Nearly 66 million athletes pedaled their way to fitness in 2017. The numbers are increasing, which is why it’s so important to know the rules of the road. Yes, road bikes have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists in Colorado.
Road bike riding provides a great workout—and can cause great consternation between cyclists and drivers. For some reason, the sight of a spandex clad road biker gets some motorists riled up. A Colorado law allows for bikers to ride two abreast when it doesn’t impede traffic. However, one person’s view of impeding traffic is often different than another person’s. It only makes sense on narrow roads, those with little or no shoulder or twisting canyon-type roads, to ride single file.
Motorists often wonder why a cyclist would choose to ride on a road instead a nearby bike path. The answer is that often a road feels more safe: the bike path meanders as do the walkers, joggers, skaters, birdwatchers and whomever else shares the trail. Even an intermediate road biker maintains a speed of 13 to 17 miles per hour—that’s pretty fast to wind between walkers or strollers.
Other rules to keep in mind when on your two-wheeled steed: ride with traffic, stay in the shoulder area unless you’re about to make a left turn or passing a slower moving rider.
Signal your intentions to turn. And although there’s been chatter about instituting the “Idaho stop,” which is when a cyclist can cruise through a stop sign as if it’s a yield if there are no other vehicles present, it’s still not the law in Colorado.
That means stop at red lights, stop signs and follow all other rules of the road. Some cyclists do wear headphones, but it’s best to keep an ear open to approaching traffic. Remember those hazy days of summer, pedaling furiously with friends, flying down hills and cranking slowly back up them? Road biking bring about that same joy-inducing giddiness—as long as riders remember to follow a few rules and pay attention to the world around them. Best bets for road rides in the Vail Valley? Get your heart pumping and pedal up Vail Pass. Or, cruise along the bike path that runs all the way from East Vail to Edwards.
Biking up Beaver Creek is a short, fast way to get a work out; or take the scenic route up Bachelor Gulch.