Vail Valley riders remember fallen cyclists
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – West Vail resident Jamie Malin knows all too well the dangers of cycling – his brother, Brett Malin, was killed by a semi truck while cycling and Jamie Malin himself was hit head-on by an SUV just a few years later.
Incidents like those are why cyclists all around the world come together for the Ride for Silence on the third Wednesday of every May. Cyclists ride together in a single-file line in silence, to remember those who have been injured or have lost their lives while trying to share the road with motorists.
Linda Guerrette organizes the local Ride for Silence. She may have rode alone on Wednesday – the 30 or so people who rode with her last year didn’t show up likely because of the poor weather – but it didn’t change the cause for which she was riding.
“For me, today is surreal in a way because I’m riding to honor people who have died,” Guerrette said. “It’s about the cause, which is highlighted even more on a dreary, rainy day.”
Jamie Malin, who was out of town Wednesday and couldn’t make it to the Ride for Silence, said there are too many misconceptions out there about cycling. He said that drivers who think cyclists should be on the recreation paths don’t realize there are many dangers that go along with riding on those paths, too.
There are people jogging, walking their dogs or pushing baby strollers on those paths – people who will end up hurt if a cyclist riding 25 to 30 miles per hour hits them.
“When you ride on the road, you’re taking that chance for yourself instead of putting those people in harm’s way,” Jamie Malin said.
Jamie Malin commutes nearly 12 miles each way in the summertime from his West Vail home to his Edwards business, The Kind Bikes and Skis in Riverwalk. He said drivers in the Vail Valley are generally good about sharing the road, but they could be better.
The Colorado General Assembly passed a law last year that requires motorists to pass cyclists with at least 3 feet between them. Colorado law also says that “every person riding a bicycle shall have all of the rights and duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle.”
Motorists don’t always realize that cyclists have the same rights, Guerrette said.
She and Jamie Malin aren’t pointing their fingers only at drivers, though. They said cyclists can also be blamed for carelessness on the roads.
When there’s a shoulder on the road, cyclists should use it, Guerrette said. And when there’s no shoulder, motorists need to pay more attention, she said.
“There needs to be education on both sides,” Guerrette said.
There are too many incidents of drivers buzzing by cyclists with just inches between the two, though, Jamie Malin said. He said it happens to him about once a week in the summertime when he’s commuting to and from work.
“I think they’re not paying attention, or maybe they think it’s funny,” he said.
The consequences are too tragic to play games like that on the road. For Jamie Malin, he’s reminded of it every day when he crosses the Dowd Junction bike path bridge that was dedicated in his brother’s memory.
“It’s about more than the 3-feet law,” Jamie Malin said. “Just be aware of what can happen.”
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or email@example.com.