On any day where the weather is even halfway decent, you can scan the roads of Boulder, Colorado and find them filled with cyclists. People move to Colorado for our over 300 days of sunshine and altitude, making it one of the top training destinations in the world for recreational and professional athletes alike. I mean, folks in Boulder take to two wheels like birds to flight. Unless you’re a penguin, but that’s neither here nor there.
But I’m asking — pleading, actually — the motorists: it’s time to re-prioritize bikes in your field of transportation-related vision.
This past Tuesday, another cyclist was killed while out for an early morning ride. Yes, he was wearing a helmet. And no, the truck driver didn’t stop. He failed to yield to an oncoming vehicle (read: the cyclist).
How many more stories like this do we have to read in the Daily Camera before Boulder-area motorists begin to see cyclists for the vehicles they are? I’d much rather read about Lucky’s Market branching out to a new Longmont location than about another dead cyclist who’s dead because people don’t afford bikes as much respect as gas-powered vehicles.
So, I have a bit for the motorists — some of which I covered earlier this year when I chatted about Bike to Work Day. And I also have a few choice words for my fellow cyclists.
To our state’s lawmakers
Operators of motor vehicles are under your auspices. Until law enforcement officials begin to cite motorists in accordance with Share the Road rules, motorists are only going to continue seeing bikes and their operators as annoyances instead of the vehicles they are. It’s also time to start citing more cyclists for acting like jerks when they blow stop signs, intersections, and traffic signals. Not all of us ride like this, but the ones who do make the rest of us look like the problem when we’re truly asking for a solution.
Perhaps it’s also time for tests on cycling rules to accompany Drivers License renewals. This way, there’s no excuse for anyone to say they didn’t know about how they’re supposed to treat cyclists on our state’s roadways.
To our state’s motorists
I get it. Bikes move slow — much slower than your Subaru and definitely much slower than your SUV. But the impact of your car against the unprotected body of a cyclist (even though we’re wearing our helmets) is a battle of ratios you never want to be involved with. Having been hit by a car that blew a stop sign, I know what it feels like first hand no not win. So, here are a few key details you need to remember when you see a bike on the streets of Boulder — or anywhere in Colorado:
- Bikes have the same priority as cars. Legally, cyclists must obey all traffic signals and signs. Just because you paid $30,000 for your SUV doesn’t make it more important than the $700 to $7000 a cyclist paid for his or her bike.
- Three feet to pass. When you pass a cyclist on the road, you must give that cyclist a berth of 3 feet to legally pass. And yes, sometimes that means slowing down because you can’t swerve around. But it’s the law.
- Stop seeing us as annoying. I know that there are cyclojerks, cyclists who act like jerks and make the rest of us cyclists look bad. By and large, though, we’re good people who just have an inexplicable love for self-powered transportation. We might be slower than your car, but we’re not riding our bikes to ruin your day.
To my fellow cyclists
Only a few words here:
- Stop riding like jerks. Three-wide ain’t cool and blowing traffic signs and signals makes you no better than the drivers who see us as a problem. Stop being a part of the problem. Obey traffic laws and stop letting your power meter run your life.
- Wave. When drivers are nice, wave. Say thank you. Reinforce courteous driving. Quit it with the flip-offs. Instead, start taking photos of license plates and situations. Call the cops or State Troopers. Yelling only continues to make us look like the problem.
- Learn the law. Head over to Colorado Bike Law and read up on your responsibilities as a cyclist. We’re not better than cars — we are cars and have to start acting like cars. We also have to start acting like law-abiding operators of vehicles.