Doug Linkhart, ex-councilman, hit while cycling to Bike To Work Day event

Categories: Politics

doug linkhart casual head shot.jpg
Doug Linkhart
This was not how Bike To Work Day was supposed to go.

Sitting in on part of a Denver City Council retreat yesterday, Westword learned that ex-councilman Doug Linkhart, who ran for mayor last year, was hit by a pickup truck while cycling to a Bike To Work Day event with the mayor and current councilpersons.

Fortunately, he's fine, but the incident did prompt a conversation between council members and the mayor about road safety regulations and the interactions between cyclists and vehicles.

But before we get to that dialogue, here's a rundown of what happened to Linkhart yesterday morning.

According to Linkhart, he was heading west on 23rd Avenue -- on a bike route -- approaching Downing Street when a pickup truck went to make a left turn and collided with him.

"I was going straight. He turned left in front of me, and...hit me across the side, and I fell down," Linkhart recalls.

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Bill Ritter.
Linkhart, who is currently the manager of the city's Department of Environmental Health, didn't suffer as much damage as did then-Governor Bill Ritter during his 2010 biking accident; he was hospitalized for multiple rib fractures. However, Linkhart was scraped up badly, his bike got a bit bent and he had to get several stitches in his leg.

"I kinda went flying," he said. "I kind of plowed into the sidewalk. I had a helmet, which didn't help."

Linkhart, going straight, had the right of way over the pickup truck, which was turning left.

"The guy gets out and says it's my fault. He said, 'You gotta watch your turns.' I told him, 'I'm not turning,'" notes Linkhart, adding that he finally convinced the driver that he was in fact in the wrong.

For Linkhart, it was a sign that the city does need to do more to address safety risks for cyclists.

"We have a long ways to go to educate cars to look out for bikes," he says. "They are not looking for bikes. It's going to take awhile before Denver gets to the point of Portland and other places where bikes [and cars]...share the road peacefully."

That will require a serious shift, he believes. "It's changing the culture that's...important. You can change the rules, but changing the culture where you share the road is so important."

He says he doesn't bike to work too regularly, but tries to cycle or ride the bus once or twice a week.

"I recognize that bicyclists put themselves at risk out there," he says. "These things can be tragic. I guess I was lucky."

Page down to read about the Denver City Council's conversation with the mayor about bike safety, prompted by Linkhart's incident.

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