Courtesy, sense needed for riding on new ped bridge | PostIndependent.com

Courtesy, sense needed for riding on new ped bridge

Glenwood Springs Bicycle Advocates

The new downtown bicycle-pedestrian bridge has quickly become an essential connection for practical local bicycle riding. Keeping the right to ride there depends on riders actively engaging in courtesy and sensible riding, especially when pedestrians are also on the bridge.

The bridge is fully open to bicycle riding, as it should be, and as it has been since it was completed in April.

Riding on the bridge accommodates practical bicycle trips between the north and south sides of the Colorado River, between downtown and the Hot Springs Pool, between neighborhoods and businesses, between lodgings and attractions.

All that access is very useful during this unique time without a downtown car bridge. The importance of riding on the bridge will only increase, however, after the replacement project is finished — when Seventh Street reopens, when the full loop of bicycle routes centers more completely on the bridge.

Cyclists are not required to dismount in order to cross the bridge (other than to negotiate the south-end stairs or to ride the elevator).

Cyclists are required by state law to yield to pedestrians, whatever the walkers’ pathway, pace or abrupt moves. Pedestrians rule. Respecting that fact has multiple benefits for all users.

The downtown bridge is unique among local bicycle-riding facilities. Techniques suitable for sharing the River Trail, for example, or other bicycle-ped bridges do not really fit downtown.

At those other locations, pedestrians are expected to stay to the right, cyclists are expected to signal and pass carefully on the left, with efficient thoroughfares maintained for all travelers.

Not so on the downtown bridge, which is a destination in itself, a place of exploration. Pedestrians meander, stop abruptly to take in the big views of river and mountains, walk abreast in large groups, dawdle in the refreshing openness of the place — as they should.

Cyclists must correspondingly adjust their own speed, route, technique — and expectations — to allow everyone the enjoyment that the bridge design provides, still able to complete an efficient, pleasurable ride.

Yes, the bridge is a place to ride, but not a place to flash through. Expecting walkers to stay to one side, or even to maintain a straight path, does not apply.

Calling out to pedestrians to move over is out of place; impatiently nudging from behind is gauche. Riding down the stairway is just dumb.

In some instances, when the bridge is particularly busy, the smart rider just gets off and walks for part of the distance.

All those extra efforts are better than prompting a change in rules and being required to dismount for every trip all the way across the bridge.

Good riding behavior on the bridge has multiple benefits:

• Safety and enjoyment is ensured.

• All users feel comfortable and welcome.

• Courtesy is affirmed as a community value.

• The bridge will remain open to bicycle riding.

Cyclists who use their heads, their sense of civility and their brakes are the leaders who help set a positive and efficient tone on this important and unique public space.

Glenwood Springs Bicycle Advocates provide tips and support for cyclists and drivers to encourage bicycling for local trips during the Grand Avenue bridge closure, and for renewed riding habits into the future. For more information, call 970-618-8264 or write glenwoodbikes@rof.net.