Uneasy riders

In Colorado, hurling your beer bottle at that annoying cyclist is now illegal. Thank goodness for small favors

Published August 4, 2009 6:17PM (EDT)

This is how progress is made. As the number of bike commuters in the United States gradually increases, states are passing new laws designed to encourage cycling and protect cyclist safety, reports Trevor Hughes at USA Today.

But be thankful for small favors: In Colorado, a new law makes it illegal to throw objects at cyclists. Previously it had only been illegal to hit a cyclist with a beer bottle or other missile.

Now, I'm not one to claim that all cyclists are angels. I can't disagree with Larimer County, Colo., Sheriff James Alderden, who, reports Hughes, "said he thinks some bicyclists, 'cop an attitude' when it comes to following traffic laws." On a century ride this past Saturday I witnessed numerous incidents of bad cyclist behavior, including blowing through stop signs and red lights when there was traffic present, and one pace line of a half-dozen cyclists who seemed determined to ride next to the median, instead of by the shoulder. I was even remonstrated at one point, when I attempted to move by a slow-climbing cyclist on a hill and was told by a passing driver that "cyclists should stay in single file." I felt abashed.

But the idea that until Colorado's new law was passed, police couldn't cite motorists for throwing objects at cyclists if their aim happened to be a little off is just ridiculous. And how about that Rick Perry, governor of Texas? In June, Texas lawmakers joined a growing number of states by passing a law that requires that cars must give riders a 3-foot berth out on the open road. Perry vetoed it.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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