Cyclists are demanding motorists learn bike safety after a slew of accidents involving cars and riders. According to Bicycle Colorado, in 2022 745 people died on Colorado’s roads. This includes 121 bicyclists and pedestrians. It’s the highest number the Colorado Department of Transportation has seen since it started publishing data in 2002.
Brad Tucker, a Colorado native, experienced lawyer, and avid cyclist began riding during his youth in the 70s. Although, it was not until he was an adult that he started taking it more seriously. Initially, he rode for fun with his family and for exercise. However, he quickly started pursuing non-competitive endurance rides which pushed him to participate in more competitive local races through USA Cycling.
“Anytime basically, I can ride my bike to do something instead of driving a motor vehicle that’s what I choose,” Tucker said.
Tucker wanted to use his legal training to give back. He has since been Bicycle Colorado’s volunteer lawyer and board president. Tucker advocates for policies that promote cyclist safety because he is concerned that people who ride can be seriously injured or killed by inattentive drivers. Tucker often represents individuals who have been involved in car-on-bike collisions.
The call for change is getting more urgent. On July 29, 17-Year-Old cyclist Magnus White, a rising star in USA Cycling, had his life cut short in a tragic accident during a training session in Boulder, Colorado. His death shook up the cycling community and raised questions about why these accidents continue to happen between cyclists and motorists.
Recently, Dana Fells ended up at Denver Health with multiple fractures after she was struck by a driver on West 41st Avenue near Irving while she biked to work. This latest accident and many others emphasize the need to prioritize the safety of road cyclists.
Tucker mentioned that there are several steps to take to be as safe as possible as a cyclist on the road. First and foremost, he said that more people riding bikes helps to bring attention to cyclists.
“One of the favorite things for people riding bikes is more people riding bikes. When motorists are used to seeing people on bikes, they become more accustomed to looking for people on bikes, and they’re not surprised about that.”
Tucker is a big fan of helmets, although they are not required by Colorado law. According to the National Safety Council, “A bike helmet is a cyclist’s best line of defense, reducing risk of head injury by more than 50%. For severe head injuries, the protective benefit is even higher.
“I’m a big fan of helmets. Helmets don’t keep you from getting a broken leg or fractured collarbone and they don’t solve all problems, but they definitely minimize, mitigate head injuries and could potentially save your life,” Tucker said.
LED lights, reflectors, and bright clothing are great safety devices when riding on the road. Anything that can draw someone’s attention to where you are can lessen the chance that you will be involved in an accident.
“The more that you can choose to do to increase your visibility, you’re mitigating your risk, and that’s a good thing,” Tucker said.
Aishwarya Krishnamoorthy is the director of Marketing and Communications for Bicycle Colorado. She is also a frequent cyclist, using her bike as transportation to get to work one to three times per week. She mentioned having a couple of personal experiences with inattentive drivers that could have been prevented.
“People are not paying attention to see if somebody’s coming. So, there are many, many times I have been almost hit by a driver who’s turning right in front of my path, or turning left in front of my path, but directly in front of me.”
Krishnamoorthy said that it really should not be the cyclist’s duty to bring attention to themselves on the road. The responsibility, she says, should mostly be with motorists.
“I want to be clear that the responsibility lies primarily with drivers because you are the ones driving your car, which is a metal protective cage,” she said. “That can cause a lot of harm to people outside of the vehicle and so I honestly don’t think that much about visibility because I’m not out here trying to get myself killed.”
This is one of the core values at Bicycle Colorado and this summer they released a new driver-focused learning initiative, which they call SHIFT Driving. Krishnamoorthy said that SHIFT Driving teaches drivers to be more aware of cyclists and pedestrians.
“It essentially teaches drivers rules of the road and best practices to drive safely around people walking and biking,” she said. “Policies and infrastructure are constantly changing.”
Awareness and caution are crucial to sharing the road with cyclists. Both drivers and cyclists should review rules and regulations, especially as new policies are implemented. Krishnamoorthy concluded by saying that cyclists should always be able to get from one place to another safely.
“When we talk about infrastructure to help keep people riding bike safe, we’re really thinking about keeping those people safe and able to get where they need to go. And that’s why safety has to be a priority number one,” she said. “The important thing to come at it from is how is this making my community safer?”