The relationship between motorists and bicyclists in Boulder County too often is an adversarial one. Just read some of the online comments on stories about the recent incident in which an Erie man is accused of harassing two cyclists by trailing slowly behind while repeatedly honking his horn. The justice system will determine guilt or innocence, but the incident and the dialogue that followed the video of the incident one of the cyclists posted on YouTube are a reminder of the conflicts between bikes and cars using the same roads.
No doubt some motorists harass cyclists, just as some cyclists taunt drivers with their behavior. Undoubtedly, they’re both in the minority. A drive up Left Hand Canyon or South St. Vrain Canyon — both popular cycling routes — on a summer Saturday shows that most drivers and cyclists follow the law and co-exist safely and peacefully.
The reality is, bicyclists in Colorado have the same right to be on the road as cars and trucks, and that’s not going to change. Motorists have a responsibility to share the road with them lawfully and equitably.
The state Legislature in 2009 enacted the Bicycle Safety Act to try to lessen some of the conflicts and give drivers and cyclists a clearer picture of their responsibilities. This seems like a good time for a reminder of that law.
The law gave cyclists the right to ride side by side when the road is clear, but requires them to get into single file when a vehicle is approaching from behind. Vehicles passing cyclists must keep at least 3 feet away from the bikers when passing, and the three-year-old law allows them to cross the centerline to maintain that buffer, provided it’s safe to do so. Yes, there will be occasions when vehicles are going to have to slow down and wait to pass safely, and that’s when common courtesy and patience are most needed.
A little of each, from both motorists and cyclists, will go a long way toward keeping everyone safe on the road.