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 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.