolling along Yampa Street on Monday morning. Pronovost says he commutes to and from work year-round. A bill currently being debated in the Colorado General Assembly would change the way cyclists interact with motor vehicles.

Proposal worries cyclists

Baumgardner: 2-abreast amendment protects all road users

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CDOT announces Share the Road grants

Grants of as much as $5,000 will be awarded this year as part of the Colorado Department of Transportation's Share the Road campaign. CDOT has announced that it is now accepting grant applications, which are due April 15. Local governments, law enforcement agencies, safety coalitions, health departments and nonprofit entities are encouraged to apply. Grants will be awarded the week of April 20 and implemented by June 30.

"CDOT's Share the Road campaign is designed to encourage respect and generate awareness among all roadway users - pedestrians, bicycles and motorists," a CDOT news release states. "The CDOT grants will allow interested parties to implement a Share the Road campaign this summer, helping educate the public about the program."

Visit www.dot.state.co.us/travelinfo/sharetheroad/ for more information.

— State Rep. Randy Baumgardner has angered some cycling groups with an effort to curtail riders' ability to ride two abreast on state highways, but the Hot Sulphur Springs Republican said his amendment is for the safety of all road users, including cyclists.

Critics say Baumgardner's amendment to Senate Bill 148 is a blight on legislation intended to improve roadway safety for cyclists. Baumgardner said Monday that the criticism is overblown and that his provision - which would prohibit cyclists from riding two abreast in areas where lanes are 12 feet wide or smaller, or where there is a solid yellow line against cyclists - is not intended to be as restrictive as some fear.

State law currently allows cyclists to ride two abreast when doing so "will not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic" or when they are "riding on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles." Cyclists also must stay within a single lane when riding two abreast.

"The bottom line is, I'm concerned about (cyclists') safety. That's the only reason I ran that amendment," said Baumgardner, who represents House District 57, including Routt County.

The amended version of the bill passed the state House last week but still awaits a final reading. The bill also must be reconciled with an unamended version passed by the state Senate in February.

"I wish we could have had a conversation in advance of the amendment because I think the way it's worded is going to make it tough for people to understand," said Bicycle Colorado Executive Director Dan Grunig, who thinks a strict reading of the amendment would improperly prevent one cyclist from passing another. "That's just not reasonable."

Brian Weiss, a cyclist and Lakewood personal injury attorney who specializes in bicycle accident cases, agreed that the amendment technically would disallow one cyclist from passing another.

"I'm having trouble understanding the benefit of" the amendment, Weiss said.

Baumgardner disagreed and said the amendment would not prevent one cyclist from safely passing another.

"Passing someone is passing someone. Riding two abreast is riding two abreast," he said. "They can pass each other as long as the road is clear. : We're not taking common sense completely out of this."

But the whole point of the bill, primary sponsor Sen. Greg Brophy said, was to specifically codify safe and common sense behavior between cyclists and motorists rather than create the type of confusion Baumgardner's amendment seems to have produced.

"It creates a less clear situation, for sure," Brophy, a Wray Republican, said. "It wasn't a very well thought out amendment in my mind."

Brophy said he hopes to "fix" the amendment when the two versions of the bill are reconciled in conference committee.

Other provisions

As written, S.B. 148 includes provisions that also would:

- Require motorists to give cyclists a 3-foot berth when passing them

- Allow motorists to cross a solid centerline to pass a cyclist

- Allow cyclists to ride on the left side of the road on one-way roads

- Allows cyclists to ride on the left-hand side of a dedicated right-hand turn lane even if they are not turning right

- Make it a Class 2 misdemeanor to throw objects at a cyclist

- Make driving toward a cyclist in a dangerous manner a careless driving offense

"Overall, I think the bill would be good to make it safer for cyclists," Weiss said.

Citing lawmakers, The Denver Post reported last week that cycling deaths and injuries have increased in Colorado in the past two years. In Routt County, at least two cyclists have been involved in accidents with motor vehicles already this year, and one remains hospitalized.

County Sheriffs of Colorado opposes the bill, thinking it actually reduces safety and would be difficult or impossible to enforce.

"It moves the cyclist to what we consider unsafe positions on the highway," Executive Director Don Christensen said.

Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall, however, has broken with the statewide organization and supports the bill.

"I think more leeway needs to be given to bike riders, particularly in this county," said Wall, a Democrat.

All three Routt County Commissioners agreed with the enforceability concerns raised by Christensen. Commissioner Doug Monger said he was offended by the "one-sided nature" of the bill, noting that the provision on projectiles would not apply equally to a cyclist who threw something at a motorist.

"What's good for the goose is good for the gander," said Monger, who fears the legislation may stir up animosity between cyclists and motorists.

Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush disagreed. She said that although enforcing the bill would be a challenge, she hopes it will at least send a clear message about acceptable behavior.

"I think one of the things the bill does for me is make people understand people can be very seriously injured or killed," she said. "I think it's really important to have the rules be very clear."

