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Colorado bill would give bicyclists the right of way in the bike lane

The bill would make a new traffic offense for drivers who fail to yield to cyclists in the bike lane.

DENVER — Jack Todd considers himself lucky to commute on his bike. He hasn't taken his car to work in more than two years. 

“What’s not awesome about riding?” Todd smiled. “Colorado’s got so much to offer and it’s a great place to ride a bike.”

The communications and policy manager for Bicycle Colorado would argue the good outweighs the bad, but cycling in Colorado is not always carefree. 

"It can be challenging to ride a bike mixing with drivers and with other road users as well," he said.

Intersections, in particular, can be dangerous for those on two wheels. Todd described a "right-hook crash" that can happen when a car makes a right turn in front of a cyclist continuing straight. 

“That’s the most common crash and one of the most dangerous crashes that we see," he said.

Colorado is considering legislation that aims to protect cyclists those types of crashes. 

“It’s called the bike lane bill and it establishes that bicyclists have the right of way in the bike lane,” Todd said.

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Sen. Mike Foote, a Democrat, is sponsoring the bill introduced the first day of the legislative session. If signed into law, the bill would create a new traffic offense for drivers who fail to yield to cyclists in the bike lane.

"You [would] get a ticket for blocking the right of way of a bicyclist," Todd explained. "It’s a $70 ticket.”

Breaking the proposed law would be a Class A offense unless the driver caused a crash or there was an injury involved. In those cases, the driver would face a careless driving charge. 

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Though steps away from becoming law, the idea sits well with Todd and Bicycle Colorado.

"We're all for it," he said. "When people have designated space on the roadway, the rules really become clearer for everyone and that’s a great thing.”

The bill will be heard before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, Feb. 3.

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