BY NATE TAYLOR • NATETAYLOR@COLORADOAN.COM • NOVEMBER 9, 2009
Bicycle advocate group Bike Fort Collins has long worked with cyclists to improve safety for bike commuters, but at a discussion Thursday, the nonprofit organization will seek input from drivers.
“We’ve always wanted to get the nonbicycling public involved with some of the cycling-related issues in Fort Collins,” Bike Fort Collins president Jeff Morrell said.
The discussion will be based on a report recently released by Fort Collins officials detailing bike and car crashes and the most common types of collisions.
Morrell said the report was chosen for the group’s annual Fall Community Bike Talk because city engineers and bike employees emphasized the need for both cyclists and drivers to improve their conduct on the road.
“We’re trying to get a little better understanding of what some of the issues are,” Morrell said. “From a cyclist’s standpoint, I think we’re pretty much in tune with what’s going on out there, but there’s a lot of education that needs to go on for everyone.”
The report provides opportunities for educational efforts to focus on issues that statistics indicate are most serious, Morrell said.
In an effort to get the driving public to attend the discussion, Morrell said he’s invited driver’s education instructors to the meeting and hopes the every-day drivers will attend, as well.
“Invite all your driving friends so we can get it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, about what they think is happening and not happening on the roads,” Morrell said.
Anthony Smith, president of Mountain States Drivers Education in Fort Collins, said he plans to attend the meeting and is glad a discussion is being generated to make the roads safe.
“Ideally, I’d like to see a bicycling system that didn’t require bicyclists to interact with traffic too much,” Smith said. “I don’t see that happening, so the best thing we can do is talk about how we can keep everybody safe and keep traffic moving positively.”
Smith said one issue he’s concerned about is the safety of bicyclists riding on sidewalks and especially against traffic. The city’s report indicated those types of crashes constituted about 22 percent of all collisions, which is the most of any particular crash.
“Some bicyclists get that idea from their parents who taught them when you jump on a bike, stay on the sidewalk, and go against traffic and always use the crosswalk,” he said. “That gets confusing for car drivers because the message they get is that bicyclists should be following the rules of the road.”
Choice Drivers Education owner Stan Vyvial also plans to attend the meeting with the intention of listening to what cyclists have to say so he can better inform his students about what to expect on the roads.
He said there is a conflict on the road between bicyclists and drivers, which he thinks stems from a small percentage of commuters who don’t follow the rules. Vyvial said he doesn’t think education is an issue, but rather the application of common sense or the lack thereof is the problem.
“We need to do more than pay lip service to respecting one another out there,” Vyvial said. “Everyone, not just on the roads but in life in general, has the temperament to pay someone back if they’ve been affronted in some way.”