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  1. #1
    Domestic Domestique UnsafeAlpine's Avatar
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    Don't Support Your Local Sheriff

    This letter, in my opinion, shows an incredible lack of insight into local cycling. Please read it, and then read my response and critique it. Thank you. The article, my response (which I have not sent yet.)

    Your interpretation of C.R.S. 42-4-1412(5) is fundamentally flawed. The law is vague to protect the cyclist’s ability to make judgment calls. Cars and bicycles do not act the same over similar road surfaces; what can be perfectly safe for a motor vehicle may not be safe for a bicycle. As an example, gravel tends to collect on paved shoulders over the winter and spring months. Although not generally hazardous to motorists, gravel can pose a serious threat to cyclists. The law states, ” Where a paved shoulder suitable for bicycle riding is present, persons operating bicycles shall ride on the paved shoulder,” and means that as long as the paved shoulder is clear of any bicycle related hazards, then the cyclists must use the shoulder; therefore, the cyclist must not use a hazardous shoulder, not, as your interpretation states, “If there is a paved shoulder, they should be riding on the shoulder, not in the traffic lane, regardless of whether or not they are impeding traffic.”

    Your statement, “Our reading of the statute doesn’t require that traffic actually be impeded, only that it the cyclists riding two abreast would impede the normal flow of traffic if vehicles had to swerve into the oncoming lane, especially when there is a double yellow line as is the case in many of the winding roads favored by the cyclists,” again, shows an amazing ignorance of the traffic laws. While you are correct in stating that it is illegal for cyclists to ride two abreast and impede traffic, you missed the fundamental mistake in your argument. It is illegal for vehicles to swerve across double yellow lines. If a cyclist is riding on a two lane road with double yellow lines, unless there is a bicycle-suitable shoulder, it is always illegal for a motorist to pass.

    Cyclists riding two abreast, while illegal and annoying to motorists, is the least of the trouble. Motorists need to be more aware of cyclist’s right to the road, and when a law enforcement official is just as ignorant, it makes cycling much more dangerous.

  2. #2
    cyclepath daredevil's Avatar
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    I have little respect for the sheriff's dept. where I live, especially when it comes to enforcing traffic laws and especially a deputy sheriff.
    I'm not sure what qualifies them to do anything to speak of with traffic. They should leave that to the highway patrol.

    btw, I like the last sentence!
    Last edited by daredevil; 05-23-08 at 12:08 PM.

  3. #3
    www.theheadbadge.com cudak888's Avatar
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    Bias, bias, bias, bias.

    What can be expected of a local fellow who campaigned and got himself into power as Sheriff? Revision of the county to work the way he perceives it to work - not the way the law intends.

    Just like any other person who does not understand/does not wish to understand cyclists - he knows little more of the law then the average fellow out there, for he is little different then the average fellow in the first place. His power is the only differentiation.

    -Kurt

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    www.theheadbadge.com cudak888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by daredevil View Post
    btw, I like the last sentence!
    It might have helped to add a comment in regards to the fact whether one likes or dislikes cyclists - or motorists for that matter - dislike or disdane is not an excuse for endangering a fellow human being.

    -Kurt

  5. #5
    genec genec's Avatar
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    That sheriff needs to get a dictionary and legal council so that he fully understands the words: "shall ride as close to the right-hand side as practicable" and "as far to the right as feasible."

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    Your first point is right, your second point only reinforces the Sheriff's argument. Yes, it's illegal to pass on a double yellow; therefore, if the only way a motorist can safely pass (i.e., not collide with the cyclists) cyclists riding two abreast is to cross the double yellow, then by definition, the cyclists are impeding traffic, and must ride single file. I don't think that's the point you wanted to make in your letter, is it?

    There are some solid arguments to be made against his interpretation of the law; your second point isn't one of them.

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    FWIW, it is my understanding that in most places you can pass slow-moving vehicles even with a double yellow line. Things like tractors and (I would assume) bicycles that were moving slow enough.

  8. #8
    Domestic Domestique UnsafeAlpine's Avatar
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    Changed it, hopefully for the better.

    As an avid member of the cycling community, I am discouraged by your attitude and interpretation of the laws regarding cycling. Your recent article, Cycling and Dodge City showed your ignorance of cycling and I expect more from my elected sheriff.

    Your interpretation of C.R.S. 42-4-1412(5) is fundamentally flawed. The law is vague to protect the cyclist’s ability to make judgment calls. Cars and bicycles do not act the same over similar road surfaces; what can be perfectly safe for a motor vehicle may not be safe for a bicycle. As an example, gravel tends to collect on paved shoulders over the winter and spring months. Although not generally hazardous to motorists, gravel can pose a serious threat to cyclists. The law states, ” Where a paved shoulder suitable for bicycle riding is present, persons operating bicycles shall ride on the paved shoulder,” and means that as long as the paved shoulder is clear of any bicycle related hazards, then the cyclists must use the shoulder; therefore, the cyclist must not use a hazardous shoulder, not, as your interpretation states, “If there is a paved shoulder, they should be riding on the shoulder, not in the traffic lane, regardless of whether or not they are impeding traffic.”

