CO Bike Accidents Are Rising, With Famous Cyclist Among Recent Victims

Cycling is a popular pastime and a means of getting around town for many people in Larimer County and other parts of Colorado. Despite the growing popularity of biking and the laws that have been changed to protect bikers, however, a troubling number of Colorado bike accidents are still occurring. A recent accident in Boulder involving a former Olympic cyclist highlights the fact that bicycle riders in Colorado still face significant risks.

Experienced cyclist severely injured

When some people hear about bike accidents, they may assume that the biker played some role by being inexperienced or responding poorly to the situation. However, CBS Denver reported in September that famous bicyclist Dale Stetina was injured in a near-miss with a vehicle. Over the course of his career, Stetina collected more than 200 bike race wins, including Colorado's own Coors Classic, so he clearly had plenty of cycling experience.

CBS reported that, as Stetina and his group biked east in Lefthand Canyon, an approaching SUV going west crossed the center line and continued all the way to the shoulder on the group's side of the road. The driver corrected his course, and none of the cyclists were hit. However, when Stetina swerved and braked, he lost control and flew over his handlebars.

After the accident, Stetina was hospitalized in critical condition. Even though he was wearing a helmet, he suffered a brain injury and temporarily lost movement in the left side of his body. CBS reported that, fortunately, Stetina was starting to recover and regain normal functions. Still, the sad story illustrates the fact that biking in Colorado carries a risk that even the most experienced cyclists may not be able to mitigate.

More focus on safe driving needed

By Colorado law, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles, and drivers are supposed to share the road. However, over the last few years, the trend in Colorado bicycle accidents has not been encouraging. The Vail Daily reported earlier this year that, from 2002 to 2012, there was a 44 percent rise in bicycle fatalities. From 2011 to 2012 alone, bike accident fatalities increased by 63 percent.

The statistics for 2011 indicate an increase in an already alarming trend. The Colorado Department of Transportation has launched a "Share the Road, Friend" campaign to remind drivers, bicyclists and even pedestrians of their obligations to be courteous and stay alert to each other. The DOT recommends different behaviors for each group:

  • Motorists should never drive while distracted by an electronic device.
  • Motorists should leave at least a three-foot cushion when passing cyclists.
  • Motorists should watch for cyclists in their rearview mirrors.
  • Cyclists should obey traffic laws and follow traffic signals.
  • Cyclists should ride with the flow of traffic.

These are important guidelines for both parties to keep in mind. Unfortunately, people on bicycles are often powerless to avoid an accident caused by the actions of someone driving a vehicle, and the consequences can be steep.

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a bicycle accident, it's crucial that you speak to an attorney immediately about preserving evidence and putting together your case.