Driving at 60 miles per hour, I’m barely keeping up with the car in front of me. As it’s the start of Memorial Day weekend, there’s a lot of traffic on Foothills Parkway, otherwise known as Highway 36. It’s no surprise, as this is the main corridor leading from Boulder to Estes Park, and the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.
Suddenly I find myself in a precarious spot. Three bicyclists are riding three abreast, with one actually over the line in my line of traffic. I need to cross the double yellow in the center to provide enough room to safely get around this group, but there’s a steady stream of traffic coming the other way. I can’t risk it without impeding traffic. I have no choice but to slow way down behind the cyclist, until there’s a break the other way. I’m annoyed, as there is an ample shoulder if only the group was riding single file, but instead they’ve decided to ride so there making it very difficult for motorists.
I sigh, shaking my head as it’s really no big surprise. Cyclists in Boulder County seem to own the roads, any road that they ride on, ignoring road signs, blatantly going through stop signs and even stoplights, all with seemingly no consequence. The word “entitled” comes up a lot when discussing cyclists, because that’s the attitude that seems to permeate groups of cyclists who take over the roadways, everyone else be damned.
The weird thing is I own a bike myself, and have been bicycling since I was a little kid. I like biking. Do I plan my days around biking? No, I choose to spread my pursuit of exercise and outdoor recreation among several activities. Still, it’s fun to pull out the bike and go for a scenic ride.
Yet, despite this, living the last decade near Boulder, Colorado, I find myself despising cyclists at times. They ride on roads that are clearly not designed for cyclists with sharp curves and little to no shoulders. They ignore the yellow signs that clearly state, Single File, for bicyclists. On steep, winding Flagstaff Road, where the speed limits dictate a vehicle travel at 15 mph around the curves, I’ve had bicyclists zooming down at over twice that speed. I’ve even had them pass me in my car on a double yellow curve. Any wonder, why there is such conflict between cyclists and motorists?
The latest proposed project that has raised the ire of residents is a proposed expansion on Four Mile Canyon, to put in an uphill bike lane. Mnay residents of the scenic, narrow canyon are staunchly opposed as they foresee blasting and changing the scenic character of this quiet peaceful canyon that so many built in years ago. They also see an increase in bicycle traffic, not necessarily something they want encouraged. The opposition has reached a point of forming a coalition to express their concerns, savefourmilecanyon.org.
I guess my greatest wish is that all of us who love to recreate in Boulder County could learn to get along, to follow the rules of the road, and to show a little compassion for all users of the roads and trails in this beautiful place we call home. Time will tell…