Our View: Don’t worry, be happy and share the road
August 20, 2014
The recent traffic congestion in Steamboat is testing travelers’ patience.
Let’s avoid potential conflicts between motorists and cyclists during this time by reinforcing the “Share the Road” message.
Lighted "Road Work Ahead" signs mark the east and west entrances to downtown Steamboat Springs, and since the first of August, anyone traveling through town most likely has experienced congested traffic and travel delays.
The ongoing U.S. Highway 40 construction project has tested the patience of motorists and even has led to sporadic incidents of road rage. In the past two weeks, the Steamboat Pilot & Today has received several phone calls and a letter to the editor concerning the need, especially during the highway construction project, for motorists and cyclists to practice "Share the Road" principles that have become the norm on Routt County roadways in recent years. These calls have come from cyclists and motorists alike.
When a trip through town that usually takes 10 minutes turns into a 20- or 30-minute waiting game, it's easy to understand that tempers will flare. We encourage motorists to plan ahead, give themselves some extra drive time and simply take a deep breath when, inevitably, they find themselves stopped by the flag crew.
And, we remind local residents, that the situation always could be worse. Instead of being surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery during a temporary road project, you could be stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on a four-lane super highway during every morning and evening commute.
As a result of the congestion caused by the U.S. 40 construction, cyclists and motorists are finding themselves in closer proximity to one another, and there is the potential for increased conflicts between the two groups of travelers. Motorists need to be on the lookout for cyclists, and bike riders, in turn, should be courteous of drivers as they navigate on two wheels through the road construction areas.
For the most part, we think the majority of cyclists and motorists are patient with one another and are following the state laws that govern how both groups are to interact when using the roadways.
In light of the current congestion, we'd like to highlight a few specifics of the law that could help keep the potential for conflict at bay.
■ Motorists should be reminded that state law gives bicyclists the same rights to the road as motorists with a few exceptions as noted below.
■ Motorists are required to give a 3-foot margin when they pass cyclists, should pass only when it's safe and never pass a cyclist in a blind corner or hill crest.
People riding bikes need to ride in the right-hand lane and use the paved shoulder of a road when available and safe.
Cyclists should ride single file when traffic is approaching or around congestion and never three or more abreast.
Bicycles are considered vehicles and are required to follow the same traffic rules as cars, trucks and motorcycles.
We realize that as Steamboat's Bike Town USA brand grows, there will be more and more bicycles on the roadways, so now is as good a time as any to reinforce the Share the Road message. This community has made great strides when it comes to motorists and cyclists learning to coexist on local roadways, and it's important that the multi-modal message continue to be championed, especially during stressful travel times when the concept can be tested.
In the end, it's a matter of sharing the road and practicing mutual respect, and we know Steamboat Springs residents are up for the challenge.