Officials urge alertness

Cyclists, motorists asked to help prevent accidents

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Members of Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue work to backboard an accident victim at the intersection of Central Park Drive and Mt. Werner Road in Steamboat Springs on June 29. Emergency services were dispatched at 2:14 p.m. to respond to a cyclist who ran a red light and was struck by a shuttle bus in the intersection.

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A bent wheel from Katherine Ingalls' bike lays across a lane of traffic on southbound Hwy 129 outside Steamboat Springs on June 29. Ingalls was biking on the shoulder of Hwy 129 with her mother when she accidently swerved in front of a tractor-trailer which partially ran over her legs. Sixteen-year-old Ingalls was listed in "good' condition at Denver Health Medical Center as of Tuesday.

— A rash of accidents involving bicyclists and cars has city, county and state officials urging residents to be aware of their surroundings when driving and cycling.

Three separate accidents sent three female cyclists to the hospital during the past week. The most serious was that involving 16-year-old Katherine Ingalls, who was flown to Denver with a broken pelvis and leg after colliding with a semitrailer on Routt County Road 129.

Officials say accidents such as Ingalls' serve as reminders that while some collisions are inevitable, many can be avoided with awareness and mutual respect.

"This is a society that thrives on mutual respect," said George Krawzoff, the city's director of transportation. "Whether you're a cyclist and a car is in your way, or you're a driver and a bicyclist is in your way, we have to show respect, patience and, frankly, be responsible for our actions."

Krawzoff, an avid cyclist and proponent of making Steamboat Springs a bicycle-friendly community, said as cycling continues to gain in popularity, it is important for motorists and bicyclists to be patient.

"I'm living proof that you can ride your bike in Colorado for 35 years safely on virtually any road," he said.

Making roads safer

As a means to make Steamboat Springs roads a little safer for users, officials are in the process of implementing the Bicycle Friendly Community Initiative, which would designate the city as bicycle-friendly.

As part of the initiative, city officials are working to notify the public about the creation of designated bike routes and specific bike lanes, which would be designated by white road stripes on streets designated for bicycle use.

"We have the (Yampa River) Core Trail to fulfill all the needs it does right now, but we also need bike routes on the streets, which is what we're doing right now," Krawzoff said.

Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said county officials always have been active in making county roads safer for all users, including motorists, bicyclists, walkers and runners.

A capital infrastructure plan to improve some county roads is being developed right now, she said.

"Basically, what we do when we've identified a county road that is heavily used (is) we put up additional 'Share the road' signs," she said. "That's our way of notifying people that they are going to be on a road with a variety of mixed users."

Conversations about improving shoulders and widening River Road and Routt County roads 129 and 14 are ongoing, she said.

"The challenge with implementing any road improvement or infrastructure is where we get the money to do that," she said.

Financing for such improvement projects could come from county resources as well as putting a mill levy before the voters, she said.

In the meantime, Stahoviak said she hopes all road users will be cautious and aware of each other to prevent further accidents.

"We as Routt County commissioners will do what we can to improve the safety of some of our roads, recognizing that there will be some roads we can't do that for," she said. "The bottom line is that we have to share to road. That's the reality in Routt County."

Shared responsibility

While motorists and bicyclists have rights to use public roads and highways, they also have the shared responsibility of respecting each other while using those roads.

"Hopefully these events have woken a few people up," said Brad Cusenbary, president of Routt County Riders, a local bicycle club. "It's unfortunate we've had the rash of accidents we've had, but there's no magic solution to this. There's no pill we can all take or something that we can do next week that will alleviate accidents 100 percent."

Instead, education and public awareness is the most effective way to stress the importance of safety for all road users, he said.

"I think we as a community are going in the right direction with what we're trying to do," he said. "We've been trying to reach out to both bicyclists and motorists in promoting awareness. My only message would be to please share the road. It goes both ways."

Colorado State Patrol Trooper Gilbert Mares said accidents involving bicyclists and motorists increase in spring and summer.

"We always see an increase in pedestrian or bicycle-related and vehicle accidents as we come into the warmer months," he said. "Motorists should always be aware of anything on the roadway, whether it's bicycles, pedestrians or animals. Likewise, bicyclists should be aware of what is going on around them. It should run hand in hand."

Mares said there only has been one cyclist fatality in Colorado since Jan. 1. There were nine cyclist deaths in 2006, and eight in 2005, he said.

Dan Grunig, executive director of Denver-based Bicycle Colorado, agreed that educating the public is a key component to prevent accidents.

"To reduce crashes we have to modify the behavior of the bicyclist, modify the behavior of the motorist and improve the design of our roads," he said. "With good training and teaching we can prevent crashes."

Comments

quietone 7 years ago

Let me say something, I hear this conversation all the time around town, why don't you make the bikers get a license like motorists, that way you can use that money too fix the roads up or whatever you need too use it for. I know there are some people that are going too be like that isn't fair, well plenty of other cities have done that in order too make the roads better for bikers. Another great reason to do it is so they know the bikers on the road know road safety because obviously most don't. The other great reason for it is so we can report them for riding 5 or 6 a course a narrow road or whatever law they are breaking at that time, its a way too track them, which is badly needed. I personally have seen them run red lights many times right in front of me pulling a trailer barely missing them its just going too happen more if you don't do something about the bikers. Well all I'm going too say too this topic for the moment.

