Bikes And Motorists Coexisting In The Same Place
Imagine yourself behind the wheel of your car, and suddenly, you realize one of those two-wheeled human-powered dawdling nuisances comes into view. You note the cyclist has the audacity to use more than just the white paint on the right side of the lane. Their wheel passes left of something that glitters in the sunlight. Seeing another bicyclist in the oncoming traffic lane, you consider drifting over and passing, just like you would pass a car when there is no oncoming traffic. Instead, you slow down to time passing the bicyclist traveling your direction without taking the other rider head-on. As you begin to pass, you drift over, providing as much space as you can safely, ensuring you can leave at least three feet between that piece of lumber hanging out your passenger window and the closest part of the cyclist.
Not two minutes later, you approach two cyclists riding side-by-side. One of them notices your approach and looks ahead seeing another oncoming car. They drift back and behind the first rider. With the 12- to 16-foot wide lane, you pass leaving that three-foot space between you and them and don’t have to leave the lane. You observe the oncoming motorist is kind enough to use the outer section of their lane.
As you approach the intersection of two highways, you notice another one of those dawdling nuisances who appears quite spent. They look back, hang their hand to the left and move over to the lane marked for left turn only. They look up to see the yellow light turn red. You think to yourself, “Holy cow, they stopped!” Both of you, waiting an eternity for the full cycle of the light sequence, look around at the magnificent surroundings. The turn arrow lights up. The rider looks both ways as they clip in and start off. You notice they ride right down the middle of the lane before again hanging their left arm out for a moment before grabbing their brakes, waiting for an oncoming motorist to pass before turning into a parking lot.
Later, as you head out of town, you see a red flash in front of you. Since your headlights automatically light up when it gets dark, you deduce it is a reflector you see. Sure enough, yet another dawdling nuisance who appears to be chugging away is in front of you. They must have been 600-feet away when you first noticed the flash of red. As you get closer, you chuckle to yourself. This rider apparently is not trying to disappear. They have reflectors on other parts of their bicycle, reflective clothing, and one of those annoying light cannons flashing away up front. You pass, noting it takes quite a while (at least 500-feet) before the front light isn’t visible.
Suddenly, you hear sirens and see flashing behind you. With a resigned sigh, you pull over and wait. During the racing thoughts of what the unmarked car with lights and sirens might be headed to, you notice (now that your mirror isn’t vibrating), that annoying light flashing away in a stationary position at the edge of the road well behind you.
Totally dumfounded by your observations today, you signal to re-enter the roadway after the unmarked car passes. One of those annoying voices inside your head is chattering away. You think out loud, “That went pretty well… All of my friends — those that think the worst of cyclists and those who think the worst of motorists — will think I’m full of fantasy.”
The next morning, out of curiosity, you peruse the Colorado Bicycling Manual: A Guide to Safe Bicycling. As you read, a bit of amusement overcomes you because everything from yesterday’s bicycle encounters is noted there. It turns out you, and the bicyclists you encountered, did everything correctly. More curious than usual, you look up the related Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.).
What you read leads you to believe that both bicycles and cars have equivalent legal consideration. Both share the same rights and responsibilities while using roadways. A flash of your memory reminds to an image at the museum of a bicycle hanging off a stagecoach. “I guess those human-powered, dawdling nuisances have been around a while,” pokes that internal voice again.
So that you remember which statutes to read over the next couple days, you write down the following C.R.S. numbers: 42-4-204, 42-4-221, 42-4-802, 42-4-803, 42-4-901, 42-4-903, 42-4-1002, 42-4-1007, 42-4-1412, and 18-9-116.
Background: This educational article is part of a weekly series through the month of June — part of “Colorado Bike Month.” Bike to Work, Bike to Play events are sponsored by the Town of Estes Park, Estes Park Medical Center, Estes Valley Recreation and Park District, Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park Cycling Coalition, Estes Valley Library, and the Estes Park Marathon. For more information on Bike to Work, Bike to Play events please visit www.visitestespark.com.
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