Vail Daily editorial: Please, don’t be a jerk
We live in tense times, friends. Most of us get along fine most of the time, but it seems shouting too often substitutes for conversation in what passes these days for public discourse, and it’s not only on TV news or Twitter, either.
The Vail Valley is sliding into another summer of potential conflicts between bicyclists and motorists as they attempt to share our limited roadways.
Motorists can be jerks. Cyclists can be jerks. Happy Valley would be a good bit happier if those of us ready to yell, honk or fly that middle finger at perceived offenses took a moment to take a deep breath. That deep breath usually takes enough time that the need for instant, angry reaction passes.
But let’s make a deep-breath exception for the diesel pickup drivers who have, illegally, modified their rigs to belch thick, black smoke at cyclists, pedestrians or the drivers of hybrid cars. This smoke-belching, called “rolling coal,” was recently made illegal in Colorado. Coal-rollers are now subject to $100 fines if caught.
That sounds about right, since rolling coal is premeditated jerk behavior of the first order. Think whatever foul thoughts you please about these folks.
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For the rest of us, that deep breath in the face of offense should also be paired with a reminder about traffic laws that attempt to improve the interaction between cyclists and motorists.
The Bicycle Colorado website has these tips:
• Cyclists are obliged to obey all traffic laws and are asked to ride on the shoulder or right side of the road whenever possible — with exceptions for left turns, passing slower-moving traffic or if the right side of the road is unsafe for two-wheeled travel.
• Cyclists also can’t ride two abreast unless it doesn’t impede other traffic. That advice includes winding roads without bike lanes or shoulders.
The big one, at least from a motorist’s standpoint, applies to stoplights and stop signs. You’re supposed to stop. Yes, it’s a hassle, but you’re supposed to stop.
Extending courtesy on the roads applies to motorists, too, of course, especially since cyclists inevitably come out worse in a collision.
Like cyclists, motorists are expected to share the road and obey traffic laws, signs and signals.
Motorists passing cyclists need to allow at least three feet of space between their vehicle and the cyclists — this, like the coal-rolling prohibition, is the law.
Motorists are allowed to cross a double-yellow center stripe in the road in order to safely pass a cyclist — if it’s safe to do so. Otherwise, please slow down and wait.
Even with the number of cyclists in the valley, it’s unusual that we have conflicts between riders and drivers, but we do.
Please, everyone, share our valley’s roads. We need less, not more, tension in our lives right now, and it’s up to all of us to help.
The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Krista Driscoll and Business Editor Scott Miller.