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At my Colorado personal injury law firm, I have helped many injured bicyclists who were the victims of negligent and even aggressive drivers. For the most part, I think Colorado is biker-friendly. Our own governor often bikes to work! But it’s worth discussing issues that can come with bicycling in Colorado.
However, I have heard from biker friends that there are Colorado roads where they often feel threatened simply due to poor road quality, bad transportation planning or, sadly, aggressive drivers. Personally, those are the roads I would avoid if I were a big road biker. One of my friends stopped biking gorgeous Deer Creek Canyon due to heavy traffic and aggressive drivers.
But I also respect bikers’ desires to see the same Colorado sites that people in cars want to see. They also have every right take to the roads to challenge themselves on grueling ascents that pay off in heart-pounding descents (within the speed limit). The trick is staying safe when sharing the road with cars.
Case in point: there is a popular road on the Western Slope that is frequented by bikers due to its stunning scenery and challenging terrain. That road also lacks a shoulder for nearly a mile. The Monument Loop near Colorado National Monument, also known as Highway 340, is an iconic Colorado road.
Unfortunately, back in October, 2015, a 58-year-old cyclist was hit by a car on the road and ended up in ICU. The accident caused a firestorm on the Western Slope. This is an excerpt from a story that ran on 11News.
“Sadly I was not surprised,” said cyclist Dan Ford. “There will be more accidents here if they don’t do something.”
“I was devastated because this section of highway has been a concern of ours for a long time as cyclists,” said Kristina Kittelson.
“Over the years, the drivers have gotten really aggressive and distracted on this highway,” said Kittelson. “With no shoulder I’ve actually quit riding the section as many people I know have.”
So, I wondered, why don’t they fix the road? How hard can it be to add a decent shoulder to a road out in the middle of nowhere? Plenty hard, I learned: CDOT’s Tracy Trulove says it’s easier said than done.
“In order to add bike lanes you have to go through much more of a reconstruction project, and the funding just wasn’t there to do that at the time,” said Trulove. “There’s a lot of challenges including right of way in some areas and also drainage. It could be a CDOT right of way or it could be owned by private land users.”
It seems to me that Colorado bicyclists who want to stay safe on the roads need to choose safe roads, and continue advocating for improvements on the unsafe ones. I know that I wouldn’t let my kids ride on a road without a shoulder. The odds are too great that they’ll get hit! When you decide which roads to ride, ask yourself, “Do I truly feel safe on that road?” If the answer is, No, then pick a different route. Who knows, you may find a new fave ride!
To join other bikers and advocate for safer roads, visit BicycleColorado.com. (And see the related story in this newsletter.)
Have questions about this article? Give me a call at 303-388-5304.
Bicycle Colorado is a busy nonprofit working to make our state one of the most bicycle-friendly in the nation. The organization encourages and promotes bicycling, increased safety, improved conditions and also provides a voice for people who ride bicycles in Colorado. With the support of its members, the organization has made significant strides in improving the Colorado bicycling experience since 1992.
Here is a list of the organization’s accomplishments:
Bicycle Colorado is a fantastic organization helping to keep our state biker-friendly. Visit their website to learn about membership, biking events and other advocacy issues they’re tackling.
303-417-1544 • firstname.lastname@example.org
All this talk about biking is making me tired! Let’s talk about post-workout routines that can help you properly recover from physical exercise.