Austin Cycling News

Cycling in Austin

Cyclists, We don’t like your kind.

By • Aug 1st, 2008 • Category: Stuff I found on the web

If there is a platinum city for wonderful places to bicycle, this one gets the lump of coal award.

The article really shines once you read the comments, real gems like:

“If you can’t start out as fast or maintain the same speed as a car, then you shouldn’t be in traffic. If you’re doing 30 MPH in a 35 MPH zone, then you get what you deserve…”

I do that all the time when I drive my van.  I regularly go 28-30mph in a 35.  And I never start out at 35mph I always start out at 0.   Maybe that is why so many motorists want a car that can do 0-60 in 4 seconds.

Here is the article:

Cyclists run afoul of law in Larimer County

Comments 58 | Recommend 3

Some say sheriff has it in for them


FORT COLLINS • In the feud between motorists and cyclists, the hour was high noon.

A lawman stopped two visitors on a quiet county road and warned them their behavior wouldn’t be tolerated. Their transgression: riding their two-wheeled steeds side by side instead of falling into single file when an automobile approached.

“Don’t let the sun set on your behind in my county,” is how the cyclists heard the deputy’s warning.

Or maybe he said, “If you stay in Dodge, be prepared to follow the rules or suffer the consequences,” as the sheriff later would say.

Either way, they were fighting words that shook a fragile truce between Colorado motorists and bicyclists and asked anew whether the two groups can co-exist on the state’s roads.

As in other parts of the country, tensions between cyclists and motorists are considerable. Drivers complain about cyclists whizzing down mountain roads, oblivious to cars. Riders say drivers veer dangerously close and toss soda cans at them.

Larimer County draws cyclists by the hundreds for its quiet country roads and scenic beauty. Fort Collins is lauded for its bike-friendliness.

But in the county’s rural areas, some residents have grown weary of the Spandex-clad athletes who fill the roads every weekend, said Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden, who stands accused of sharing their prejudices.

The sheriff also takes potshots at Boulder, which produces some of Larimer’s cyclists. In a recent column on the sheriff ’s Web site, Alderden wrote, “Don’t you just love this time of year, when the birds, boats and cyclists come out? Well, two out of three ain’t bad.”

This spring, Alderden’s deputies stepped up their efforts to rein in those they saw as violators — cyclists who rode two abreast, requiring motorists to edge into oncoming lanes to avoid them.

Among those stopped in May were two riders from Boulder. They said Deputy Brian Ficker told them that he didn’t appreciate Boulder cyclists in his county and told them to return there or face a ticket. Because they were not ticketed, authorities did not release their names, and the cyclists did not identify themselves in an account circulated throughout the cycling community.

Alderden disputed their account. “It wasn’t ‘Get out of Dodge,’” he said. “He told them, ‘This is the law. You might get away with it in Boulder County, but in Larimer County, we enforce the statutes.’ ”

In the ensuing coverage, barbs flew. Some accused the sheriff of being an overweight, lazy man jealous of the cyclists’ fitness; Alderden called cyclists arrogant and said that Spandex affected their sense of humor. “There’s a sense of entitlement to do whatever they want. They’re environmentally conscious, and everyone else is a fat pig,” he said.

But the flap also revealed a division of opinion over the law.

State law permits cyclists to ride two abreast, as long as they don’t impede the normal flow of traffic.

To Alderden, that meant they should move into single-file if a car approached. Bicycle advocates, including the author of the bill, see it differently. It’s OK for a car to drive around two cyclists, just as it might for a slowmoving farm vehicle, said state Sen. Greg Brophy. “I don’t believe it’s unreasonable for a car to come off cruise control,” he said.

Bicycles also are vehicles on the road, noted Dan Grunig, executive director of Bicycle Colorado. If there are more bikes than cars on a particular road, then perhaps they constitute the normal flow of traffic, he said. “It’s a point for discussion. You can’t assume traffic is only motorized.”

Despite a recent meeting called to find common ground, the two sides reached no consensus. Brophy said the law should be clarified, something he intends to address next year. Until then, Alderden said he would continue to enforce the law as he interprets it.

A long-term solution would require revamping Colorado’s roads, Grunig and Brophy said.

In Colorado, growth has encroached on traditionally rural areas, where two-lane roads have become major commuter routes, Grunig said. “Those are the routes that recreational cyclists use,” he said. “When there’s a big shoulder on the road, there’s not conffict. People get along fine.”

Safety is paramount, said one Boulder cyclist, who said he could understand the sheriff ‘s point of view.

“The car is much bigger than the bike,” said Donald Cicchillo, president of the Boulder Cycling Club, who recently came upon the aftermath of a fatal bicycle crash. “We want to share the road, but my philosophy is be safe.”

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