OK children, it’s time to share
In the same way that I believe most motorists don’t wish to run down cyclists, I believe that most cyclists do their best to steer clear of cars.But I also feel that sharing is easier for most 2-year-olds than it is for a small handful of motorists and cyclists on Highway 6 in Eagle County.But, like 2-year-olds with different toys between them and the same limited play area, we have to learn to share.Bicycles have as much right to be on the road as any other vehicle. Below, you’ll find the easy-to-read summary (from Bicycle Colorado) of some the most recent Colorado bicycle statutes, issued in July of 2005:Bicyclists have all the rights and duties applicable to the driver of any
other vehicle and can be penalized for violating traffic laws.Ride on the right, never ride against traffic.Ride in the right lane, except when passing another vehicle, preparing for a left turn or avoiding hazards.Ride on paved shoulders and bike lanes when present and free of hazards.Ride no more than two abreast, returning to single-file when cars are passing.
On curving canyon roads, play it safe and ride single file.Obey traffic laws, signs and signals.Use hand signals to indicate left or right turns, slowing or stopping.Use a headlight, taillight and reflectors at night.Make eye contact with drivers.Never assume motorists see you or that you have the right-of-way.Expect the unexpected; your first responsibility is to be safe.
Yes, Hwy. 6 is a busy street; busy by Eagle County standards – meaning that if it’s rush hour or high season and there’s a steady line of cars, some of which are going 40 mph instead of 55, it’s maddening to some drivers (who should take a trip to just about anywhere else in the country to remind themselves of what real traffic is like).Contrary to the mindset of some motorists, cyclists really do try to get as far to the right as they can manage when riding on the road. Most cyclists are acutely aware of the fact that their 15-pound bike with wheels like paper clips doesn’t stand a chance against a tank-like SUV. Or a Ford Fiesta. Or a Miata.The thing is, anyone who’s ridden a bike with skinny tires knows that a dirt shoulder, complete with holes and cracks and piles of sand like the one on Hwy. 6, which amounts to about two inches between the white line and the railing in some places, is not the safest of places to pedal. As far as I can tell, when thinking along the lines of Colorado bike laws, the shoulder on Hwy. 6 qualifies as a “hazard.” That’s why that white line and the lane itself are the only places to ride a bike on much of Hwy. 6. It’s also why we see all those yellow signs with the little car and the little cyclist that say “Share the Road.” Why do cyclists have to ride on Hwy. 6 at all? Because it’s the only place for us to ride continuously save on Interstate 70 between Gypsum and Eagle-Vail. And no, many of us don’t want to ride there. There is a recreation path on parts of that stretch, but not all of it – not between Edwards and Eagle, for example, where the shoulder on the highway is especially nonexistent. Riding on Hwy. 6 makes me nervous. But you know what? On beautiful spring days, especially when it’s going to be weeks before most of the area’s mountain bike trails are usable, I’d much rather be traveling through the valley on a bike than inside a car. In doing so, I respect how much room cars and trucks need to continue safely on their way, and knowing that most motorists – inside their powerful vehicles that could crush my bike like an aluminum can – have the same awareness about me, sharing seems pretty simple. We’re all adults, after all.Sports Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext.14632, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado