Friday, June 19, 2009

Cyclist vs Driver

as reported in the Sun Times

"The fliers, which started appearing last week, a few days after a driver was ticketed on suspicion of endangering a cyclist, ask residents along the route of the annual cycling event to block the return leg of the ride.

"On July 25, in celebration of driver's rights, many cars will use the Left Hand Canyon Road, drive slowly and many may break down unexpectedly, blocking areas to the cyclists on the return leg of the 'Sunrise Century,'" the anonymous, one-page note reads. "Many cars and safe drivers all working together can send a message to the Statehouse to restrict cycling on our roads which are our only alternatives during family emergencies, commuting and required duties."

David Flores, 46, an avid cyclist who lives near Left Hand Canyon drives, said he and his neighbors found the fliers stuffed in their mailboxes June 11.

"There is nothing to be gained in trying to line the roads with cars to try and disrupt people on bicycles," Flores said.

Flores said the tone of the letter is obviously meant to incite a confrontation during the ride, despite its suggestion that pulling over to "inspect" vehicles for "engine trouble, sounds or other safety issues" is a form of civil disobedience.

"If that happens, there will be either an accident or some kind of confrontation," Flores said. "There are people who will go out of their way to light the powder keg on both sides."

Colorado State Patrol trooper David Hall said he shares that concern. He warned that drivers ought to think twice before trying to block the riders.

"We would highly discourage people from engaging in that behavior," Hall said. "It's illegal. You can't block the path of events or traffic."

The trooper said he receives calls daily from drivers complaining about bicyclists, but the issue is a two-way street.

"As frustrating as it might be for some, they (cyclists) have the right to use the roads," Hall said. "When we see bicyclists who are disregarding the rules of the road, we do enforce that.

"It's the individual responsibility of the bicyclists and the motorists to keep each other safe. We're not going to have a state trooper at every mile post."

Alex Hearn, organizer of the Sunrise Century ride for the past three years, said the event this year will be capped at 1,500 riders.

"We're trying to be a voice of calm and a voice of reason," Hearn said. "We just want to see everybody play nice."

The event planner said he plans to send e-mails to registered riders asking them to obey the rules of the road and report aggressive drivers.

Anita Riley, a Boulder County transportation planner, said the ride has been approved for a special-event permit.

That means Boulder County sheriff's deputies and state troopers will be stationed along the entire route, but cyclists have to obey regular traffic rules, and no roads will be closed for the event. Signs warning residents and drivers about the ride will also be posted."

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