'Spandex causes people to lose sense of humor


May 21, 2007
On the losing end of a wishbone
Larimer sheriff: 'Spandex causes people to lose sense of humor'
Alderden says responses back stance on cyclists, 2 to 1

Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden is standing by a column he penned last week in which he singled out Boulder cyclists as leading to an increasing number of conflicts between motorists and riders in his jurisdiction.

In his "Bull's Eye" column, posted on the sheriff's Web site, Alderden said many cyclists "cop an attitude when stopped," and that "many of the cyclists with attitudes are part of the Boulder cycling community."

The column went on to say that Larimer County sheriff's deputies have been ordered to step up their enforcement of the state's laws on single-file riding and other cycling laws.

The piece has since led to a deluge of e-mails, phone calls and letters to the Sheriff’s Office, and a spokeswoman said the responses are 2-to-1 “in favor of the sheriff’s stance.” Alderden said Wednesday that he stands behind his opinion.

“That’s not to say there aren’t cyclists in Larimer County who don’t have attitudes,” Alderden said.

The sheriff said he brought up real problems in his column and he addressed the need to treat riders and motorists equally.

“The intent of the message was to clarify the statute,” Alderden said. “The issues have been primarily in the south half of the county with people coming out of Boulder County.”

Alderden pointed out that a group of Boulder cyclists brought up the issue in the first place. He said the cyclists were complaining about a Larimer deputy who allegedly told them, “Don’t let the sun set on your behind in my county,” and to go back to Boulder or face getting a ticket.

“I think they distorted what the deputy told them,” Alderden said. “That certainly wasn’t the message.”

In addition to receiving complaints and angry letters, Alderden said a recent act of vandalism to his personal property might also be connected.

A horse trailer owned by Alderden was “scratched and gouged” over the weekend when he left it parked at the Bobcat Ridge trailhead. Whether any riders were connected to the vandalism of the Sheriff’s Office logo on the trailer, Alderden isn’t sure.

“I hope that wasn’t the case, but you never know.”

Last fall, Alderden wrote in his column that Fort Collins is “becoming more like the imbecilic borough of Boulder than many would like to admit.”

Alderden said he generally tries to write with a humorous slant, which some people take too seriously.

“It must be the Spandex that causes people to lose their sense of humor,” Alderden said.

Donald Cicchillo, president and founder of the Boulder Cycling Club, said he and many other riders are upset with the sheriff.

The longtime rider said there is a small percentage of riders who cause problems on the road.

“You can’t say 100 percent of all the cyclists are doing everything right, but in my experience, 98 percent are obeying all the rules and it’s the other people who stand out,” he said.

How people responded in their own words

Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden has received dozens of phone calls and e-mails about a column he wrote last week about Boulder cyclists purportedly causing problems in the neighboring county. The following are excerpts from a sampling of messages Alderden has received in recent days. The Sheriff's Office declined to provide the names of the authors.

"I find it amusing and a bit shocking that the County Sheriff Jim Alderden would openly bash a group of people."

"Thank you so much for addressing this, sheriff. I live on a county road and the problem with the cyclists has gotten exponentially worse over the last three years. Saturday and Sunday mornings are so bad that I make a real effort to stay in until most of them are off of the roads. There is a lot of resentment from the residents toward them because of all of this. I appreciate your efforts to address this and hopefully it will get better soon."

"Your provincial attitude is simply counterproductive to law enforcement. You're not doing your job, you're doing Rush Limbaugh's."

"Nearly all cyclists are also motorists and should be thankful for law enforcement that defends the rights of both on an even-handed basis."

"After reading your entire comments in the newsletter, I think they were, overall, fair and kind of funny. I like your sense of humor."

"I read your ignorant diatribe on your bull's eye forum. ... It's simply amazing that you are an elected official and are allowed to spew such hate, ignorance and narrow mindedness on the public's dime. Apparently the hiring standards in Larimer County only require a sixth-grade education and the ability to find the nearest donut shop."

"I'm sure you are receiving e-mails about your Boulder comments. I want you to know I am a Boulder resident (and native) and totally support what you said. Bicyclists here have long been an issue and what I consider the 'new Boulderite' attitude is equally grating. I think it's great that you are willing to speak out."

Source: Larimer County Sheriff's Office


makes avatars better
Dec 25, 2003
Six Shooter Junction
Not sure what the big deal is???

Cyclists and Dodge City
By Sheriff Jim Alderden

Don’t you just love this time of year, when the birds, boats and cyclists come out? Well, two out of three ain’t bad.

