Drivers in southeastern Colorado will see increased traffic this Saturday when Bike with Pike Westcliffe Adventure launches its fall charity ride at 7 a.m. from the town of Westcliffe. An estimated 300 bicyclists are scheduled to make the 200-mile trip from Westcliffe to Colorado City by heading east on State Highway 96, south on State Highway 165, and back along the same route.
With this event in mind, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) reminds all Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Canon City, Alamosa and Trinidad area drivers, “Don’t be a Road Hog. Share the Road”. Bicyclists have the same rights to Colorado highways as automobile drivers.
That doesn’t mean bicycle riders have free reign on the roads, though. Equal access means equal obligation to follow the law. Bicyclists can be ticketed for the same infractions as automobile drivers.
Bicycle riders and car drivers can avoid piggish behavior – or even worse, bicycle vs. car accidents – on Colorado roads by remembering just a few tips:
- TAKE A BRAKE: Reduce vehicle speed when sharing the road with bicyclists.
- 3 FEET TO PASS: Leave at least three feet between the car and the bicyclist.
- SCAN, THEN TURN: Scan for bicyclists before making turns in either direction.
- KEEP RIGHT: Bicyclists must ride with traffic and stay as far to the right as possible.
- SINGLE FILE : Ride single-file whenever possible. Riding more than two abreast impedes the flow of motorized traffic.
- SIGNAL FIRST: Learn and use the proper hand signals to alert nearby vehicles of plans to stop, turn or make a lane change.
Of course, being a “road hog” is less of a concern than being “road kill”. Bicyclists are highly vulnerable to accidents and injuries while traveling alongside motor vehicles and, therefore, need to be proactive towards ensuring their own safety. As a reminder:
- Dress appropriately for the weather and wear bright, visible colors.
- Wear a helmet, and wear it correctly. About 75 percent of all bicycle rider fatalities are caused by head injuries. Wearing a helmet reduces head injury risk by 88%.
- When riding between dusk and dawn, use a headlight and tail light or tail reflectors so motor vehicle drivers can see you.
- Always assume you haven’t been seen; and always expect the unexpected.
Staying focused is the final, master key to safe sharing of the roads among drivers and bicycle riders. Each vehicle driver or bicyclist needs to stay aware of all the other vehicles in the area at all times and also avoid the distraction of cell phones and other personal devices while driving. (Don’t forget that new texting law!)
Dig deeper into bicycle safety, Colorado bicycling laws, and get more tips for sharing the road from the Colorado Department of Transportation Bike Manual.