Stroller: Taking responsibility for promoting safe road biking
Treasurer of Summit Biking Inc.
A few weeks ago, I rode the recreation path from Frisco to Vail Pass. I arrived at the parking lot just as van was unloading a group of tourists who were preparing to ride downhill to Frisco. Road bikers who frequent this stretch of bike path have all encountered these downhill riders. Often they pose a significant threat to other riders on the path as well as to themselves. It is not uncommon for them to stop on the path to take a picture, rest, have a drink of water etc. Not uncommonly they lack the ability to handle the switchbacks on the upper sections of the trail, and are forced to veer into the uphill lane, or simply get off their bikes to walk the more difficult sections. These comments are not meant to suggest that these riders shouldn’t be on the rec paths. However they should have an understanding of what they will be encountering on their downhill outing. More importantly they should be given some instruction as to how to manage their ride. At the very least they should all be wearing helmets.
I took some time on my way back to Frisco to talk with a number of riders who had been shuttled to the Vail Pass parking lot. One group who had been driven up by a bike store in Breckenridge was very well prepared. All were wearing helmets. Incidentally, the helmets were provided at no additional charge and everyone was encouraged to wear them. They were given instructions regarding the “rules of the road” and were even warned about the need to ride the switchbacks with extreme caution. A second group included a number of riders who were not wearing helmets. The outfitter that they had rented their bikes from charged extra for the rental of a helmet. This group of riders had been given very minimal instruction as to how to safely manage their biking experience. Obviously the shops that include the price of a helmet with the bike rental and give adequate instructions should be commended.
My plea is for the companies who are facilitating downhill biking experience use a little common sense. Like the Breck Company who included helmets in the bike rental and shuttle fee, helmets should be part of the deal, and wearing them should be strongly encouraged. They should take a few minutes to talk to the group in a quiet setting advising them of the need to stay right and get off the path if they need to stop. They should take a few minutes before transporting the group up the hill to watch their perspective clients ride. Individuals who appear to lack reasonably good biking skills should be encouraged to forgo the trip for their safety and the safety of others. I understand that economic times have been hard on local merchants and that the need to earn a living can cloud good judgment. I also understand that we are a free society. However when we act irresponsibly government has a way of stepping in and imposing rules that are often onerous and stifling.
In an effort to help those stores and outfitters who rent bikes, the members of Summit Biking Inc. are making available a short written tutorial on safe road biking. We sincerely hope that the rental companies will utilize these handouts.
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