Gov. Bill Ritter signed a bicycle safety bill Monday that clarifies cyclists' rights and seeks to better protect them from aggressive drivers.
Starting Aug. 5, drivers give cyclists at least three feet of space when passing or risk a $110 ticket. Anyone who throws an object at a cyclist also could be charged with a misdemeanor carrying a fine of $250 to $1,000 and up to 12 months in jail.
"One of the great things about Colorado is that so many people love to bike," Gov. Ritter said in a statement. "But it also means that cyclists and motorists alike must take extra precautions so that we can share the road safely. This new law will enhance safety for everyone."
Though some have raised concern that the law could lead to increased conflict between riders and drivers, Boulder Cycling Club President Donald Cicchillo said the majority of cyclists are "very conscious of safety" and won't take advantage of the law.
"Cyclists deserve to have rights just like everybody else," he said. "This gives more protection to cyclists. You have to give us room when you pass. You can't abuse a cyclist and get away with it."
"The hope is that it creates safer roads," said Dan Grunig, executive director of Bicycle Colorado. "The law takes into account a lot of common-sense, share-the-road practices that people do every day, and legalizes them."
He said the law shouldn't change most cyclists' habits of using common sense on the roads.
"Cyclists don't want to hold up traffic," Grunig said.
Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle initially opposed the bill, but changed his stance after language was removed that would have allowed cyclists to ride two abreast even if they were on narrow roads and impeding traffic.
The bill now states that cyclists can ride two-abreast in any situation, so long as they're not impeding traffic.
Pelle said the law adds some protections for cyclists, but may prove difficult to enforce. He said "98 percent of cyclists and motorists treat each other with respect," but the small percentage who don't are causing frustration on both sides.