Big Scoop for the Crack CBS 4 Team: Not All Bicyclists Follow All the Rules

According to CBS4, some bicyclists break traffic laws. It’s true. Some people even roll through stop signs and red lights, according to CBS 4’s Kelly Werthmann.

The report did not specify whether people driving multi-ton vehicles also disobey traffic laws, or if it’s just something that People Who Ride Bikes do on their lightweight, human-powered machines. Regardless, the Denver Police Department is “cracking down” on these dangerous offenders.

Lt. Kevin Edling had a message for people on bikes: “You’re the same as a car. Think of yourself as a car.” It was unclear if Edling meant that people on bikes should park in general traffic lanes. After all, many drivers (including Denver PD officers), constantly park their cars in bike lanes, forcing riders to swerve into traffic. There’s no police crackdown on bike lane blockers, though, just on bike riders, who apparently pose a big threat to public safety.

A lot of people don’t feel safe biking next to high-speed motor vehicle traffic. But Denver still has a patchwork bike network where physical protection from cars is rare. In fact, public agencies design some streets, like Federal Boulevard, with the mindset that bicyclists should not use them at all.

CBS 4 didn’t wade into these issues at all. Instead, those cyclists biking on the sidewalk are presented as a bunch of scofflaws.

Maybe Werthmann will be back with a follow-up segment investigating why people on bikes break the law on streets that aren’t designed for cycling. Denver has a local expert on the subject with excellent credentials: the University of Colorado Denver’s Wes Marshall, whose research found that people on bikes often break rules to stay safe. Biking through a red light when the intersection is clear, for example, makes bike riders more visible to the drivers steering big, powerful vehicles behind them.

Perhaps another CBS 4 report will explore how quality bike infrastructure decreases “scofflaw” riding. Or why Denver is so tolerant of speeding, even though a few miles per hour can spell the difference between life and death.

We’ll see.