Sunday, September 12, 2010

Denver Diamond Dash

So I had just arrived downtown to meet up with my partner for lunch on the 16th Street Mall. Right away I began noticing people scurrying about in matching green t-shirts that identified them as participants in the Denver Diamond Dash, which I assumed to be yet another urban race/scavenger hunt of some sort. Denver's had a ton of them this summer for some reason and they're usually super good fun.

This one was different though because the participants were on wheels. A few were on rollerblades but the vast majority were on bicycles.

And they were driving like idiots. All of them. Like idiots.

During the lunch I enjoyed outside on the patio of Noodles & Co, and during my rides to and from downtown, I saw probably fifty couples. Here are some of the behaviors they displayed!

  1. Riding on the sidewalk. And not just toodling along like you see some people doing. This event is a race, and they were riding like it, whizzing and careening through the mobs of pedestrians that teem through the mall on a Sunday afternoon.

    Please note that riding on the sidewalk is illegal. In fact, it is printed in big letters on the very B-Cycles that were flying down the sidewalk. Do not ride on the sidewalk.

  2. Uber-salmoning. Riding in the street (yay) but against traffic on a one-way street (boo!).

  3. Texting. I passed a girl who was texting on her blackberry while precariously wobbling her bike down the sidewalk. I was able to see her for 5 - 8 seconds and she didn't once lift her eyes away from her device.

  4. Riding on the 16th Street Mall. Granted, it is Sunday, which is arbitrarily the day that one is permitted to ride on the mall. But many of the participants are likely not aware of the distinction or of the rule in the first place.

  5. No helmets. Not one helmet. Not a single helmet. You don't have to wear a helmet, I know, and sometimes I don't. But I'm an educated, confident cyclist. These bozos were begging for a crash, and not one of them was wearing a helmet.

In the interest of total honesty, I did see two people who were following all of the rules of the road. Thank you, those two people.

Now, as we all know, this summer has been widely reported to be the Summer Of Crack Down, during which the police will be ticketing and citing cyclists for all manner of infractions. So I decided to call DPD to see if they had yet handed out any tickets. (Actually, I called DPD because I wanted to complain about the recklessness to somebody and I didn't see a phone number on the Diamond Dash website.)

I called the non-emergency number because, as far as I knew, none of the mad dashers had yet caused any traffic incidents.

The dispatcher didn't really understand what my complaint was, but transferred me to an officer anyway. The officer told me that riding on the sidewalk is allowed during an event.

This left me flabbergasted.

If the event were one during which the sidewalks are closed to pedestrian traffic, then that would reasonable. But that was not the case today. This is a law that exists for obvious safety reasons, and in breaking it the participants of this event were creating obvious safety hazards.

On my way home, I saw two pedestrians tapping along with white safety canes, and I hoped fervently that they make it safely to where ever they were going. Because they certainly aren't going to get any assistance or support from the police department. Not even during the Summer Of Crack Down.

Because there's an event.

Safety issues aside, they were all just so damn visible. There were so many of them, and they were driving so badly, providing so much support for the notion that cyclists are at best inconsiderate goofballs and are at worst reckless scofflaws. Anybody looking for confirmation of that belief had all the support in the world downtown today.

And that's not fair. I'm a careful, considerate, conscientious cyclist. But anybody who encounters me on the road today after driving through downtown this afternoon is likely to identify me as a dangerous idiot.


DriversAgainstBikesOnStreets said...

I remember growing up as kids we were taught NOT to play in the streets. That included tag, hide and seek and all the other games children play. However, the one that sticks out most as I'm sure many can agree was NOT to ride my bike in the street! By physics one with more mass and faster velocity hitting an object in motion or not in motion would cause great damage to the smaller object.So for YOUR safety don't ride the streets! As an experianced driver and resident of Colorado for many years now it seems that "experienced Lance Armstong wanna be's" think that they already own the road and they have every right available to them. Ethically speaking how is it "right" to impede traffic when you guys don't even follow the traffic signals? As well as cutting in between us cars? Your so-called "reputation" for a careful, considerate, conscientious cyclist only exsist in your mind because that has never been visable in my personal experiance with ANY cyclist...unless your a diamond in the rough? So please don't blame a group of people when the history of oblivious, rude, road hogging, accident waiting to happen cyclist have always been there. I think you should receive a few spankings from your parents for not staying out of the street!

Anonymous said...

To the above comment, riding your bike on the sidewalk in Denver is against the law:

Section 54-576

AllForSafety said...

To the above comment, With the exception of Sundays and events you may ride the side walk. I guess the next time when a cyclist is hogging a whole lane, stopping up real traffic, and they end up on the windshield of a car... I won't feel to bad because like you said, "it's the law." And for your information the parking meters are free on Sunday.

Cassidy said...

Would you really have preferred 600 inexperienced bicyclists clogging the actual traffic? Not to mention the fact that the drivers don't seem to care if you're supposed to be on the street. I was one of those participating in that event. At first I tried to stay in the street, until a huge dodge ram all but tried to hit me. Then I stayed on the sidewalks, apologizing to everybody I passed. Really, you should find other things to waste your complaining on. Nobody got hurt.