OUT: Haggerty’s Hikes February 28, 2009

New law to create biker ease

A BIKER RIDES along Monument Road near the east entrance to Colorado National Monument. A new state law requires a 3-foot buffer between cyclists and motor vehicles.

Even though Nick is recovering from knee surgery, he still had enough in him to ride from town to Cold Shivers Point on Colorado National Monument the other day. It was so warm this week that I, too, hopped on the bicycle. I did not ride up to Cold Shivers. Rather, I chose to ride beneath the face of the national monument along South Camp, South Broadway and Broadway. I pedaled from the east entrance of the national monument to the west entrance.

I enjoyed a great ride on a great day in February. Can you believe 60+ degree temperatures? This is weird weather.

To follow my single-track, follow the detour on Monument Road and head toward the
Tabeguache Trailhead, the same place we went last week for a hike at the Lunch Loop. It’s probably easiest to park here, even though I started my bicycle trip meter at the actual east entrance of the monument, 1.8 miles further up the road.

From Monument Road, head to South Camp. It’s 1.2 miles from the Tabeguache Trailhead, and .6 miles from the monument entrance. Take a left if you started at the monument gate, or right if you started at Tabeguache. Follow South Camp for 2.7 miles and turn left on South Broadway. Follow the narrow, twisting, winding South Broadway past Tiara Rado Golf Course. About a half-mile past the golf course, South Broadway turns left, even though the road continues forward. You should turn left, too.

Stay on South Broadway for another eight-tenths of a mile and the road will veer to the right, parallel to the old buffalo fence along the national monument boundary. Continue for another 1.2 miles and you’ll pass F ½ Road. In another one-tenth of a mile, you’ll find Broadway (Colorado Highway 340). Here, turn left on Broadway and pedal another three miles or so to the west entrance of the national monument. You’ll pedal past Deer Park, past Monument Canyon turnoff, and down Question Mark Hill. Once you get to that west gate, get off the bike and take a break. Then, turn around and pedal back.

One thing you should know right now — you can really fly down Question Mark Hill, and you’ll have plenty of time to ponder why this stretch is known as Question Mark Hill on the long, steady climb back up. It’s not as aerobically challenging as a climb to Cold Shivers Point, of course, but a healthy climb nonetheless. Especially for the first ride of the season.

With this spectacular — albeit weird — weather, cyclists and motorists are all reminded there are more two-wheelers on the road these days, so be careful.

In an attempt to provide a wider berth for bicyclists, the Colorado Senate passed Senate Bill 148 by a 26-7 vote just before Valentine’s Day. According to Denver Post reporter Jessica Fender, “That’s a hefty margin which hopefully portends good things when the House version of the same bill is tackled by the Colorado House.”

The bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Greg Brophy, R- Wray, and Rep. Mike Merrifield,
D-Manitou Springs, both avid cyclists. The new rules governing road relations between cyclists and motorists includes requiring a three-foot cushion when a car passes a cyclist.

“When you’re riding a bicycle down the road, you are completely exposed,” Brophy said.

“Three feet seems really close.”

Parts of the bill were opposed by trucking representatives, who worried that it may not always be safe for them to pass at that distance.

The Bike Bill also would allow bikes to be more places on the road. Cyclists would no longer have to ride as far to the right as possible, but only as far right as they feel is safe. They would be able to use right-turn lanes as bike lanes if they make sure to signal their intentions to motorists. Also, cyclists could legally ride in left-hand lanes on one-way streets to avoid bus traffic in the right lane.

And, according to the proposed bill, if cyclists can keep up with traffic, cyclists would be allowed to ride in inner lanes.

If you ride Monument Road these days, you’ll find plenty of room on both sides of the road to peddle. That’s because Monument Road was widened, re-paved and re-striped last year and there are now bicycle lanes on both sides of the road.

That’s not true for South Camp, South Broadway or Broadway. You have to be a bit more careful on those roads.

No matter what, cyclists and motorists must acknowledge each others presence on the road, and proceed cautiously and courteously. As the sign says, “Share the road,” and enjoy this weird, beautiful weather.


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