Motorists and cyclists still at odds in Roaring Fork Valley
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
WOODY CREEK, Colorado ” Maybe it was a case of simple misunderstanding, but when two locals recently got in an argument over sharing a lane in Woody Creek, it showed that motorists and cyclists are still at odds over the rules of the road.
The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a spat between motorist Michael Cleverly and cyclist Michael Maple. About two weeks ago, the two apparently had a heated exchange on the side of Woody Creek Road.
A sheriff’s official said each man could face charges ” Maple, a disorderly conduct misdemeanor charge for allegedly making an obscene gesture, and Cleverly, a traffic infraction for making an unsafe pass.
Conflicts between motorists and cyclists are fairly common, according to Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office officials, who said that as temperatures rise, drivers speed up and cyclists hit the road. The sheriff’s office receives about one call every month about drivers and cyclists in conflict, said patrol director Ann Stephenson.
“We gotta learn to share the road and play nice in the sandbox,” she said.
Sometimes the disputes arise because motorists and cycles aren’t well acquainted with the rules of the road, Stephenson noted. She cited a recent change in Colorado state law, which allows cyclists to ride two-abreast. State law reads that cyclists “shall” ride in a single file but “may” ride double if they do not impede the flow of traffic.
“Bicyclists are required when cars pull up behind to get into single file,” Stephenson said.
Brad Gibson, a detective with the sheriff’s department, said he regularly fields complaints of incidents on rural roads along Maroon Creek, Castle Creek or Woody Creek.
Gibson said it’s really up to both bicyclists and drivers to have mutual respect for one another.
Cyclists should listen for approaching cars and not block traffic, Gibson said, and drivers should slow down and give “due consideration” to cyclists.
“They have to coexist,” Gibson said.
Meanwhile, Cleverly, a Woody Creek author and artist, said he was driving his red Jeep Cherokee home along Woody Creek Road on a Sunday afternoon and became frustrated when he couldn’t pass two cyclists pedaling side by side.
Cleverly followed the pair, waiting for a chance to pass, and then took his opportunity, hitting the gas to pass and scooting to the right quickly before reaching a blind curve, he said.
Cleverly claims that he looked in his rearview mirror to see one of the cyclists, Maple, flashing an obscene gesture.
Cleverly pulled over immediately to, as he said, “edify them in the finer points of etiquette and physics.”
Maple, an Aspen businessman who estimates he cycles some 3,000 miles each year on area roads, said Cleverly was a threat.
“He came within six inches of my shoulder at 30 miles per hour, and I didn’t appreciate it,” Maple said. “Whoever the driver of this vehicle was, was dangerous and aggressive.”
Maple said the incident was on a deserted, quiet stretch of road. He later reported Cleverly to the sheriff’s office.
Cleverly said he always thought that scooting around cyclists was the courteous thing to do, but quipped that in the future he might just lay on the horn instead.
Maple alleges that he was simply riding along a quiet, rural road on a Sunday afternoon. He said he heard Cleverly’s vehicle approaching, but said he and his companion were only taking up maybe 6 feet of a 24-foot-wide road.
“There was absolutely no reason for it,” Maple said. “I think there are some drivers out there who are aggressive toward cyclists.”
Maple said he avoids roads such as Highway 133, as well as Frying Pan Road, where he said drivers can be dangerous.
“I don’t know what gets into people,” Maple said.
Cleverly, however, said he has had his fill of cyclists hogging the road, and something had to give.
“The guy in the middle of the road was making no effort to budge over and get in single-file line,” he said.
He added: “There are always people riding two or three people abreast. Woody Creekers absolutely hate them.”
For information about bicycle safety, read the bicycling manual on the Colorado Department of Transportation website: http://www.dot.state.co.us
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