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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bicycle-motorist showdown in Colorado

The Belleville News-Democrat subscribes to the Washington Post-Los Angeles Times news service, and I happened to come across this Los Angeles Times article tonight about problems between cyclists and motorists in Larimer County, Colo.

Here's an excerpt from the story:
A lawman stopped two visitors on a quiet county road and warned them that their behavior wouldn't be tolerated in these parts.

Their transgression: riding their two-wheeled steeds side-by-side instead of falling into single file when an automobile approached.

"Don't let the sun set on your behind in my county" is how the cyclists heard the deputy's warning.

Or maybe he said, "If you stay in Dodge, be prepared to follow the rules or suffer the consequences," as the sheriff would later say.

Either way, they were fighting words that shook a fragile truce between Colorado motorists and bicyclists and raised anew the question of whether the two groups can coexist on the state's roads.
Some residents have grown weary of cyclists who fill the roads every weekend, said Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden.

"Don't you just love this time of year, when the birds, boats and cyclists come out? Well, two out of three ain't bad," Alderden said in his May 20 column on the Larimer County Sheriff's Office Web site.

As in most states -- including Illinois and Missouri -- Colorado law allows cyclists to ride two abreast, as long as they don't impede the normal flow of traffic.

In the May 20 column, Alderden wrote: "We have been receiving complaints about cyclists hogging the road in the southern part of the county so we have stepped up our presence. Not surprisingly, many of these cyclists cop an attitude when stopped. Also not surprising, many of the cyclists with attitudes are part of the Boulder cycling community."

Alderden's department interprets the law as saying cyclists should ride single file when a vehicle approaches. Bicycle advocates disagree.

It's OK for a car to drive around two cyclists, just as they might for a slow-moving farm vehicle, state Sen. Greg Brophy, the author of the Colorado law, told the Times. "I don't believe it's unreasonable for a car to come off cruise control," he said.

Given recent problems with jury verdicts, the attitudes of some motorists and vandalism that flattened tires in Iowa and Missouri, it looks like those of us who are bicycle advocates have a lot of work to do.

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Roger 1 comments links to this post 12:07 AM

Those cops may be related to the one from Clinton, Iowa who gave me a ticket recently.

About 15,000 bikers rolled into LeClaire, Iowa in the RAGBRAI event this past Sunday.

I figured if 15,000 lemmings could roll across the land, one real person, me could row across the river with his bike on the front of his inflatable kayak.

It was a great ride until I got about three quarters of the way over to "Ioway" then this DNR (Department of Natural Resources) boat pulled up and some scowly faced river cop gave me a ticket for no having no life jacket on board.

When I said, "I hope all those people bobbing around in those boats have life jackets, and he said, "If you want to cop an attitude (copping an attitude himself) I'll just take you in and you can bond out and we'll impound your kayak and bike."

I thought, all the above might mean I'd have to spend the night in Ioway and no man in or out of his right mind wants to have to do that. So I said I'm sorry, even though I hated to do it, and I talked nice.

But, I'm going to court and plead not guilty if the cop isn't there, or if he shows up I'll plead guilty but I'll respectfuylly request that the judge change the charge to a warning ticket if no one else was ticketed that day.

I'll admit that we don't have the right to pick and choose the laws we obey, but the police also don't have the right to select who has to obey the laws and who doesn't have to.
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