Beware this biker: He means to lay down the law |

Beware this biker: He means to lay down the law

Next time you glance in your rearview mirror and spot a motorcyclist, glance again.

The biker behind you could very well be Colorado State Patrol trooper Eric Westphal, rather than a Harley-riding yuppie or a Gold Wing cruiser.

Westphal started the motorcycle patrol in early May. The state patrol’s Glenwood Springs district has been without one for several months.

“A motorcycle is truly an asset for what we do,” said Colorado State Patrol Capt. Scott Friend.

Friend said his district covers Garfield, Eagle and Pitkin counties, and there’s only one motorcycle trooper for the whole area. Don’t look for the trooper on most of Interstate 70 west of Glenwood Springs.

“I don’t like to run them at high speeds on I-70,” Friend said.

Motorists are more likely to see the motorcycle trooper in Glenwood Canyon, or on Highway 82.

On I-70 in Glenwood Canyon, with its narrow shoulders, it’s safer and more practical for a motorcycle to set up next to the highway to observe traffic than for a patrol car.

“It’s hard to work the canyon,” Friend said.

Friend said the motorcycle trooper looks for everything other troopers look for in Glenwood Canyon, including speeding and improper lane changing. Semi-trailer trucks also warrant a good look. “They are supposed to stay in the right lane,” Friend said.

Highway 82, especially where it’s detoured to Lower River Road at Snowmass, is another hot spot for the motorcycle trooper. The two-lane Lower River Road is twisty, and motorists aren’t supposed to pass on it.

“We get a lot of complaints” about passing on the detour, Friend said.

Friend said troopers like Westphal typically have three or four years experience before becoming motorcycle troopers.

“He just got back from a three-week school. It’s a pretty tough course,” Friend said.

Although Westphal can negotiate traffic easier than he could in a car, and can set up on narrow shoulders, there is at least one situation where a motorcycle doesn’t work out as well.

“If he arrests someone, another car has to come,” Friend said.

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