Dear line of action: Why is the river path / easement behind Natural Grocers still closed? I understood that the improvements were a condition of the construction of the hotel. However, the hotel has been open for almost a year and still no access. This is especially difficult for strollers, wheelchairs, etc., who cannot climb the rough stairs near the pottery store. – Diane
Dear Diana: Yeah, these aren’t the most beautiful stairs in the world, are they? Even walking them is dangerous. Miss a step and you’ll tear a knee on those razor-sharp metal pull-up spikes. And they are stiff. Miss a step on the way down and… cannonball!
The spur of the Animas River Trail in question begins at the southern end of Iris Park. The main trail heads to the west side of the river over a bridge, while the spur runs along the east side of the river behind Natural Grocers and Holiday Inn Express Durango. The spur, although largely completed, is fenced off at both ends and there is apparently some work remaining at the south end.
It is not clear to Action Line exactly how this spur will be used. Those coming out of the south end can walk up to Camino del Rio and have quick access to two second hand parking lots, for what it’s worth. It will certainly be convenient for hotel guests. However, those wishing to travel more directly to Natural Grocers will need to use an alleyway from the hotel.
Regardless, the city made an agreement with the owners of Holiday Inn about three years ago to acquire this strip of property for the Spur Trail. The developer offered to pay for the spur because of its benefit to the guests.
In September 2020, the Holiday Inn opened, but exterior work was not complete. This included work on the branching of the river trail and adjacent landscaping, said Scott McClain, deputy director of Durango Parks and Recreation. The city let the hostel open with the agreement that exterior work would be completed this summer.
The contractor is compiling a list of exterior projects that he still has to complete. It’s unclear when the Spur Trail will finally be ready to open, but one would assume it will be at the top of the list. One might assume. Because a deal is a deal. Law?
Dear line of action: Driving south on block 3400 from the main avenue, I motioned to turn right from the right lane. I checked in my rearview mirror to see the traffic behind me slowing down. At the start of the turn, a cyclist passed me in the cycle lane as fast as traffic in the left lane. I never saw it coming! My wish is that you identify the laws and responsibilities should the worst case scenario occur under these circumstances – Ron Pond
Dear Ron: As a cyclist, I would like to stand up for my loved ones. Unfortunately, as a driver, I cannot always in good conscience do this. Some riders (I’m sure no one I know…?) Are not very thoughtful or smart. But before we continue with the answer, let’s clarify one thing:
Whether a cyclist is right or not, as drivers it is our moral obligation to protect them – even from themselves – to the best of our ability. Whoever is at fault in a vehicle-bicycle accident, the cyclist, unfortunately, always loses. Highligths.
Action Line spoke with Ron Wysocki, an officer of the Durango Police Department, to get an overview of the rules of the road.
Once a vehicle is in front of a cyclist, or if it was in front first, the vehicle has right of way. If the vehicle turns right, a cyclist must give way, Wysocki said.
It gets a little tricky when the vehicle is passing a cyclist just before they are about to turn right. Sometimes it takes judgment to assess whether your vehicle can safely pass the rider before the turn.
“It’s basically the driver’s etiquette,” Wysocki said. “Whoever is there first.” “
For more information on this situation and others, see colobikelaw.com or see Revised Colorado Statutes 42-4-1412. He says a cyclist should ride as far to the right as possible unless, A) turns left, B) passes a slower vehicle, or C) avoids a road hazard.
As to who is responsible, I hope this answer is enough. Drivers who play by the rules shouldn’t be held responsible, but those who drive recklessly probably will.
Drivers, be sure to report. And when passing a cyclist, the law says you have to give them 3 feet of space, and it’s okay to cross a double yellow while doing so.
Cyclists, don’t be fools. And – a pet peeve of the line of action – don’t obstruct traffic by riding two or more abreast. It just annoys people and tests their already thin patience.
In this specific case, Wysocki agreed that, if you are a cyclist passing a vehicle that turns right to right, “It’s just a death wish, yeah”.
Send your questions and suggestions by email to email@example.com or by mail to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. This space is intentionally left blank.