Are you practicing Conscious Cycling

While this article is a few years old the concept is timeless and after we received some reports from cyclists that this weekends famous Gateway Ride had and lot of poor behavior so we felt it is time to recycle

When you ride on that big group ride, how consciously aware are you to the image you create, the snapshot in others minds and the connectedness you have with the environment around you? Every time we throw a leg over the top tube we instantly become a representative of cycling and that representation can exponentially grow as the size of the group does. Much like the related current term of "conscious capitalism" one can think of this as "conscious cycling", specifically in regards to group rides as "enjoying the ride while being mindful of others within the group and those sharing the same resources as you". That statement can also apply to individual road riders, mountain bikers, commuters, and even those in others sports like running, rock climbing etc.

The Boulder County Sheriff's Office is looking for means to get the cycling community to "Self-Police" themselves while reaching out to cyclists to understand our side of the story, express problem areas, educate law breaking group rides and communicate the law without having to engage in strict enforcement. The Boulder County Department of Transportation is also engaged in an outreach program with the recent survey on motorist and cyclist tensions in the canyons. The Cyclist/Motorist Canyon Work Group was created by Boulder County Transportation and they really are looking for successful means to have cyclists and motorist exist in harmony on our roads.


Conscious Cycling

Hopefully, the majority of the readers of this site are already practicing "Conscious Cycling" and to some degree they Self-Police their peers in daily cycling activities, whether its riding solo or on a club ride. It's that 10% that refuses to be respectful and courteous to other road users and who tarnish the county-wide image of cyclists. It is also that 10% who spark the type of comments we've all heard at some time or another, "you aren't one of those guys flying down hwy 36 taking up the whole traffic lane are you?" Don't you get tired of trying to defend the image of group riding?

Self-policing is perhaps the best tool to help ensure we have access, safety, and fun as we ride with our peers. It will also require leaders willing to speak up and break the large group you're in into several smaller groups or say something when the group ride you are on fans out into the traffic lane and impedes the flow of traffic? That's exactly what needs to happen if the group rides of Boulder County are going to survive the ever growing use of roadways by both motorists and cyclists. The County and the Sheriff's Office can't attempt to educate cyclists and motorists forever. If we don't learn from that education, group rides like Gateway and Bustop could receive increased attention from the County, potentially causing them to disappear from Boulder County altogether. The time to clean up our act is now as group rides could be gone tomorrow.


Kris Thompson - Founder of 303Cycling by day and software engineer by day too. Find me at Google+


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23 Comments

A good subject to discuss

As a Boulder native and somewhat fast racer, I find this topic quite interesting.

Our sport (road cycling) is performed on a public space and, at the amateur level, frequently on open roads. I think it is natural that road cyclists will want to simulate/practice race conditions in their training.

One problem is that the law does not always make sense. A tractor can drive down the full lane of Foothills Highway at 25 mph as long as there is an orange triangle on the back. I'm not sure why a large pack of cyclists is treated differently than a tractor in this circumstance. Perhaps the rear rider can wear a triangle jersey?

This argument may be a little extreme, especially for US 36 which has an ample shoulder wide enough for at least two riders. Interestingly, it seems the two pictures of the group rides above are the same ride on the same day. (See the blue and red shorts and red seat tubes on the bike? (Try right clicking the images to view full size) This shows self-policing at work; the ride is within the shoulder on a busy road with a wide shoulder, but takes a lane on a quiet road with a shoulder that would not fit even a single cyclist.

I realize this behavior may not be within the law, but it seems reasonable to ask a vehicle to wait to find a safe place to pass a large group of cyclists on a quiet country road on Sunday morning.

Well said Russell

Can you imagine the single file line that pack would have formed in the upper pic? Try safely passing 100 feet of single file cyclists with a double yellow and no shoulder- yikes. I think I can see the driver bitching about the cyclists on his bluetooth while navigating on the dashboard GPS... Most cyclist do self police which equates to self protect. Predictability is everyone's friend and the only way to accomplish that is to follow the rules of the road, and yes- take the lane sometimes (my tax dollars expand all the way to the double yellow when needed).

Why Bother?

Why do race promoters bother to get permits for events? If what you guys are saying is true, our tax dollars entitle us to use the roadways in large groups whenever we feel its needed. The impact of a group ride and permitted race are very similar to your average motorist.

Crack down

I would love to see the Boulder County Sheriff enforce any and all applicable laws on the gateway and bustop rides. Those things were a black eye for cycling years ago and that has only gotten worse as both cycling and vehicle traffic has increased. People who do those things deserve ticket or two, they make all of us look bad and contribute to road rage.

It's time for some action before someone gets killed in a road rage incident somewhere in the boulder county bubble.

Group ride rules

What about these for starter rules on group rides:

1. Keep numbers to less than 50 (pretty sure above 50 requires a permit)

2. All riders in shoulder, leave the lane for emergencies (crashes wind gusts etc)

3. Only ride on roads with wide shoulders, (face it, taking a whole lane without a permit REALLY pisses drivers off)

4. If you're gonna show how manly you are and try to shatter the group, do it so the group gets guttered, not fans out into traffic or the other lane.

5. If someone is breaking #4, let them go ride by themselves. they clearly want to drop all of you anyway.

6. Break the above and be ready to have friendly conversation with a highway patrolman or sheriff's deputy.

What else can people think of??

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