Vail Valley cyclists rally for shared roads
Avon, CO Colorado
AVON, Colorado ” When it comes to motorists and cyclists sharing the road, David McHugh said cars always win.
Vail Valley cyclists got together Wednesday for the second annual Ride of Silence here ” it was the seventh annual ride for cyclists around the world.
The Ride of Silence is like a procession ” cyclists silently ride in a straight row at a slow pace and reflect on all the cyclists who have died while sharing the roads, said Linda Guerrette, the local organizer of the ride.
“I feel pretty strongly about getting the word out about sharing the road,” she said.
Guerrette said the Ride of Silence is about making the road safe for everyone, from cyclists who log thousands of miles per year to the families out on an afternoon ride.
McHugh knows what can happen out there because his friend, Brett Malin, a Vail cyclist, was killed by a semi truck in New Mexico while riding in a race.
McHugh missed last year’s ride, but he made it Wednesday. He said not a day goes by that he doesn’t think about Malin, so he wanted to ride in his honor and help spread the word to motorists about sharing the road.
“(Motorists) should realize the car is going to win every time,” he said.
A new Colorado law, passed just this month, requires motorists to pass cyclists with at least 3 feet of space. Moving the steering wheel a couple of inches, McHugh said, could mean saving a life.
Steve Holland, a Vail cyclist, said the problem is that 3 feet could look like one thing to one driver, and a completely different distance to another. He just wants drivers to be more aware of cyclists and to share the road.
Guerrette spoke to the group of about 30 cyclists before they headed from the Beaver Creek Bear parking lot to Dowd Junction and back and told them to set examples for sharing the road, especially when they’re driving their cars.
The problem with cycling laws like the one Colorado just passed is that cyclists typically know about them, but motorists don’t, she said.
“Unfortunately, people around (cyclists) don’t necessarily know the same rights,” she said.
Another misconception is that bikers have bike paths wherever they go and should stay on them, she said. There are bike paths throughout the valley, but they’re not everywhere. The paths are often recreational paths, meaning cyclists might come across a woman pushing a stroller or someone out walking the dogs.
“A lot of times it’s actually safer to be on the road than on the bike paths,” she said.
While cyclists try to ride on paths whenever they can, many agree riding on the road is frightening.
“It scares the daylights out of me,” said Lauren Bailey, an Avon cyclist.
Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org