Despite being awarded a "Gold" level for bicycle friendly by the League of American Bicyclists Magazine, bike accidents continue to threaten public safety. (CU Independent file/Alison Messinger)
The night was dense and dark when the car slid into her, knocking her off her bike and into an ambulance. She was riding her bicycle home through the crosswalk on Baseline towards 30th St. as the car turned a hard left into her.
Alexis Bridenbaugh, an 18-year-old sophomore film studies and broadcast news major at CU, said that although she didn’t break any bones in the accident, she was not completely void of injuries.
“I had a really big road burn, or a scrape, on my shoulder as big as a cookie or something, a big bruise on my eye, my knee was messed up, my bike messed up and bruises all down my leg,” Bridenbaugh said. “The tire was bent and I had to get it replaced.”
Reflecting on her biking accident, Bridenbaugh said it comes down to a disregard of the rules.
“I think there’s a lot of biking rules, but a lot of people don’t follow them all of the time,” Bridenbaugh said. “That makes it harder to make it safe, because obviously it doesn’t work if not everyone’s following them.”
Her experience with the police in reporting the accident wasn’t what she expected, Bridenbaugh said.
“The cops kind of talked to me like I was an idiot. He was like, ‘Next time you need to get off your bike when crossing the crosswalk because that’s the rules,’ and was not sympathetic at all. Even though there wasn’t a light at the crosswalk. It was like a really small side street. He said that I had to get off my bike and walk it across.”
This was not the only reported bicycling accident in the last few weeks.
On Sept. 30, Gillian Stewart-Moore, 21-year-old junior biochemistry major, was hit by a car while riding her bike on the crosswalk. She was placed on a stretcher and taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, according to Boulder Police Department Spokeswoman Sarah Huntley.
According to some students bicyclists themselves can be a hazard as well.
Steve Benedict, a 20-year-old senior electrical engineering major, said he accidentally ran his bike into a car.
“I was coming down the hill from the Coors Events center towards campus,” Benedict said. “I was late for class, and I looked to the left, didn’t see any cars, looked to right it was clear. [I] looked back to the left and there was a car.”
Benedict said he suffered from injuries in the accident.
“I had a head laceration, bruising on my legs, and my hand went through the window,” Benedict said. “I ended up getting a ticket for failing to yield, since there was no crosswalk.”
Bicycle riding has a long-standing place in Boulder culture. The League of American Bicyclists Magazine categorized Boulder as a Gold community for its Bicycle Friendly Community award in 2008.
Currently the Boulder bicycling laws state that while on the road all bikes are treated as cars and must obey all traffic laws. Bicyclists cannot ride against the flow of traffic, although they can ride on either side of a one-way street.
Bikes can be ridden on the sidewalks, but all electric vehicles as well as skateboards and scooters, are not allowed on sidewalks and paths.
New laws have also been put into place.
Gov. Bill Ritter passed a Bicycle Safety Act on Aug. 5 that says bicyclists should get a space of at least 3 feet when vehicles pass them. Vehicles may also cross the center lane in the road to give the bicyclists a 3-foot space so long as they check that it is clear first.
The act also states that bicyclists can ride side by side, but are asked to switch to single file if there is a vehicle that wants to pass.
Bicyclists can get tickets and BUI’s, according to Boulder Police Department Spokeswoman Sarah Huntley. Usually though, they are written up as DUI’s without points being taken off your license.
Skateboards are different.
“We can cite them, but it’s not under the DUI,” Huntley said. “It’s under the drunken pedestrian on a public roadway.”
Other modes of transportation do fall under the DUI category Huntley said.
“The state does also allow us to issue a DUI for someone riding a horse intoxicated. How’s that for trivia?”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Andrea Rael at Andrea.email@example.com.
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