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

Categories: Politics

Mayor Michael Hancock at City Council retreat.JPG
Photo by Sam Levin
Mayor Michael Hancock talking to the City Council at its annual "Priorities Retreat."
Little did Linkhart know, his collision prompted a debate about cycling during the mayor's roughly hour-long visit to the Denver City Council yesterday morning as part of its all-day retreat.

Councilwoman Susan Shepherd raised the concern, noting Linkhart's crash as well as another bike accident involving a city employee earlier this week, in which the woman ended up breaking her collarbone and is currently taking time off.

"I very much appreciated getting to cycle down to Civic Center Park with you and I appreciate the comments you made...[about] being committed to multi-modal in this city, but I'm particularly disturbed by the fact that...Doug Linkhart was hit on the way down to meet us today," Shepherd said to the mayor, noting that the other bike accident happened on Monday. "And that is just appalling to me.... If we really want to focus on multi-modal, which is one of my top priorities, it's got to be safe. We've got to pursue everything, including educating drivers."

Thumbnail image for Mayor Michael Hancock at City Council retreat.JPG
Sam Levin
Mayor Michael Hancock talking to the City Council at its annual "Priorities Retreat" yesterday.
Other Council members then brought up the fact that cyclists need to be educated too, since they often run through stop signs.

"And you can get a ticket for that and should get a ticket for that," Mayor Michael Hancock chimed in. "It's about the safety of you and the motorist." (Linkhart told us that he would favor the kind of regulation where cyclists can treat stop signs as yield signs and stop lights as stop signs -- which, in actuality, is how a lot of bikers do treat those signs).

Hancock went on to say that Denver has looked toward Chicago as a model and is thinking carefully about how it implements bike lanes, as well as looking at potential protected curbs for such lanes when possible.

"To make it safer for all of us, there's got to be a culture change," Hancock said. "Motorists have to get used to acknowledging and respecting bikers, and bikers have to get used to acknowledging and respecting the traffic regulations that you have to abide by."

Shepherd told Westword afterward that she really wants to see cycling become an integral part of local transportation, but she's still really concerned about basic safety.

"This is a big shift for Denver, because everyone's really attached to their cars," she said.

More from our Politics archive: "Video: Fight Back Colorado to target lawmakers who killed civil unions bill"

Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.

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