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A cyclist's appeal to drivers

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Last week I attended a Bike Master Plan presentation by the Active Transportation Advisory Committee (ATAC) downtown. During the meeting, I was shocked to hear the disdain, or even contempt, that some of my fellow citizens seem to have for cycling lanes and cyclists. From what I heard, you would think cycling is the chosen mode of transportation of Satan himself.

As a cycling enthusiast, please allow me the opportunity to attempt to show that cyclists don’t ride because they are tools of the devil, but on the contrary, they do so out of their love of humanity.

I ride anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 miles a year on my bike. Cycling is good for my health, my wallet, and I love each ride being out in nature. When I am feeling low or want some time to think, there is nothing like a ride that clears my mind or reduces any kind of stress I may be experiencing. That makes me a better, more enjoyable fellow citizen.

I also own a car and pay to register it like all car owners. I have no problem paying that fee for a vehicle I drive maybe 7,000 miles a year.

I live near downtown and love parking my bike and leaving a parking spot available for those who want to drive cars. For those of you who think we cyclists are ruining downtown, I want you to think of this. The next time you have a hard time finding a parking spot, thank all the people whose bikes you see parked everywhere. They could be in a car right in front of you grabbing that last spot.

As a driver, I can empathize with drivers getting blocked behind cyclists or worrying about those riding on “the white line.” As a cyclist, I can also tell you I try to ride as far to the right as possible, even though legally I have every right to be in the middle of the lane like a vehicle. I ride in shoulders, gutters, and every place I can safely ride to allow autos to easily pass me. I’m not trying to slow you down, but if I and my fellow cyclists were in cars, I am sure you’d miss that green light. I am sure you’d have to wait a few more rotations at that stop sign. You see, my presence on a bike alleviates your traffic. Occasionally, I may slow you down, but please know that is not my intention.
Lastly, as a cyclist, sometimes I get honked at, yelled at, swerved at, and threatened by 4,000-pound vehicles. Any confrontation between a car and my bike is ALWAYS a losing situation for me. I admit that some cyclists break laws and can be jerks. Please acknowledge that they are a small minority as I acknowledge the people that do the aforementioned things are a very small minority, too. The worst thing I can do to you is make you 20 seconds later. The worst thing you can do to me is kill me. Is 20 seconds really worth making my children fatherless?

We can all get along and share the road. If a city like Washington, D.C., can have bike lanes throughout it, surely Colorado Springs can, too. If 40 percent of the residents of Copenhagen can ride bikes safely, surely Colorado Springs can, too. Cycling is not the antithesis of automobile drivers. Cars will always outnumber bikes in Colorado Springs, but if people want to ride bikes and lessen your traffic, pay for cars we try to keep parked as much as possible, stay in good health to lower all of our health care costs, why not support them and their interests? Their interests are the same as yours: stay in good health, lessen their damage to the environment, and at the end of the day make it home safely to their
loved ones.

To those who wave, smile, and yield to me on a daily basis as I ride around this great city, I say a heartfelt thank you! As many of you, I moved here for a job, but also because of how beautiful it is here. I love the four seasons here. I ride year-round. I’ll promise to respect you and the traffic laws to the best of my ability. All I ask is that you do the same and realize we are all in this together. All of our roads end up in the same place. Let’s just help each other in getting there at our own pace.
GREG THORNTON
  • Greg Thornton

Greg Thornton is a father of two college-age kids. He’s worked in the financial services field for over 25 years, now specializing in socially responsible investing. He loves the outdoors, especially mountain biking, and wants to keep Colorado awesome!

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