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"Sharrow" Aims to Reduce Cyclist Personal Injuries

Colorado Springs has always drawn active and outdoorsy residents and visitors; cyclists in particular. Our scenic roads and challenging terrain are irresistible for riders. Cycling requires some amount of fearlessness towards personal injury. Still, riders participate in their sport at the mercy of the automobile drivers with whom they share the roads. Causing your own spill off a bicycle is one thing, incurring a personal injury because of an inattentive or reckless driver is another story.

Colorado legislation made some headway for riders nearly two years ago when the Bicycle Safety Act was signed into law on Aug. 5, 2009. We finally established some good, common sense behavior as the legal requirement of drivers and cyclists throughout the state. It’s hard to believe we had to make a law against the harassment of cyclists, but we did:  Throwing an object at a cyclist is now a Class 2 misdemeanor; while threatening a cyclist or crowding a cyclist with your vehicle are both careless driving offenses.

One of the more recognized rules established by the Bicycle Safety Act is one that cyclists from all 50 states are working to enforce. The “3 Feet Law” requires motorists give 3 feet of space between their vehicle and all cyclists sharing the road. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics show that 2% of all 2009 traffic fatalities were cyclists. The percentage of cyclist fatalities has been creeping up over the years even though the actual number of fatalities dropped in 2009. That means the “3 Feet Law” is a step in the right direction, but there’s still work to be done in the name of reducing fatal personal injuries to cyclists in Colorado and across the country.

This may be where representation by the people for the people comes in to play. Colorado Springs just elected a new city councilman who happens to be a cyclist, and Tim Leigh has hit the ground running with the creation of what he calls Colorado Springs’ first “shareway.”

Councilman Leigh has already raised half the funds needed to paint special bike-friendly markings on Pikes Peak Avenue/Colorado Avenue from Union Boulevard all the way to Manitou Springs. He calls the markings “Sharrows,” a clever hybrid of the words “share” and “arrow.” The Sharrows are to be painted every 250 feet as a courtesy reminder to drivers to move over and share the road with cyclists.

Here’s hoping Colorado Springs continues to lower our personal injury statistics involving cyclists. Maybe next year we will have edged our way into the Top 10 of America’s Best Bike Cities.

Keep up with Councilman Leigh’s and his progress on the Sharrows via Pikes Peak Sports.