If Grand Junction wants to be considered an outdoor recreation hub, it needs to create an environment where every cyclist feels safe when riding a bike.
Bikes and motor vehicles have a testy history of sharing the road in this state. It's not just a Western Slope phenomenon. Cyclists have been shot with pellet guns, "coal rolled" by diesel engines or nudged to the crumbling edges of shoulderless roads by drivers who seem to relish ruining a ride.
The law is clear that bikes have a right to be in a roadway.
"On streets and roads that do not have bike lanes, bicyclists have the right to utilize the travel lane just like motor vehicles, per the Model Traffic Code for Colorado," the city of Grand Junction said in a press release publicizing new "sharrow" markings intended to remind drivers that bikes have a legal right to use the road.
It's part of the city's strategic plan, which calls for enhancing the "bicycle friendliness" of the community.
We say bravo. The city is actually late to the game, installing shared lane symbols for the first time here when they're commonplace elsewhere.
These sharrow markings don't change the rules of the road. They just make clear to drivers that bikes may be present. So, motorists, keep an eye out for them — both the signs and the cyclists. Sharrow markings are typically found on narrow streets that can't accommodate a bike lane, where vehicle counts are low, the speed limit is 35 mph or less or bicycle traffic is high. Sharrows are also commonly used at the entrances to roundabouts, because bike lanes cannot be marked within the roundabout and bicyclists are expected to use the travel lane.
As the Sentinel's Amy Hamilton reported in Monday's digital edition, some areas to receive sharrows will include the entrance to the roundabout at Seventh and Main streets, West Main Street beginning at the Riverfront Trail connection and onto the Main Street Pedestrian Bridge and a few areas on the Tour of the Moon byway.
Cyclists in the Grand Valley run the full gamut. From Spandex-clad athletes in training to commuters in slacks to vagabonds on two wheels, they all have a right to feel safe.
They can ensure that safety by courteously obeying the rules of the road and wearing the appropriate bright or reflective apparel to visually announce their presence.