Comments

rhammel 5 years, 8 months ago

SB148 passed the House yesterday, 3/30/2009. It now goes back to the Senate for a final touch up. Then on to the Governor for signature.

I have been tracking this Bill since prior to Senate passage. I have written Rep Baumgardner twice about this Bill with no response. The main reason I support this Bill is that it requires motorists to give at least a three foot clearance to a cyclist. And it allows the motorist to cross a solid line to do it. I have been passed by tractor-trailer rigs with less than three feet and that is scary. With so many of the roads in the County having less than two foot shoulders, we cyclists are forced to ride in traffic lanes.

Please share the road.... Rick

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xrsareus 5 years, 8 months ago

I would share the rode with a cyclist if they had to pay to ride on the roads. Every vehicle I have has to have a plate and insurance to be on a public road. Why should you not have to register your bike to use the same road? You are suppose to follow the same traffic laws. Now don't get me wrong, I do watch out for the bike riders, I ride myself, not hardcore but these roads are not wide enough and I think a bike registration could and should help pay for bike lanes. Look a Mount Harris canyon, all the money spent for electronic signs for the cyclists safety and not one bike rider payed for it with bike fee's. But everyone who own's anyother vehicle did.

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craiggirl 5 years, 8 months ago

Hey X - Really, how much impact do you think bicycles have on paved roads? License fees are based on the weight of the vehicle and ownership fees are based on the worth. Bikes weigh, what, 20 pounds? And what are bikes worth? I thknk you've missed the mark here.

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xrsareus 5 years, 8 months ago

craiggirl, I also have to register every off road vehicle I own, they don't go by weight but a flat fee of $25.25 every year per vehicle. That money goes for building trails and other inprovements( so they say). Guess what, the bikes don't pay any fees to use the trails either. I just think they should pay something to use the same things I have to pay for. Highways or trails. Every little bit helps.

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calvinhobbs 5 years, 8 months ago

I agree with X. I pay State Parks on OHV fee for trails, mtn bikes also use these. Bikes can pay a fee that could help pay fees for signs etc.

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als362 5 years, 8 months ago

xrsareus has the same opinion as I do.
Bicyclists for the most part are the biggest road hogs there are. I own a bike, and when I see a car coming toward me I get as far off the road as I can. Most of the people that ride a bike though it seems, to try to see how close they can get to a vehicle without getting hit. It is unsafe for the driver just as it is for the bike rider to be on the same road as a bike. Along with this bill I think they should add that it is illegal to ride a bike on a road that does not have at least a 3 foot wide shoulder, then the car or truck would not have to drive into opposing traffic to get passed a bike. I agree that bikes should have to pay a registration fee, these fees should be used in the city/county where they are collected to build bike paths and trails for people to ride bikes so they don't have to use the same road space as cars and trucks.

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freeman 5 years, 8 months ago

I THOUGHT THAT THE GRILL GAURDS ON THE FRONT OF THE VEHICLES WAS MADE FOR CONTROLLING BIKE RIDERS WHO HOG THE ROAD,,,MAYBE IM WRONG

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als362 5 years, 8 months ago

If they don't get out of the way, sounds fair to me.

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David Moore 5 years, 8 months ago

Am I hearing some of you right? By the logic I am reading, my life and the life of my child are in danger because you don't think we have a right to ride our bicycles on the roads? Or that we don't belong there because we do not PAY to be there...therefore we must be run off the road and killed? It also seems that cyclists are someones test subject for a twisted, sick form of grille guard research?

Unbelievable that I am hearing this from my neighbors.

Bikers are not innocent(and some are downright insane), but that does not give any driver the right to intimidate, harass or threaten them in any way. Cyclists are not able to cause the harm, disfigurement and death that a car hitting a biker will do. When's the last you heard of a car being demolished and the driver killed after being hit by a bicycle?

This strikes a nerve in me because I have been faced with the reality of such road rage and senseless acts us humans bring upon ourselves, all because someone didn't care.

I don't wish that job on anybody.

With summer around the bend, please be safe, follow the law, and share the road...everyone...drivers and bikers alike. Either that or don't go biking at all, you are being hunted.

I don't want to meet you at work.

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David Moore 5 years, 8 months ago

Patrick, Sad isn't it that we cannot even recreate outdoor's with our children without being threatened with our lives. Your P.S. however in my opinion is wrong, roads are not only for cars and by LAW, something touted very highly on this forum, you must allow room for cyclists, like it or not.

I will take down plate #'s and I will turn anyone in that decides I don't belong on the road, I will take advantage of the laws that protect me and my child, and I will run them out through the court until they have nothing left...that I can promise you. This is no threat, like has been bestowed on me and my child by some of you, but a glimpse into reality, and a promise from one cyclist AND driver that this behavior will not be tolerated.

I guess the thought of killing someone is not enough.... Maybe when someone else's life other than the cyclist is ruined, some MIGHT get the picture, but I doubt it.

