Colorado’s “cyclist lawyer” attends county meeting between bicyclists and motorists
My name is Megan Hottman. I'm an avid rider and also make my living representing bicyclists as "TheCyclist-Lawyer.com"
I recently attended a meeting in Jefferson County, Colorado related to the local tensions among bicyclists and motorists. The meeting also engaged homeowners who live on the mountain and canyon roads where bicyclist traffic tends to be very heavy during summer months. I wanted to share some of my thoughts following the interactions and comments at these meetings:
What was the most valuable message a bicyclist might take away from the meetings? A motorist?
I think we all walked away with a greater appreciation for the other side's perspective. Motorists and homeowners saw bicyclists in plain clothes, out of our riding gear, and realized we're people too. We have jobs and most of us also drive cars. I think they saw us as people who are just trying to get from point a to b on our bikes.
The bicyclists realized that homeowners on these mountain roads and motorists want to do the right thing—most are not out trying to intentionally hurt a bicyclist. They also need to get from point a to b and sometimes bicyclists make that journey very difficult—riding four abreast and forcing a passing car into oncoming traffic—which causes great fear and concern for the motorists. I think we all left the meeting realizing we need to be more respectful while riding and while driving.
As a lawyer who specializes in bicycling issues, what do you think is the most common misperception bicyclists have about roadway etiquette or state laws?
I think some bicyclists feel that it is acceptable to blow through stop signs or stoplights at major intersections and that it is somehow motorists' responsibility to react to this behavior. Riding a bike does not entitle a person to disregard traffic laws. I was nearly T-boned the other day while riding my bike as two cyclists on a perpendicular street failed to stop (or even slow) for their stop sign. They careened right out into the road and nearly collided with me as I proceeded past them. The small percentage of cyclists who break the rules and disobey traffic laws give the rest of us law-abiding, conscientious, respectful riders a bad rap.
Likewise, what do you think is the most common misperception motorists have about roadway etiquette and state laws when sharing the road with bicyclists?
I think many motorists don't realize that the large percentage of bicyclists also own cars and therefore are also motorists. There are some people who commute only by bike. But most riders own bikes and cars—we aren't anti-car.
Were there any viable suggestions made at the meeting that might have a favorable impact on reducing accidents, and fatalities?
The meeting was very focused on mountain/canyon climbs where hundreds of people ride bikes, especially on weekends. Jefferson County has a great bike plan in place, we just need funding to implement it. When that happens, many of the major bicycling routes will see the addition of shoulders and/or bike lanes, and this will greatly help reduce the overwhelming numbers of bicyclists in certain concentrated areas.
Thanks to Megan for sharing her story from this meeting with us! Have you attended a similar meeting in your community? Do you think your community needs an event like this?blog comments powered by Disqus