The three hottest words of summer: share the road

Andrea W. Doray, Alchemy
Posted 8/23/12

When it’s hot — and it’s been hot — vehicle air conditioners work overtime, and drivers’ tempers rise as the temperature climbs. Motorists …

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The three hottest words of summer: share the road


When it’s hot — and it’s been hot — vehicle air conditioners work overtime, and drivers’ tempers rise as the temperature climbs.

Motorists sitting interminably through several stoplights simmer when cyclists glide past them, right up to the light.

Bicyclists, having obtained the green light, are alarmed and annoyed when cars turn abruptly in front of them without signaling.

Is it any wonder, then, that the three hottest words of summer are Share the Road?

As a cyclist — and a driver — I have definite opinions about sharing the road. More than once I’ve been nudged off the road by cars turning into me while I’m riding properly on the right.

I’ve also been screamed at by motorists to “use the sidewalk!” and have been challenged by obnoxious — or oblivious — drivers for the rough edges of pavement that grab for my skinny tires.

On the other hand, while driving, I’ve encountered cyclists slowing traffic by riding three or four abreast; cyclists who blow right through stop signs and stop lights.

I’ve been startled by cyclists suddenly crossing in front of me without signaling for turns.

And I really wish they wouldn’t.

Such behavior feeds into the sentiments of those who believe bicycles don’t belong on the road.

And besides, such behavior is against the law.

According to Colorado Statute 42-4-1412, “every person riding a bicycle shall have all of the rights and duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle under this article ... Said riders shall comply with the rules set forth in this section and ... when using streets and highways within incorporated cities and towns, shall be subject to local ordinances regulating the operation of bicycles ...”

Of course, all such statutes have multiple provisions, so check out for plain language information.

However, the short version is that cyclists must:

• follow traffic laws, including those requiring motorists to stop, yield and signal.

• obey the speed limit (really!).

• ride no more than two abreast on the roadways, and obey signs requiring cyclists to ride single file.

Motorists, for their part, need to know that cyclists must not be expected:

• to ride over or through hazards at the edge of a roadway.

• to ride without a reasonable safety margin on the right-hand side of the roadway.

• to ride in the far right lane when making a left turn, overtaking a slower vehicle or when taking reasonable precautions.

As cyclists, we need to make a conscious effort to observe the etiquette and rules for public roads.

It only takes a few seconds to be a law-abiding rider.

As motorists, we need to recognize that bullying cyclists from a vehicle is not only silly, it’s dangerous.

The cyclist will lose if you collide.

You don’t want that on your fender, do you?

With the Pro Cycling Challenge once again bringing national and international attention to our state, we’re likely to find even more bicycles on the road.

Fortunately, for both cyclists and drivers, we’re already seeing efforts to make sharing the road easier for everyone. New roadways are allocating space for bike and pedestrian lanes, and public transportation welcomes cyclists and their bikes

Communities like Arvada are gaining attention across the country for installing bike lanes with markers called “sharrows” (share and arrow) in the center of a full lane for cyclists. The purposes of these new lanes and markings are to:

• help reduce chances of a bicyclist hitting the opening door of a parked vehicle;

• alert motorists to lanes bicyclists are likely to occupy;

• encourage safe passing of bicyclists; and

• reduce the incidence of wrong-way bicycling.

Perhaps you’ve read on these pages about my penchant for courtesy, awareness and community mindedness.

Sharing the road is just one more piece of living together with civility.

Andrea W. Doray is a writing/rider, riding/writer from Arvada who recently saw a police officer on a bike stop two cyclists for failing to obey traffic signals. Message received. Contact her at


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