Cars and cyclists: Why can’t we just get along?


I am writing this post to help keep our wonderful roads in Colorado safer for cyclists and motorists.  I would like to thank Bryan VanMeveren of VanMeveren Law Group for meeting with me to discuss this.  He recently completed a comprehensive book focusing on Colorado bike law this is now available for free download on his website:

A little background on myself, I have been riding a bike as long as I can remember and hope to stay in the saddle as long as possible.  The past couple months I have had 3 incidents on the road that have put my life at risk more than I am comfortable with. The number 3 being the main focus point of this article.

3 feet = 1 yard, 36 inches, metric 91.44 centimeters, .91 meters.  Motorists by law are required to give cyclists a minimum of 3 feet from the widest part of their vehicle, trailer, etc. when passing a cyclists on the road.   This can be a challenge on roads without a designated bike lane, but with a little planning, one can minimize the stress for both motorist and cyclists.

Motorists, 3 simple things you can do when passing a cyclist:

  1. Slow down or speed up based on road, traffic conditions
  2. Move left and pass with at least 3 feet of clearance
  3. Return to lane after safe pass

If you like more technical reading that supports the above:

42-4-1003. Overtaking a vehicle on the left

  • (1)  The following rules shall govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction, subject to the limitations, exceptions, and special rules stated in this section and sections 42-4-1004 to 42-4-1008:
    • (a)  The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left of the vehicle at a safe distance and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle.
    • (b)  The driver of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicyclist proceeding in the same direction shall allow the bicyclist at least a three-foot separation between the right side of the driver's vehicle, including all mirrors or other projections, and the left side of the bicyclist at all times.
    • (c)  Except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted, the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle on audible signal and shall not increase the speed of the driver's vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.
  • (2)  Any person who violates any provision of this section commits a class A traffic infraction.

Cyclists, 3 simple things you can do to help stay safer on the road:

  1. Be visible both at day and night.  So many great bike lights and reflective, bright gear is now available.  It would be so great to see all cyclists riding with a flashing light on the back of their bikes all of the time.
  2. Use hand signals when turning or coming to stop.  Drivers are not psychic and a hand signal can go a long way to helping the motorist better understand your intended direction of travel.
  3. Obey the law!  Seems simple, but blowing through stop signs at intersections with cars present is NOT SMART!  While you are allowed to ride two abreast on the road you shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic and, on a laned roadway, shall ride within a single lane. Use some common sense.  Two abreast on low traffic, back county road probably going to be okay.  Two abreast on high traffic or winding road, NOT A GOOD IDEA! and good idea to single up.

Cars and cyclists can continue to get along if both parties use some basic common sense and obey the rules of the road.  When I lived in Hawaii, we would say... "Ride with Aloha".