We learned of a cycling case currently pending in Denver County Traffic Court, and it has us all scratching our heads here at 303cycling…
A few months ago, a cyclist was hit and injured near the intersection of East Tufts and DTC Blvd in Denver.
The cyclist was riding to work and was headed southbound on S. DTC Blvd. This intersection has 4 lanes: a dedicated right turn lane, a turn/through lane, and two dedicated through lanes. The cyclist intended to proceed straight through the intersection towards his workplace.
Pursuant to C.R.S. 42-4-1412(5)(a)(III), a cyclist is to ride in the right-hand lane, except “upon approaching an intersection where right turns are permitted and there is a dedicated right-turn lane, a bicyclist may ride on the left-hand portion of the dedicated right-turn lane even if the bicyclist does not intend to turn right.”
According to the police report, the cyclist in this case was riding exactly where the statute instructs –he was on the far left side of the dedicated right-turn lane.
A car approached the cyclist from behind at a stated speed of 30mph, overtook him and squeezed into the same lane with him (violating the 3-foot law) and then proceeded to turn right (attempting to go westbound on E. Tufts). The result was that she sideswiped the cyclist, knocking him over, and he sustained a broken clavicle and other injuries, as well as damage to his bicycle.
Interestingly, Denver Police issued a citation to the cyclist –for careless driving. Notably, Denver Police did not cite the motorist, despite her obvious violation of the Colorado 3-foot law (C.R.S. 42-4-1003). Arguably, she also violated Denver Municipal Code sections 54-200 (Multiple Turns), 54-208 (Turning Movements), and 54-228 (Denver’s 3-foot rule when passing cyclist).
The cyclist’s position also complied with Bike Denver’s instructional bike map, which includes a section called “on-street bikeways.” It states, “Use appropriate lane. Avoid being in a right turn-only lane if you plan to proceed straight through.”
We spoke with TheCyclist-Lawyer Megan Hottman, attorney for the cyclist. She stated, “My client was following the rules and laws. The motorist was not. It is difficult to imagine how a cyclist could be at fault when he is overtaken by a motorist from behind, who then passes and proceeds to turn into him. I’m not sure there’s anything my client could possibly have done to avoid this collision.”
Hottman informed us that the careless driving charge against her client was dismissed, but an added charge of “unlawful lane use” (54-234) is pending. She states that the City Attorney also wants to add a charge of “Application of Traffic Laws” (54-565). This section essentially says that cyclists shall have all the rights and duties applicable to drivers of vehicles.
Update -Just heard that the city attorney is adding 5 new charges to the cyclist?!?!
We look forward to hearing more about this case, and hope that the Denver County City Attorney’s office will do the right thing and either dismiss the charges against the cyclist, or issue a citation to the driver for her driving violations (or both).