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.
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.