In honor of Bike to Work Week, we are compelled to encourage residents to do just that.
As has been noted in Steamboat Today, biking to work promotes fuel efficiency, reduces emissions, lessens traffic and encourages healthy lifestyles. All of these are worthwhile and commendable goals that we support. We encourage residents to participate in the planned activities this week and to consider biking to work not only this week, but every week that weather and working conditions permit.
We would be remiss to advocate such an increase in bicycling without also addressing the contentiousness that occasionally flares between cyclists and motorists. As seen recently on the editorial pages of the Steamboat Pilot & Today, such exchanges can get heated. Sadly, such attitudes also can lead to people getting hurt.
By and large, we believe, the vast majority of cyclists and motorists are patient and courteous. The vast majority of cyclists and motorists willingly share the road. It tends to be a handful of drivers and cyclists who fuel disputes and put others at risk.
In light of that, we encourage everyone to brush up on Colorado law as it applies to bicycles, which can be found in Colorado Revised Statutes, 42-4-1412. At its core, the law gives bicyclists the same rights to the road as motorists, with some exceptions. A few are worth highlighting:
- Any person riding a bicycle shall ride in the right-hand lane. When being overtaken by another vehicle, a cyclist should ride as close to the right-hand side as practicable. Where a paved shoulder suitable for bicycle riding is present, persons operating bicycles shall ride on the paved shoulder.
- Persons operating bicycles on roadways shall ride single file; except that riding no more than two abreast is permitted when doing so will not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.
- When using streets and highways within incorporated cities and towns, bicyclists shall be subject to local ordinances regulating the operation of bicycles.
- No bicycle shall be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed.
- No person riding a bicycle shall be attached to any motor vehicle upon a roadway.
- Every person riding a bicycle shall signal the intention to turn or stop, with some specific exceptions.
- A person riding a bicycle along a sidewalk or pathway or across a roadway along a crosswalk shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrians.
Long-term, we support the development of more bicycle-specific trails and shoulders along roadways popular with cyclists such as Twentymile Road, Routt County Road 129 and Colorado Highway 131. Such trails would help reduce conflicts between motorists and cyclists. Also, state law allows municipalities to restrict bicycle use on roadways that have suitable bicycle-specific pathways near and parallel to the roadways.
Steamboat Springs is a biking community and growing that biking community will benefit our tourism-based economy in the long run. That benefits motorists and cyclists alike.
If you get the chance, bike to work this week, but make sure you know the rules of the road.