Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Steamboat Springs There were more than two hours of discussion, and the way things were going, there could have been four, six or even eight more. Following Wednesday morning’s Coffee and a Newspaper roundtable, a discussion that focused on the troubled relationship between bicyclists and other road and trail users, two things were clear.
First, there are a lot of issues and angles. Second, a lot of people care.
More than two dozen concerned residents packed into the Steamboat Pilot & Today conference room, many of them stopping by before work and most of them unafraid to voice their opinions. The group accounted for a cross-section of the community.
There was Marsha Daughenbaugh, a multigenerational rancher from rural Routt County who spoke about the conflicts between bikes and trucks, bikes and farm equipment and even bikes and cows.
“There’s a lack of patience and understanding,” Daughenbaugh said, pointing most specifically at problems that arise when cyclists aren’t willing to wait as a rancher moves livestock across a road.
“Once they’re scattered, it can take hours to round them back up, and the cyclists don’t know that. They’ve ridden on,” she said. “It’s only 5 percent that are causing the trouble.”
Scott Berry said he’s dismayed by top-end riders who refuse to mount rearview mirrors on their helmets.
Aryeh Copa, an avid mountain biker, expressed his frustration with cyclists who don’t follow the rules and his admiration for those who do. He suggested drivers offer a thumbs up or thumbs down out their window after encountering cyclists, perhaps letting them know whether he or she was a problem without the blood-boiling gesture of the middle finger.
Most expressed frustration at encountering road cyclists riding two and three abreast who moved slowly or not at all into a single-file line. Or cyclists who run red lights and stop signs, especially when there is traffic around. Or vehicles that don’t move over while passing to give riders a safe cushion.
A need for respect was reiterated again and again.
Two hours of discussion helped many who attended reach agreement on a few points. One was enforcement.
“We’ve reached the consensus that we want more enforcement,” said Steve Williams, a member of Routt County’s Multi-Modal Transportation Advisory Committee.
Williams came equipped with Share the Road stickers. As a local rancher, a regular cyclist and a member of the Share the Road group, he made clear that he’s heard most of the arguments on all sides of the issue.
“There are no easy answers,” he said.
Steamboat Springs Police Chief Joel Rae took it all in. He said he’s heard the requests for more enforcement, but he stopped short of saying his officers would begin issuing more tickets for minor cycling infractions.
He said education and discretionary enforcement could go a long way.
“I hear requests for increased enforcement, and we can do that,” he said, “but common sense is the key.”
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com