Interesting Opinion in today's Daily Camera.
More on the Senate Bill (http://bicyclecolo.org/page.cfm?PageID=988 )
Ellis: Bicycle safety -- just too inconvenient?
By Mike Ellis
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden recently testified against Colorado Senate Bill 148, the Bicycle Safety Bill. Does the law officer really hate bikes so much that he would argue against their safety?
Based on his previous comments and actions, I have to say he does, especially if their riders come from Boulder.
Previously, the sheriff has claimed the right to jail cyclists and take their bikes for the crime of not carrying ID. He has "joked" that his deputies get bonus points and prizes for ticketing Boulder cyclists. And his deputies reportedly stopped Boulder cyclists and told them they aren't welcome to ride in their jurisdiction.
What's got the sheriff's chaps in a bunch now? He says the proposed bill, which would require drivers to give cyclists three feet of room when passing, would be hard to enforce. He doesn't think his deputies can judge that distance on the fly.
A quick read of the Colorado Motor Vehicle Code revealed many examples of laws based on specific distances. So, if the requirement to judge distance is the real reason he opposes SB-148, the sheriff needs to hire some better deputies.
Highlights of the Bicycle Safety Bill:
Drivers must give cyclists three feet of room when passing, but can cross the solid yellow line to do so if it is safe.
Cyclists' requirement to stay to the right is clarified: They are not expected to ride through hazards, they can move left to pass a slower vehicle or prepare to turn, and they can ride on the left-hand portion of a right-turn lane if going straight or on the left side of a one-way road.
The two-abreast rule is clarified: Cyclists can ride more than two abreast on shoulders and can pass other cyclists including those riding two abreast. They can ride two abreast if there is no conflicting traffic or if the road is too narrow for a car to pass a bike.
Harassing or taunting a cyclist, throwing objects at them or intentionally buzzing them becomes illegal.
I'm guessing that the provision that really upset Alderden is the clarification of the two-abreast rule, which must feel like a slap in the face after his vocal disagreements with the rational and intended interpretation of the current law.
Another group opposing the bill is the Colorado Motor Carriers Association, which represents the trucking industry. They want to preserve the right to buzz cyclists, so they don't have to slow down and wait until it is safe to pass on narrow roads.
The CMCA has a history of opposing cyclists' rights. Last year, they convinced the legislature to kill a bill that would have levied a non-trivial fine and potential criminal charges (as opposed to today's traffic citation and minimal fine) for a driver's right-of-way violations resulting in a cyclist's (or other's) serious injury or death. I guess the truckers worried they might get criminal violation for running down cyclists, and could lose their licenses. But is that a bad thing?
As I write this, the Colorado Senate has passed the Bicycle Safety Bill, and the House Transportation Committee will be taking it up next.
Mike Ellis rides safely through Boulder and Larimer Counties. More of his thoughts on cycling can be found at insomnialog.blogspot.com, and he welcomes e-mail at EllisCamera@gmail.com.
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Thread: Sheriff Alderden and Bill 148