Spoke Talk: Routt County Riders provides bike etiquette refresher


Many cyclists already have been out on our Routt County roads this spring, but before the cycling season really gets cranked up it’s a good time to think about cyclists’ responsibilities when we “Share the Road.”

Bicycles are considered vehicles and are required to follow the same traffic rules as cars, trucks and motorcycles. Just like a car, bikes ride on the right-hand side of the roadway with the traffic flow and obey traffic signs and signals. Hand signals prior to turning and stopping always are appropriate.

Spoke Talk

Spoke Talk columns publish weekly in the Steamboat Today newspaper.

State law requires motor vehicles to give a 3-foot margin when they pass cyclists, and they almost always comply. Cyclists can do their part to make sure this happens by riding to the far right of the road surface as motor vehicles pass.

Probably the most contentious and often discussed breach of cycling etiquette is two or more bikes riding side-by-side (two abreast) as vehicles are approaching them.

When no cars are approaching from behind, it is fine to ride alongside your buddy and have a conversation. But as cyclists, it is our responsibility to know when traffic is coming up behind us and quickly begin riding single file as far to the right as safely possible before the auto has to slow.

The trick is to be constantly aware of the traffic. We can listen for vehicles approaching, we can periodically check over our shoulder and we can use rearview mirrors to improve our awareness of approaching vehicles.

Bikes and motor vehicles are not the only users of our roads in Routt County.

Ranchers sometimes move cattle and sheep on county roads to get from one pasture to another. If you encounter one of these events, rather than riding through or crowding the herd, the courteous action is to give them room and time to cross the road or get to a place where you can pass without spooking them. It could delay you a few minutes, perhaps longer, and you might even have to change your planned route. But if the animals get spooked and scatter it might take the working rancher all day to gather them and resume their move.

On a typical ride, most of us stop for snacks, rest, punctures, etc. While you are stopped, ensure you and your bike are completely off the road surface and be considerate of the nearby residents and property where you are stopped.

When we are not on our bikes, we all are motor vehicle drivers or pedestrians. Let’s ride the same way we would like cyclists to ride when we are behind the wheel.

Have a safe and fun cycling season, ride friendly and do your best to “Share the Road.”

Paul Matheny is a Routt County Riders member and volunteer president of the board.


John St Pierre 2 years, 12 months ago

No mention of Night time riding??????

Its getting out of hand with cyclists riding at night with no lights or any means of letting someone know they are there.... its particulary a problem downtown and behind the post office with cyclist blowing thru stop signs wearing dark clothing.... no lights or anything...

I guess its going to take someone getting injured before law enforcement insists on illumination on bicycles by the city fathers.....


jerry carlton 2 years, 12 months ago

Stopping at stop signs would be a nice gesture. Very rarely do I see a vehicle run a stop sign, but bicyclists run them very often. Too much trouble to take the shoe out of the clip.


Lee Cox 2 years, 11 months ago

How about the cars who never use their turn signals? It is tough to negotiate an intersection on a bike when you don't know where the cars are going. To the bicyclist who was riding up the left hand side of the road up towards the Hilton Gulch red schoolhouse the other night, please don't laugh when someone tells you the rules. To the biker stopped in the middle of CR35: I honked at you because you were standing in the middle of the road. To the biker who told me to slow down after the above incident: I already was 5 miles below the limit! As a driver and a biker, I am very aware of "Share the Road" and I am not afraid to use my horn when in a car or my voice when on my bike to aid in communication.


Dan Shores 2 years, 11 months ago

I find it particularly scary to be driving along 131 and see riders riding two abreast, conversing, and one of the riders flirting with, or going over the white line, while cars are going by at over 65 miles an hour. While there is probably nothing illegal about this activity, as a matter of self preservation I would be riding as far to the right and as far away from traffic as I could possibly get. All it would take would be one distracted driver, just one moment maybe texting, answering a phone or adjusting the radio and you could end up as road kill.


Lee Cox 2 years, 11 months ago

Sometimes when riding alone, I need to ride near the white line because of all of the crap on the shoulder. By the same token, when there is very little shoulder (or other obstacles), why can't drivers cross over the yellow line to give ample room to the cyclists, or if traffic is approaching, slow down for 30 to 60 seconds until it is safe to move over (not addressed to you, Dan). What is the reason drivers refuse to use the left lane when ascending Rabbit Ears Pass and passing a cyclist?


Jim Kelley 2 years, 11 months ago

As an avid road biker it absolutely pisses me off beyond words when I see riders of all abilities blow through stop signs. If bikers really wanted to improve there image (and they need to big time around here!) they would start respecting the traffic laws. Nothing will bring more negativity towards bikers than the continuing blatant disregard for simple traffic laws such as stopping at the stop sign. I truly wish that the Steamboat Springs Police would just set up at river road through Brooklyn and issue citations with real fines ($250+??). They would probably issue 100+ tickets in a short amount of time. It kills me when I see some of top level road riders completely ignore traffic laws as if they were racing a stage of the Tour De France and couldn't possibly let themselves be seen by their peers actually stopping for a stop sign! Guess what guys (and gals!),-----you aren't in the Tour de France. Your just being a *&^%^@#!!!


john bailey 2 years, 11 months ago

why they're even running the golf cart stop sign on Steamboat Boulevard , the nerve....i'll have to go with Dan S. on the 131 deal. please you guys stay safe and off to the far right its really not that hard. also with you Jim K. , perhaps a little more ass chewing by their bike peers to get the rest of them to straighten up. and again , the top of Yellow Jacket is not a great place to stop and congregate , I know the view is nice but like I said last year a head on is gonna happen sooner or later . see ya on the road , wheels in the proper position...~;0) hula may hula....


Dan Shores 2 years, 11 months ago

John B. reminded me of another issue that I have also seen many times on 14. Riders stopping and congregating at the crest of a hill, sometimes in traffic lanes. This is a very dangerous situation for all. Also please ride single file when approaching the crest of a hill or on blind corners. Just common courtesy to allow drivers to safely pass. Riders should remember that no matter what the law is, it doesn't change the fact that you are unprotected and messing with a 3,000 pound hunk of steel traveling at speed and being driven by someone with unknown skills. I'd play it on the safe side.


jerry carlton 2 years, 11 months ago

Pat says it is OK to run stop signs on a bike. Exactly the attitude that gives bikers a bad reputation with drivers and pedestrians in this valley. Get a lot from the article?


jerry carlton 2 years, 11 months ago

Running stop signs is against the law. Throwing tacks anywhere is against the law.{Littering}. Both should be apprehended and prosecuted. I have always been under the impression that riding a bicycle was for exercise so running a stop sign to "conserve energy" would seem to be a poor excuse. Glad to hear you are a responsible rider.


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