Cyclists banned from some Boulder County roads: Reasonable or not?

It’s reasonable to ask people to avoid unnecessary trips up or down canyon roads that are being rebuilt after their destruction by devastating floods.

If traffic of any sort is allowed on the roads, however, is an outright ban on bicycle traffic reasonable?

The question is prompted by this story about Boulder County roads that are now closed to cyclists but open, apparently, to anyone else.

It is a reasonable distinction to make:

  • If you do not consider the bicycle a legitimate mode of transportation.
  • If you assume that everyone who needs to get somewhere has or has access to a motor vehicle or public transportation.
  • If you assume that cyclists are on the roads only for recreation.
  • If it is true that the most serious hazard for cyclists is the lack of a guardrail or shoulder (as if cyclists must always ride next to the road rather than upon it).

In my experience, the most serious hazard to a cyclist is an inattentive or hostile motorist. Sometimes our own mistakes cause us harm, of course.

The article quotes Boulder County’s transportation director, George Gerstle, as saying shoulders “typically separate vehicular and bicycle travel or allow pull-offs by cyclists and safe passing by vehicles.”

Our transportation director seems to believe that safe passing by vehicles is dependent on not having cyclists in their way, while in fact safe passing is more dependent on cyclists and motorists alike being responsible and obeying traffic laws. Around here, as I understand it, drivers are required by law to pass cyclists no closer than three feet, and cyclists can travel the public roadways quite legally.

We don’t need our county transportation director reinforcing the beliefs of all too many motorists that cyclists do not belong on roads and should just stay the hell out of the way.

The article says Bicycle Longmont president Ryan Kragerud thinks closing those roads to cycling is reasonable. Ryan is wrong about that.

Asking motorists and cyclists to avoid certain roads is reasonable. Responsible, courteous citizens of all persuasions will comply, whether they move about the county on two wheels, four wheels or more.

If roads are not safe for cyclists, they are not safe for motorists.

We are all traffic. Either allow traffic on the road or don’t.

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