November 30 2005, 5:30 PM
Cyclists outraged by the State Highway Patrol's decision to outlaw cycling events with more than 2,500 riders, which we wrote about this morning, now have two influential supporters. Colorado Sen. Greg Brophy (R-Wray) and Rep. Terrance Carroll (D-Denver) today sent a strongly worded letter to Col. Mark V. Trostel, chief of the patrol, in which they question both the policy and the patrol's claim that it developed the policy in concert with the state legislature.
We were even more surprised to hear the State Patrol claim it had arrived at its unilateral action "after ample consultation withâ€¦members of Colorado's legislature.â€? The only word we received from your agency on this matter came after the new policy already was a done deal. As a House Democrat and a Senate Republican who are avid cyclists, we also can assure you none of the major cycling organizations with which we are in regular contact were consulted. Had they been, they would have registered strong objections.The full letter follows the jump.
Colonel Mark V. Trostel Chief, Colorado State Patrol 700 Kipling St., Ste. 1000 Denver, CO 80215-5885 Dear Colonel Trostel, We were surprised and dismayed to learn that the Colorado State Patrol has limited the number of participants in major cycling events â€“ undermining a major draw for tourism as well as a growing source of economic development and charitable giving in our state. We were even more surprised to hear the State Patrol claim it had arrived at its unilateral action "after ample consultation withâ€¦members of Colorado's legislature.â€? The only word we received from your agency on this matter came after the new policy already was a done deal. As a House Democrat and a Senate Republican who are avid cyclists, we also can assure you none of the major cycling organizations with which we are in regular contact were consulted. Had they been, they would have registered strong objections. The cap of 2,500 participants in bicycle and triathalon events in our state appears completely arbitrary and doesn't seem to be based on any generally accepted parameters we know of. That number would cut significantly into the level of participation in two prominent and highly popular annual cycling fund-raisers along the Front Range â€“ the Elephant Rock ride and the Triple Bypass. Moreover, it is our understanding the cap could be further lowered by the State Patrol, jeopardizing yet other well-known events. We certainly appreciate the State Patrol and support it in its duty to ensure the safety of cyclists as well as motorists on our highways. However, we cannot fathom how this new cap is supposed to be "saferâ€? than any other number. For that matter, it's not at all clear how any particular number of participants presents an ideal threshold when conditions vary so greatly from one event to the next. To the best of our knowledge, there is no research supporting a cap. As for the cost of providing public-safety support for major events, it's important to remember that the event sponsors and organizers pick up that tab. It seems that your staff arrived at this determination in a vacuum, without regard to the realities surrounding any given cycling event. That unfortunate outcome was inevitable when your agency didn't invite public input well in advance. Not only does the result make for poor public policy, but the way your agency arrived at it, frankly, displays disrespect for the public you are sworn to protect. Bicycling has become part of the signature of Colorado and reaffirms this state's envied status as a world-class destination for recreational tourism. Cycling is a sport that appeals to almost every age and income group; the two of us hail from inner-city Denver and the rural eastern plains, respectively. Cycling is extremely popular and growing more so every year. It not only is helping make Colorado one of the healthiest states but also is driving a small-business boom in bike shops and bike-related products and services. Major cycling events in particular raise millions of dollars annually for charity, and bicycle tourism and events contribute an estimated $167 million to our state's economy and more than 2,000 jobs. Why are we placing all of that in jeopardy? Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray Rep. Terrance Carroll, D-Denver