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Can bicyclists and motorists coexist?

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Meeting seeks ways to reduce conflicts and make roads safer

By Sandy Barnes

 Bicyclists and drivers discussed ways to coexist and travel safely on county roads during a meeting at the Lookout Mountain Nature Center on Aug. 22.

“As the cycling population grows, we’re seeing more injuries,” said Jeffco Commissioner Don Rosier, who led the meeting.

While traffic and pedestrian fatalities have decreased by 34 percent in the past 10 years, the number of bicyclist fatalities has remained the same, said Rosier. 

According to the most recent data from the Denver Regional Council of Governments, four bicyclists were killed in 2010 while riding on regional roads.

The increase in all types of traffic, including cyclists, also has led to more incidents, Rosier and others noted.

“What we’re talking about here is that there is only so much road, and more and more people wanting to use it,” said Paul Murphy of Team Evergreen. Accidents are happening because of increased use and congestion, he added.

Other bicyclists said that proper road maintenance and creating bike lanes would help alleviate problems. Potholes, broken pavement and sand on roads create hazards for those on bikes, they said.

“I fully support shoulders on Lookout Mountain Road,” said Jennifer Corbett, who lives in the area, which is a popular cycling route.

Regarding complaints about people on bikes running stop signs, Corbett suggested that signs be placed at key intersections reading, “Cyclists must stop too.”

Lookout Mountain resident Ginger Wharton said she’s afraid she will accidentally hit a bicyclist who is not obeying traffic rules. 

“We don’t want to hurt anyone,” Wharton said. “I would feel horrible.”

Lt. James Lucas of the Jeffco Sheriff’s Office said that deputies go on extra patrols in areas where there are reports of erratic driving and cycling. 

“We know the problem areas. We work these areas,” Lucas said. “We’re doing our best to mitigate these things.”

Lucas also said many cyclists traveling through the Lookout Mountain area are not local riders. 

Jeffco planners have developed a bicycle plan designed to improve conditions, which includes the creation of bike lanes. But funding is not available, Rosier said. 

“When those dollars do come available, we have a plan,” he said. 

“If we’re all really serious about this, we should all talk to public officials about funding,” said cyclist Dave Gardner.

Golden resident Perry Helt suggested that bicyclists be required to have licenses to operate, a measure that would help raise money for street improvements, he said.

“It adds insult to injury that you use streets for free,” he said. 

A license plate on a bike would also eliminate anonymity, Helt added.

“I’m really encouraged about the collaborative nature of this meeting,” said biker Chris Smith. “There’s a lot of traffic here because a lot of people want to live here.

“There’s a lot of aging infrastructure, and everyone wants to use it at the same time,” he added. “We need to figure out ways to accelerate that plan.”

Contact reporter Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com or call 303-350-1042.