Tuesday Coffee Talk - Sustainable growth in cycling as tensions grow with auto culture

Cycling in the Front Range is growing, growing for road cyclists, commuters and mountain biking is bouncing back and exploding again, especially at the ski resorts. But new roads near popular cycling routes are not being built and probably won't be anytime soon even as numbers increase. With growth comes tenstion (Denver Post). Over the weekend police presence was increased on Deer Creek Canyon according to some readers who ride that route often. Tensions over cyclists doubling up or even riding in packs frustrates residents on these canyon roads but for some simply the existence of cyclists is troubling... but we aren't going away or reducing in our numbers. Using unscientific evaluation I'd say some of these popular routes have easily doubled in cycling traffic in that last 10 years so imagine what the next 10 or 20 years might bring, the canyon roads could be turned into what today might look like a stage route of Ride the Rockies. Even if we as cyclists choose to obey the law the tensions will exists. What are some of the ways to mitigate these tension?

Mountain bikers have a simple solution, more trails. Trails cost a fraction of the cost of a road or a shoulder on the road, the only blocker they run into are fears of environmental damage and costs (even though it is low it still takes money to build and maintain).

Commuters are getting bike paths, bike lanes and sharrows. They don't suffer as much from the "popular route" problem because any and every road is a possible road a bike could be on. Their greatest problem is communities that don't support cycling, or lawless cyclists who live by a different set of rules.

But what about road cyclists and growth on popular routes? Shoulders could be built but there are probably only a handful of front range roads this applies to. How will routes like Deer Creek Canyon or Lefthand Canyon deal with 1000+ cyclists a day on the road?

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11 Comments

Minor fee?

So, this won't be a popular comment but I would gladly pay a dollar (or two) to ride the "popular routes"...if that money would go solely to improving those specific roads: new shoulders, bike lanes, etc. This would quite possibly be a win-win for locals and cyclists: reduced number of riders (because not everyone will pay to ride) and road improvements that would make for better / safer riding.

I've always found it

I've always found it interesting that many people say that we need to encourage cycling. Yet, when the recreational cyclist i out on the road on the weekends, the "serious" cyclists always seem to get so annoyed by them. And having gone through different levels of fitness over the years, I've experienced the varied responses from other cyclists out on the road. fit = acknowledged. unfit = ignored. not scientific, but my perceived reality.

my only point is that regarding topics like this, there's a lot of double speak. Mountain bikers want more access to trails, but hate it when there are other users out there. Cyclists want drivers to shared to road, but want to be the only ones hardcore enough to be on such an "epic" ride.

Maybe...

First of all, I don’t think this is an “all day, every day issue”. Speaking for Deer Creek, etc., this is really only an issue when we (cyclists) are reaching "critical mass" on Saturday's and Sunday's from April through October (roughly 56 days out of the year). Second, I struggle with this whole issue because we are coming to these people’s neighborhoods to ride our bikes en masse. I wonder if we would feel the same if suddenly everyone from the outlying area decided that our neighborhood was an awesome place to drive their car…and every weekend thousands of them descended on our block to drive really slowly in some parts and then crazy fast in others…and we were expected to ‘just deal with it’ because the cars outnumbered the local residents a few days / weeks out of the year.

Excellent point, except we

Excellent point, except we shouldn't assume all the drivers are local residents. The small groups of guys on crotch rockets zipping up and down Deer Creek aren't residents of the area. Lots of folks seem to like to drive up there as well. Given the sparsity of housing up there, coupled with the heavy auto/truck traffic, I'd guess that quite a lot of the traffic isn't the local residents.

Even if 100% is local residents, they are still public roads.

Loving in a ski town, I deal

Loving in a ski town, I deal with an increased population of tourists that flood the town every ski season. They don't know where the lanes are, or where they are going, or how to deal with the snow. Their traffic makes me frustrated, and sometimes angry, but I don't get to threaten their lives with my F250. We as a society need to take measures to reduce the anger, and accept that roads are not freeways, and going at the speed limit is not a right. Things may be in the road to slow you down, and they have the right to be there, and drivers need too take a deep breath and slow down to share the road in a safe manner. As stated below, road design and construction can play a huge role in making use for everyone safer. Demand from your elected official safer better road, and be ready to vote for taxes to pay for them. Safer roads are good for all users.

Great analogy and it

Great analogy and it highlights what I think to be the critical problem for all groups involved: the growing "it's all about me all of the time" attitude within our culture as well as the tendency to magnify a minor inconvenience to the level of a personal affront that demands response or retribution.

Would be great if we could all show a little deference to our fellow citizen or at the very least stop taking every little thing so personally.

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