    Frequently, while riding around Larimer County, I have had motorists buzz me, whether attempting to hit me, or just scare me is unknown, but it happens nearly every time I’m riding in the county. I’ve also had cars come up on me and honk, yell, or throw things. This doesn’t just happen to me, but almost every rider I’ve talked to. This is not only an annoyance to cyclists, but also extremely dangerous. Your article does nothing to address this dangerous condition and it appears as though more of your concern is with annoyed motorists than dangerous driving that can result in a cyclist’s death. With a high profile cycling death recently occurring around Denver, I’m concerned that you would rather punish cyclist than serve and protect the area’s cyclists.

    Cyclists riding two abreast, while illegal and annoying to motorists, is the least of the trouble. Motorists need to be more aware of cyclist’s right to the road, and when a law enforcement official is just as ignorant of those laws, it makes cycling much more dangerous.

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    Improved yes, but one quibble: Riding two abreast isn't necessarily illegal. Sometimes, it will be, but other times, it will be legal-- and I think the Sheriff is mistaken about some of the circumstances in which he believes it's illegal.

    Best not to concede that it's illegal. If anything, it's illegal sometimes.

  10. #10
    Domestic Domestique UnsafeAlpine's Avatar
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    Thanks, you all are a great help. This is my first bit of advocacy, and I'm hoping I can do a lot more.

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    After a further bit of research, it appears even passing a slow-moving tractor is illegal in quite a few places. I can't find an exception in NY, anyway.

  12. #12
    Bent_Rider
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    Here in SF bay area, Sheriffs just fall asleep at the wheel and cross into the oncoming lane, mowing down cyclists. See Cupertino tragedy. Then they are whisked away without drug/alcohol testing.

  13. #13
    Senior Member st0ut's Avatar
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    I do not like how he partially quoted the law. I mean if you want to pick and choose what is valid to enforce that make a cycelist a target.


    edited.... Eamiled him told him he should quote all the statut not just what he wanted...
    have one of his officer ride the areas where they are having the most trouble... AND have an un uniformed officer ride with a car 2 miles ahead to arrest those that use thier vehicles as weapons.
    Last edited by st0ut; 05-23-08 at 05:36 PM.
    Cars make you weak.

  14. #14
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Just as long as your lack of support is forgotten when you're the one that needs the sheriff's help, then whatever you do is fine by me.

  15. #15
    mev
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    Thanks for writing this letter.

    There are a two additional comments to make.

    1. Here is a link to the CRS 42-4-1412: http://www.michie.com/colorado/lpext...templates&2.0#
    Note that the sheriff has by omission skipped over conditions whereby provisions for riding as far right as practicable
    do not apply such as preparing to make a left turn or avoiding debris. If he is going to try quoting the law, he shouldn't
    just pick and choose to make his point.

    2. If you haven't found it yet, one of the interesting resources is Bob Mionske in his books and articles.
    For example: http://www.velonews.com/article/9772 or http://www.velonews.com/article/9934

  16. #16
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    OK, maybe I'm misinterpreting, but what I'm getting is this:

    Cyclists can only ride 2-up when the road is wide enough for a car to safely pass without crossing yellow lines or steering into oncoming traffic; when there is a suitable paved (NOT gravel or dirt!) shoulder on the road, cyclists must use the shoulder, and ride single file. If the lane is wide enough for a car to safely pass cyclists single file but not 2-up, then the cyclists must ride single file. Not only that, but according to the sheriff, cyclists must ride this way whether cars are there or not!, because of "normal flow". Sorry, there, John Brown -- no traffic present, no flow exists.

    Ultimately, this quoted set of laws (btw, is there anything about 3' passing gap, or something similar? Not addressed, was it?) relegates the cyclist to a 2nd-class designation by having to bow to motorists. And this sheriff is using official sophistry to further weaken the tenuous hold cyclists have on their rights as granted by the state!

    Two final points:
    1.) I won't be riding there -- I'll wind up in jail for interfering with an officer; and

    2.) I have no resources to aid the advocacy that must take up this battle, else the battle lines would be drawn; but you have my meager backing for the battle.

    ILLEGITIMUS NON CARBORUNDUM (don't let the b*st*rds grind you down).

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by UnsafeAlpine View Post
    This letter, in my opinion, shows an incredible lack of insight into local cycling. Please read it, and then read my response and critique it. Thank you. The article, my response (which I have not sent yet.)
    He says something about "impeding the traffic flow" as if it's illegal. I'm not aware of the law he's referring to. TMK, slow moving vehicles are to keep to the right (as far as practicable) and take advantage of the shoulder when practicable. Only US Interstates, and select highways (usually sections of them) have other restrictions.

    Someone should probably notify the farmers that the highway system we built for them doesn't allow farm equipment anymore. Folks would like to drive to their acreages and they can't have these silly farmers slowing them down either!