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stillinsteamboat 7 years ago

The cyclist in the picture above on Central Park Dr. lost many of her teeth in the accident. She is from overseas and has no family here. From what I understand she was here as a guest worker @ City Market and has no dental insurance. Wish we could come together as a community and help her with her dental restoration. Is there a dentist in the house?

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Jean 7 years ago

Oh great, now tracking bicycles??? Why don't we all just have chips put in our ears, so we can be tracked 100 percent of the time. Maybe City Market can take up a collection.

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madmoores 7 years ago

As we were driving up to Fishcreek on Saturday, a lone biker was right smack dab in the middle of the road, grannying up the hill on the double yellow stripe. Do I honk? No, will only irritate them. Cannot pass him as he is riding on the stripe. Revved the engine a couple times to let him know there were cars behind him, to no avail. A long trip at 11mph to say the least as he refused to move over, even a little bit. How about the ones that ride Yampa St., IN THE STREET(4-5 wide), instead of on the bike path. BIKE path, what a concept!! Something needs to be done to identify these outlaw cyclists so that we motorists can turn them in for innapropriate behavior just like they can turn the motorists in. A tag on the bike, like a plate on a car, would suffice along with a license given only after a training course on how to ride the road safely and smart. Maybe as an addition to when they register the vehicle. I'll do it, no problem at all. I agree 100% that we need to watch out for each other, but the sole responsibility DOES NOT lie on the motorist alone. Motorists, GET OFF THE PHONE and pay attention. Cyclists, LOOK BEHIND YOU every now and then. Simple. Effective. Safe.

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yampa 7 years ago

I work in a very biker friendly office and think we need to encourage more bike to work activities. However, we need to emphasize that bike riders also need to follow the rules of the road the same as motorized vehicles! This means stopping at red lights and stop signs, signaling for turns and they are required to ride single file.

These simple expectations will make everybody safer!

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id04sp 7 years ago

$$$$$$$$

Figure out how many yards of earth would have to be moved, etc., to add a bike path in both directions and you've got your answer.

Cars, trucks, buses, etc., pay fuel taxes to fund road construction. Bikes pay NOTHING. Where's the fairness in constructing something so expensive when it does not aid the people paying the taxes that fund construction?

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madmoores 7 years ago

License the bikes and let the revenue from that pay for it. Find yourself out there without a license and pay a hefty fine. Sign me up!!!

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Hadleyburg_Press 7 years ago

SBvor, I agree with your conclusions and solution to the cycling issues in Steamboat. HP

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tismyself 7 years ago

madmoores...he took the lane to keep from being run off the road by impatient drivers. A double yellow line means it wasn't safe for you to pass on the hill anyway, hence he responsibly took the lane. If someone was coming up the other side, then what? Hit the cyclist and send them flying to get back in your lane?

Bicycles are vehicles and are entitled to use (most) roads the same as cars. Whether or not there is a bike path. Often bike paths are unsafely designed because of the many crosswalks that are in them to get across side streets. Sometimes they are littered with glass and trash.

It's true there are people on bicycles that don't have a clue what they are doing. The same can be said of some drivers too.

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jmhearts 7 years ago

that picture of kat's bike wheel is scaring. shiver. she's back home i heard. i do love that girl!

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madmoores 7 years ago

tismyself, I as a biker would have stopped, pulled my bike off the road and let traffic pass. Are road bikers incapable of this? This is where the line of courtesy is drawn. Share the road does not apply to some. Gee, my mistake for not desiring to follow a roadhog at 10 mph.

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filtersweep 7 years ago

The roads would be much safer if they banned motorized vehicles from using them. Roads were originally intended for pedestrians, horses, and bicycles. Prior to allowing cars on the road, there were very few accidents involving serious injuries.

Seriously, for all the scofflaws on bikes that people like to point out, it seems every driver is speeding, rolling through stop signs, running late "yellows"--- I could go on and on.

Secondly, regarding roads in the US, your vehicle and gas taxes would be exponentially higher if usage tax fully paid for their creation and maintenance. Enough comes out of general funds that everyone should have a right to use them--- never mind the fact that a great majority of cyclists also own vehicles.

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Vince arroyo 7 years ago

A Campaign to make steamboat a Bicycling friendly community. Renamed to a Road Awarenesses Campaign? We all use the roads/core trail,etc. In some fashion or another. It would be nice for all to respect each and everyone's choice of transportation. It does start with each one of us. Taking responsibly for our own actions.

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tismyself 7 years ago

As far as taxes paying for roads, where I live the local roads are paid for with property taxes via levies. Does that mean that as a property owner I have more right to use the road than any car driving renter when I'm out cycling? Most cyclists also own and drive cars anyway. People who don't drive at all don't buy gas, in theory lessening the demand and keeping the price cheaper. Taxes from gas and fees for registration hardly pays for all the road system. Every tax paying American contributes. Society is a give and take for the greater good.

A cyclist isn't obliged to get off the road every time a car wants to pass, but when a string of traffic accumilates. Then there must be a safe place to wait for them to do so. 10 miles up hill isn't too bad really if the hill is fairly inclined. I'd like to see any bike hostile driver to it themselves. If I'm out for pleasure riding I avoid heavy traffic times and opt for Sundays or very early morning before rush hour or after around 7 pm. My commute to work is at 5:30 pm and since I can usually keep up with traffic in town due to lights, it has never been a problem. Too many drivers think share the road means cyclists can ride until a car comes along.

Sometimes cyclists are purposely cut off, buzzed, clipped, run off the road, cursed at, threatened, you name it. Sometimes you've got the hold your place and fight for what's your right so you don't lose it entirely.

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