Hostility on the Road

Get on the Sidewalk!

by Scott T.

Two of my friends got hit by a car and were killed in Colorado Springs on August 6th, 2008. The woman is more than likely going to be released with a slap on the wrist. She wasn’t supposed to be driving. She was on some assortment of drugs and she apparently did not have her vision corrected properly for driving.

To combat the car vs. bicycle war that many people aren’t aware of, we wanted to remind you of some of the rules that both cyclists and drivers forget:

1. Bicycles and cars are both NOT allowed on the sidewalk, unless otherwise posted.
- if you are on the sidewalk and hit a car or pedestrian (or mailbox), you will be treated as if you were in a car and did the same. It sounds crazy, but thems the facts. We have seen situations where the cyclist has had to pay for the damage to the car they slammed into on the sidewalk.

2. Bicycles and cars are both NOT allowed to run red lights.
- if you run a red light, you get a ticket. We know it happens, but be careful.

3. Bicycles and cars have to have running lights at night (blinking white and red for the bicycle).
- if you don’t have them on, other cyclists and cars cannot see you. In addition, you will be ticketed as if you were a car that forgot to turn on their lights and was driving around.

4. If a road rage altercation starts, it will get attention and follow up from our Police force. But, it has to be reported quickly. Get a license plate and description.
To report a case of road rage, call *CSP (*277)
This includes:
- Driver vs. Driver
- Driver vs. Cyclist
- Cyclist vs. Driver
- Cyclist vs. Cyclist

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9 Responses to “Hostility on the Road”

  1. Craig Horton says:

    Hi Scott – This is a definite problem. I’ll admit that I am pretty lucky living in Highlands Ranch because the community seems to be aware of sharing the road. There was a well-publicized accident a couple of years ago when a “texting” teen struck and killed a biker.

    I have easy access to a good network of trails an minimize my time on the road. It is easy to get to the Highline, C-470 and Platte River trails to name a few. A section of the east-west trail will be completed this fall and will be just behind my home. One thing I have ordered is Spitfire Pepper Spray and carry it regularly just in the event things get a little crazy. Might come in handy for large criters in the country too.

    I find riding on the trails the primary time for caution is around families with small children – I have had more “close calls” with this group than any other. The key is to slow down – really slow down and announce “yell” if you are passing. The other items are iPod and Cell phone use – as more and more people use these, some “become one” with the device and oblivious to the surroundings.

    Be careful out there. Craig

  2. Finch says:

    I try to avoid sidewalks, but i will not ride on roads where cars are traveling faster than 35mph, such as Leetsdale, the one bit of busy road i have to hit before getting back to my apartment. 90% of the time i’m able to ride through a neighborhood, and downtown is pretty agreeable to bike traffic. However, i often have to take a short section of Speer, Quebec, or Alameda. I’d rather have to be ultra careful and jump off my bike for pedestrians than speed up and dodge around something 20 times larger than myself that i can’t possibly outrun. I feel nervous on sidewalks, but not nearly as nervous as i do in aggressive traffic. I drive a car on the very rare occassion that i can’t bike, and even then i’d rather not have to cry silently to myself over anxiety of a biker in 45mph traffic. I’m sure there are enough opinions to fill several angry message boards on that one.
    As for stop signs, it’s more courtesy than anything else. If there’s no one around, i’ll blow it, but if there’s ever any traffic whatsoever, i’ll slow to a stop and treat it like i would if i was driving.

  3. Scott T. says:

    Just yesterday, I was leaving the shop in a car. As I got close to the alley, I honked the horn and stopped short of the sidewalk… Screeeech! A cyclist flew in front of the bumper locking her brake, missing by very little, then another cyclist right behind her.

    She yelled “SOOORRRRRRYYYYY” as she flew out onto 13th.


  4. Michael says:

    Sadly, tragedies like that will always happen. As a full-time rider/commuter/tourer since the last three years, I certainly had my own fails share do close calls. It seems to me though that during that time things seem to have improved quite a bit here in Denver.

    I notice a larger number of riders around (perhaps I just notice them more) but it also appears to me that a lot of drivers pay better attention.
    For myself, I have adopted the following rules:

    I always use side streets and bike routes. Often times, that adds a little bit of mileage to the trip, at the same point it’s so much of a better experience. If it takes me a few minutes longer, so what?

    I don’t ride sidewalks unless they are part of a bike-route and I am extra careful when I do.
    I obey stop signs (what better way to practice yore track stand)

    I do not run red lights, period. This has nothing to do with safety, but it sends an important signal to other traffic. Traffic rules are not up for negotiation, and few things tick me off more than (cliche alert) some dude wearing his sister’s pants blowing through a red light on his brakeless fix

    I use a Blackbird X8 light that I upgraded the LED emitters with something stronger ($20 off the internet and a 10 minute solder job, almost all LED lights can be upgraded that way) and the difference to the blink is quite dramatic. Not only do I see better on the side streets, but also cars seem to notice me much better.

    Riding the multi-use trails in Denver quite often, I most certainly agree with the earlier post about being extra careful around families. I find a bell (remember these) an effective and also polite way to announce my presence.

    None of this solves the problem of inattentive drivers in the short run, but in between obeying the traffic rules we are supposed to and using some common sense, I think is the only way to at least minimize these disastrous encounters

  5. Duane says:

    The news report mentions that she was driving under the influence of prescription morphine and barbiturates and without her required glasses. I would not be surprised if she was also talking on a cell phone. While I don’t rely on a bicycle for transportation or commuting, my son does (I think you know him :)) and, I ride a motorcycle. The problem is universal; people driving who should not be, a system that is powerless to stop them, countless distractions, etc., etc. Motorcycles are bigger and louder, but, we are often pushed off the road, crowded out of lanes, and just plain disregarded. The key is defensive driving. Assume that everyone is out to get you, that nobody sees you and that right of way does not exist. And, when driving in a car, set an example of what to do when encountering a bicyclist.

  6. Finch says:

    “I obey stop signs (what better way to practice yore track stand)”

    i like the way you think and the way you spell “yore”, Mr. Michael!

    i’ll get that track stand down one of these days. I can only do it when i’m not trying to!

  7. Scott T says:

    The woman who was charged with killing the cyclists in Colorado Springs received 3 years in jail. The story is here:

    Justice can never be served when someone dies. The precedent has been set, however, to drive with no concern for cyclist’s safety. Really too bad.

  8. Mark P says:

    Obeying traffic laws is required for all. I will only go through a red if I am caught at a busy signal that won’t change and I am let with cars quizzing past I stop and then go through. Although running it technically I have talked with several cops and said they would not ticket me because they would also not want to have to pick me up out of the street after being hit.
    However if you blow the light then you will also not be covered by insurance and the driver can actually sue for damage and injury.

  9. Brian says:

    Westword just did a couple interesting articles on cycling in Denver, stats on bike/auto accidents, worst intersections for accidents, upcoming campaigns on biking, etc. good read:

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