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xrsareus 5 years, 8 months ago

So David, I want to say I agree with you, no one should try to run a bike off the road or harass them. I will always wave and if on my motorcycle wave and honk as I go by pulling over into the other lane if safe to do. If not slow down until safe to pass. I have seen on Routt County 129 bikes riding 3 or 4 abreast, look back and see you and not go single file, like they are above the law. Now my point and my point in my original post on this. I want to see if you agree or are you in it for the free ride..... Do you think you and other bike riders should have to register your bike just like everyone else has to, to use a public road? To help pay for projects that enhance you bike riding experience and make it safer for you and your family. You said you would get a plate number if someone does you wrong, I should be able to get a plate number also if a bike is doing me wrong, Agree or not?

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David Moore 5 years, 8 months ago

Yes, I agree that bikes should pay some sort of registration fee, not to ALLOW them to use the road but to further things like paths and off road places to ride. That fee can also be used to place a plate or number on the bike for easy identification, same as cars. Bicycles are non-motorized...are you saying that people who walk or skate on the roads should pay too? I do all three, should I have to pay a registration fee for riding/walking and skating? Should I only be allowed to walk or skate on certain roads? Might as well hit up those law breaking stroller pushers and roller blader's to, why single out bikes? Non-motorized, that's the difference.

I have been in the same situation as you described on 129, and many other places...mostly in Routt County, never here at home. After waiting for the corner to come round and the traffic to pass, I ease on by only to be spit on and flipped off while passing. Makes you want to pull over and throw a shovel handle through the front tire on their way by.....makes you WANT to, but I never do. Anyone who rides, or drives, knows this breed, fortunately for us here in Moffat County we don't have many of them...you know who I mean. I feel the same aggression as some of you do when encountering law breaking bike riders, I just realize the difference between my truck and the bike....let the bike win. So what??

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rhammel 5 years, 8 months ago

Riders in Routt County are a problem. That is something the Routt County Sheriff will have to deal with. Group rides are always a problem. Luckily, we don't have that issue here in Craig. I have ridden the Elephant Rock event in Castle Rock. 10,000 riders on 5 courses! Talk about 4 abreast! CSP got involved and some major changes were made.

I support the notion of registration fees for all bicycles. Where else will the funding come from? Perhaps with enough matching funds, we could get a grant from GOCO and really get some shoulder extentions on roads like County Road 7. I would love to ride it, but there is no shoulder and I feel it is just not safe.

Rick

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David Moore 5 years, 8 months ago

And so there you have it, we cyclists are actually on your side...as drivers and bike riders we want some of the same things, to make it safer and enjoyable for all of us. Thank you Mr. Hammel for bringing the issue to the front, however I think I've said enough so thanks for the discussion.

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freeman 5 years, 8 months ago

david,,i was just throwing alittle humor to the side,,,i know it is not funny when it comes to kids,,but i was wondering were u were at this morning at nine oclock,,,,but thats alright with me

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als362 5 years, 8 months ago

Several months ago I requested the Moffat County Commissioners look into constructing a bike/walk path from 9th street to Murdoch's. I cited the need for it because of the kids that ride and walk on C.R7. The commissioners all acted like they were interested in this project. One of them stated he traveled this stretch of road daily, and swa the need for one. Maybe if all of us sent emails to the commissioners about this path, they would get something done about it. What does everyone think.

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als362 5 years, 8 months ago

If it were up to me fees would apply to every bike, every rider.

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Emily Gilchrist 5 years, 8 months ago

I have a question about making a fee to ride a bike. Who does that apply to. Does every kid that rides their bike around town have to pay. Or is it just for people riding on the Highways. I don't think its fair to make parents pay a fee for their kids to be able to ride their bikes. I know that there are bikers will not move over for a car and I hate that as much as the next person, but for the most part the bikers in MC are very carefull and always move over and make room for the car.

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als362 5 years, 8 months ago

It has been my experience that most of the riders everywhere are rude road hogs that think the roads were built for them alone. I don't know where you have seen these polite riders but it is not here.

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als362 5 years, 8 months ago

If you don't want to pay your share keep your kids bike off the street/road. I will be working April 15th, won't be able to make it, sorry.

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lonelyone 5 years, 8 months ago

Patrick, I just read that article and I thought it said Loudy Simpson?? maybe I should go read it again.

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lonelyone 5 years, 8 months ago

yep, read it again and it says the Tea Party will be at Loudy Simpson on the 15th of April. Court house might have been a better place to have it, but I bet they were told no on that spot!!

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taxslave 5 years, 8 months ago

Don't we pay for "that" spot? Isn't it public property? We should find out if the Consitution is still in "charge" in our county. If not, we should make a resolution confirming that it is.

Hummm....no debt....just honest money, accountability, taxation with representation.....what a concept.

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als362 5 years, 8 months ago

Before I went off the deep end of things and got arrested or ticketed. You might want to find out if a permit is required to use the front steps or the sidewalk in front of the court house for a demonstration. I sort of have the feeling that is what you are going to discover is true, but I really don't know. Yes it is public property, but that space is governed by the laws of the county/state. This might be no different than needing a permit to have a parade, or a special event on the city/county streets.

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