Our View: Ride a bike; obey the laws | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Ride a bike; obey the laws

The average price of a gallon of unleaded gas tops $4 across the county – and much of the country. Traffic through downtown Steamboat Springs is as heavy as ever, and the height of summer tourist season is upon us. And to top it all, the weather the past couple of weeks screams for outdoor recreation.

Biking to work – and simply biking in general – promotes fuel efficiency, reduces emissions, lessens traffic and encourages healthy lifestyles.

But an increase of cyclists on the road also increases the chance for conflicts with motorists. Bike to Work Week thus serves as an occasion to freshen up on Colorado law as it applies to bicycles. State law (Colorado Revised Statutes 42-4-1412) gives cyclists the same rights to the road as motorists. There are some notable exceptions:

1. Any person riding a bicycle shall ride in the right-hand lane. When being overtaken by another vehicle, such person shall 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.

2. Persons operating bicycles on roadways shall ride single file; except that riding no more than two abreast is permitted when riding two abreast will not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic. Persons riding two abreast shall ride within a single lane.

3. Every person riding a bicycle shall signal the intention to turn or stop; except that a person riding a bicycle may signal a right turn with the right arm extended horizontally.

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4. A person riding a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk or pathway or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian.

5. A person shall not ride a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk or pathway or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk where such use of bicycles is prohibited by official traffic control devices or local ordinances.

The city of Steamboat Springs has taken steps in recent years to become more “bicycle friendly.” More work is needed, such as the proposed addition of bike lanes and designated bike routes along numerous city streets. And, especially in busy summer months, it benefits all to follow cycling regulations and use common courtesy on local pathways such as the Yampa River Core Trail.

Routt County Road 129 and Colo. Highway 131 remain two of the most popular – and dangerous – area roads for cyclists. County officials have said they continuously look at ways to improve area roads for all users, including cyclists. Funding the costs of such improvements usually is cited as the No. 1 obstacle for moving forward with the work.

Unfortunately, our county commissioners whiffed on an opportunity Tuesday to maintain an existing wide shoulder lane for cyclists when they voted, 2-1, to narrow the shoulder along Routt County Road 36 through Strawberry Park.

The proposal was brought forward by Strawberry Park resident Geneva Taylor, wife of state Sen. Jack Taylor. Geneva Taylor, the only one to publicly support her proposal Tuesday, said the 9-foot lanes are simply too narrow for safe driving. Commissioners Nancy Stahoviak and Doug Monger agreed.

Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush sided with the more than one dozen residents who advocated for keeping the larger shoulder lane. A group of Strawberry Park homeowners even promised $1,000 for increased signage along the straight, open section of highway if the commissioners kept the lane format as it currently exists.

In this case, the majority lost out, and Routt County took a step backward in its support of cycling and other recreational uses of our roadways. We hope to spread the opposite message on Bike to Work Week and Bike to Work Day, which is today.

Responsible cycling is healthy for our environment and our bodies, and when motorists and cyclists understand and obey the law, we can share our roads with minimal conflicts between users.