    Apparently we're also required to take ID now. Funny, I thought we still had a right to travel. Bicycles aren't, yet, licensed. Who do these guys think they are? The SS? Am I unaware the law that allows authorities to imprison a person for not having an ID when they travel? Did I miss it when the US became a military installation?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ATAC49er View Post
    OK, maybe I'm misinterpreting, but what I'm getting is this:

    Cyclists can only ride 2-up when the road is wide enough for a car to safely pass without crossing yellow lines or steering into oncoming traffic; when there is a suitable paved (NOT gravel or dirt!) shoulder on the road, cyclists must use the shoulder, and ride single file.
    All good so far, except for the bolded text. The only time cyclists must ride single file, even on the shoulder, is if riding two abreast will impede traffic. At a minimum, the Sheriff implies otherwise, but he's wrong on that point.

    Quote Originally Posted by ATAC49er View Post
    If the lane is wide enough for a car to safely pass cyclists single file but not 2-up, then the cyclists must ride single file. Not only that, but according to the sheriff, cyclists must ride this way whether cars are there or not!, because of "normal flow". Sorry, there, John Brown -- no traffic present, no flow exists.
    Again, all good.

    Quote Originally Posted by ATAC49er View Post
    Ultimately, this quoted set of laws (btw, is there anything about 3' passing gap, or something similar? Not addressed, was it?) relegates the cyclist to a 2nd-class designation by having to bow to motorists. And this sheriff is using official sophistry to further weaken the tenuous hold cyclists have on their rights as granted by the state!
    Unfortunately, that second class status is enshrined in Colorado law...and you're right, the Sheriff is attempting to interpret the law so that cyclists have even fewer rights than they actually possess.

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    Quote Originally Posted by crhilton View Post
    He says something about "impeding the traffic flow" as if it's illegal. I'm not aware of the law he's referring to.
    The law states that cyclists may ride two abreast if it will not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.

    Quote Originally Posted by crhilton View Post
    Apparently we're also required to take ID now. Funny, I thought we still had a right to travel. Bicycles aren't, yet, licensed. Who do these guys think they are? The SS? Am I unaware the law that allows authorities to imprison a person for not having an ID when they travel? Did I miss it when the US became a military installation?
    You are not required to carry a license when riding, or to carry identification in order to travel.

    However, in Colorado, if you violate a traffic law and are stopped for purposes of being issued a citation, you must produce "satisfactory evidence of identification," or the law requires the arresting officer to place you under arrest.

  20. #20
    sc0ch
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    The Sheriff addresses complaints about irresponsible drivers in the close of his article, "To the motoring public, this does not mean its open season on cyclists." I would remove your last paragraph and reword, as below:

    As an avid member of the cycling community, I am discouraged by your attitude and interpretation of the laws regarding cycling. Your recent article, "Cycling and Dodge City," shows less sophistication than I expect from my elected sheriff.

    Namely, your interpretation of C.R.S. 42-4-1412(5) is fundamentally flawed. The law is intentionally vague to protect the cyclist’s ability to make judgment calls. The law states, ” Where a paved shoulder SUITABLE for bicycle riding is present, persons operating bicycles shall ride on the paved shoulder,” meaning that as long as the paved shoulder is clear of any bicycle related hazards, then cyclists must use the shoulder. However, often gravel or glass makes a shoulder impassable. If the shoulder is not “suitable,” that is, hazardous, then a cyclist needn’t ride the shoulder. This is contrary to your statement, “If there is a paved shoulder, [cyclists] should be riding on the shoulder, not in the traffic lane, regardless of whether or not they are impeding traffic.”

    Frequently, while riding around Larimer County, I have had motorists buzz me. Whether they’re attempting to hit me, or just trying to scare me is unknown. However, it happens nearly every time I’m riding in the county. I’ve also had motorists come up on me and honk, yell, or throw things. This doesn’t just happen to me, but almost every rider I’ve talked to. This is not only an annoyance to cyclists, but also extremely dangerous. Your article does little to address this dangerous condition. Indeed, cyclists riding two abreast, while illegal and annoying to motorists, is the least of the trouble. Motorists need to be more aware of cyclists' rights to the road, and when law enforcement officials misinterpret those laws, it makes cycling much more dangerous.
    Last edited by sc0ch; 05-24-08 at 01:02 AM.

  21. #21
    sc0ch
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    Also, a letter to the editor of the newspaper for publication, not a letter to the sheriff, might be more effective.

  22. #22
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BarracksSi View Post
    Just as long as your lack of support is forgotten when you're the one that needs the sheriff's help, then whatever you do is fine by me.
    Why support the re-election of a sheriff that cannot even properly read the law and who makes up his own words for what the law means?

    Cyclist do need the sheriffs help - they need him to understand the law and not to try and force cyclist to ride on dangerous shoulders or in a risky manner.

    This sheriff has grossly failed in his elected position. Vote him out.

  23. #23
    . bbattle's Avatar
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    Perhaps the OP could post the pertinent statutes. Laws differ from state to state, county to county, etc.

  24. #24
    Domestic Domestique UnsafeAlpine's Avatar
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    Here's a link to all pertinent Colorado bicycle laws. http://colobikelaw.com/law.php

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    It's not illegal to ride 2 abreast just because a motor vehicle has to wait some amount of time to pass you.
    You should check out this article for a legal perspective on this isssue: http://www.velonews.com/article/75977

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