Colorado county mulls seeking more say over cyclists
GOLDEN, Colorado – Jefferson County may consider lobbying legislators to allow counties to ban bicyclists from certain roads, something that most cities can do.
The county commissioners started exploring the idea after denying a permit for a charity bicycle ride that was expected to draw up to 1,500 cyclists in September.
The commissioners denied the permit after hearing from residents on the event’s route through the mountains west of Denver from Conifer to Evergreen. Residents are worried about the growing number of conflicts between vehicles and cyclists on narrow mountain roads.
“There is a growing, serious issue of safety between bicyclists and the motoring public,” Jeffco Commissioner Kevin McCasky said. “Certain roads appear not to be safe to mix the two.”
Some drivers say a new law that takes effect Aug. 4 will aggravate problems. Cars will have to give bicycles 3 feet of space when passing, and bicyclists will be allowed to ride in the middle of lanes if the shoulders are unsafe.
County Commissioner Kathy Hartman said she wouldn’t back changes without the support of cycling groups.
“My primary concern is the level of animosity on both sides,” Hartman told the Daily Camera. “I certainly did not intend to throw gasoline on this one.”
Meanwhile, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle has appointed Scot Williams, a night watch commander, to ease tensions between motorists and bicycling groups.
“When I hear about people riding four or five abreast, we can get ahold of them and say, ‘Hey, you’ve got to stop,'” Williams said, adding that his work includes educating motorists of cyclists’ rights on the road.
“Hopefully, through those discussions, people will say, ‘OK, I understand the laws. I understand a car is a two-ton object and the bicyclists are maybe 200 pounds,'” he said.