Colorado License Plate: 533 MLA; Bronze 1990s Olds Van
What sometimes seems like an outright battle between cyclists and automobile drivers is almost always a lost battle for the person on the bike with the cyclist seriously injured or dead while the automobile driver continuing on with their life.
Today was once again one of those days that could have been me, but I prevailed and local police say they are going to do something about it.
Today was a recovery ride, easy going, just to help push the crud out of the legs and keep the blood flowing. As I was on the home stretch, approaching Kipling on 26th from the West, I was sideswiped by a van (the one in the title). Their side view mirror nicked my left arm just enough to leave a streak of dirt.
The light at the intersection was red and they had to stop so I pulled up next to them, their window was down. Even though I had adrenaline coursing through my veins I did my best to talk calmly (doubt it came off that way). I asked them if they knew they just about ran me over and that they hit me with their side view mirror. At first I couldn’t hear what the lady said but she had nothing but an annoyed apathetic look on their face, and I said “What!?!”… and she responded “I don’t care”.
Well I’m not exactly sure what I said next, but the lady wouldn’t even look at me. I do know I went on about the 3 feet to pass law and what happens to a cyclist when they are hit by a car, even if seems like a minor bump. I mentioned I was willing to call the police, and she rolled her eyes. She eventually mumbled she was sorry, but I didn’t buy it. She certainly didn’t seem to care.
When the light turned green, she stomped on the gas and did a burnout. I decided then to get her plate number and file a complaint.
I got home and called Wheatridge Police, they seemed to be right on it and took down my info and said that they would dispatch this out to patrol and have it on their boards for a few days. Then they noted that the intersection was under Lakewood jurisdiction (confusing because the addresses are all WheatRidge) and that I should also a file a complaint with them. They transferred me over, that was great!
So I went through the same basic process with Lakewood, but was asked if I wanted to file a complaint and if I could identify the driver in court, I said yes. About 15 minutes later I got a call back from an officer and I went through the details. The officer then explained that they would increase patrols in that area as well as monitor the situation overall at the intersection. Cool.
While I had the officer on the phone I asked him if I could make a general complaint about Garrison St. He said yes definitely. So I told him about the drivers who use the bike lane to swerve around people trying to make left turns as well as my favorite problem of motorist using the bike lane to make right turns onto the frontage road at 6th and how several times someone has beeped at me to get out of the way (bike lane) so they can make their illegal turn.
At the end of the day no harm to me, thankfully. The police have heard my complaints and made record of them, they indicate that they will take action to make sure their patrols are aware of the issues and to keep an eye out.
In the near term I don’t expect a whole lot, the problem is bigger than the law. Too many people don’t care to live as a part of society and take notice of others. Cyclists will always be on the losing end of a car vs bike incident no matter what, but awareness of the problem is important.