Tis the time of year for countless walking, running and cycling events that positively or negatively affect each of us. Then there’s the inevitable conflict between the motorists and cyclists using roads that are in disrepair and aren’t fit for either. The Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies are tasked with keeping the peace and enforcing the laws. The end result is that nobody is happy with us.

First, let me address the numerous events that impact traffic flow and raise the ire of the affected neighborhoods. All of these events require a permit. There are several stages of review. Many of these cross jurisdictional lines and require approval from the municipalities that they traverse, the county and the state. In the case of the county permits, they are NOT issued by the Sheriff’s Office but from the Commissioners. In addition to the Sheriff’s Office reviewing the plans for the events, the Health Department, Road and Bridge, Parks Department, Engineering and the appropriate ambulance, hospital and fire departments all review the plans and either approve or impose conditions. In the case of the Sheriff’s Office, we REQUIRE notification of affected residents, a traffic plan, certified traffic control personnel at key intersections, and volunteers at other locations. If the event is a race, we require either full or rolling road closures. Again, we are charged with making the event as safe as possible, but can’t deny a permit just because it inconveniences people. That’s a balancing act for the County Commissioners.

The Sheriff’s Office no longer assigns personnel to these events except in the most extreme circumstances due to staffing shortages, other high priority events that dictate deputies be assigned to work overtime, and the liability associated with these events. When we do, the event must pay the costs associated with the services provided. I don’t remember the last time we assisted with one of these due to the volume of other off-duty work where the services of a sworn deputy are needed. (As an aside, to the person who groused on the Reporter Herald RH line about the Sheriff’s Office escorting a group of cyclists on Glade Road on Saturday, May 10, the Sheriff’s Office was NOT involved in this event and we definitely did NOT have a car escorting the cyclists either on duty or on overtime. This event was a collegiate event hosted by Colorado State University, so I suspect that the lead car may have been a CSUPD car.)

Second, let me address the issue of cyclists in general and our enforcement practice. I’ve recently received a deluge of e-mails from the cycling community of Boulder after a group of them encountered a deputy who gave then the “don’t let the sun set on your behind in my county” speech or something akin to that. What the rider claimed was that the deputy offered the option of either returning to Boulder County or receiving a ticket for the alleged violation (more on that in a moment). That may be what they heard, but the deputy is adamant that isn’t exactly what was said. Apparently there was some dialogue (argument) about the interpretation of the applicable statute and the cyclists were advised that we were going to enforce the law regarding impeding the traffic flow in our county. The deputy continued by stating that perhaps they should return to Boulder County where they indicated they could ride two abreast, or be cited if they continued to do so here. It really wasn’t a “get out of Dodge” ultimatum but “if you stay in Dodge, be prepared to follow the rules or suffer the consequences.” Perhaps he could have been more tactful, but anytime you get to even suggest something to deal with Dodge City, its okay in my book.

Actually, we have a bonus point system when ticketing individuals from Boulder. So far, the deputy in question has won a toaster oven and is close to earning a rod and reel combination. (Just kidding!)

Now to the real issue and the reason for the contact in the first place. We have been receiving complaints about cyclists hogging the road in the southern part of the county so we have stepped up our presence. Not surprisingly, many of these cyclists cop an attitude when stopped. Also not surprising, many of the cyclists with attitudes are part of the Boulder cycling community. Now, I’ve had some fun making fun of Boulder in the past (all warranted by the way) and some will say this is just another attempt to bash Boulder, but this is what has been reported to me. Many have taken to not carrying identification, so when asked to identify themselves for purposes of determining if there are any outstanding warrants (which we always check), it isn’t unreasonable to determine their county of residence. (Another warning – When issuing a citation for a violation, if we can’t verify the identification of the cyclist, they WILL be taken to jail pending identification and their bicycles impounded. This isn’t a threat. Its the way we operate.)

The dispute is over interpretation of C.R.S. 42-4-1412(5): “Any person riding a bicycle shall ride in the right hand lane. When being overtaken by another vehicle, such person shall ride as close to the right-hand side as practicable. Where a paved shoulder suitable for bicycle riding is present, persons operating bicycles shall ride on the paved shoulder….” Also at issue section (6)(a) “Persons operating bicycles on roadways shall ride single file: except that riding no more than two abreast is permitted in the following circumstances: (I) When riding two abreast will not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic…” Many feel that they can ride two abreast as long as vehicle approaching from the rear can get around them, even if the motorist has to go into the oncoming lane of traffic. Our reading of the statute doesn’t require that traffic actually be impeded, only that it the cyclists riding two abreast would impede the normal flow of traffic if vehicles had to swerve into the oncoming lane, especially when there is a double yellow line as is the case in many of the winding roads favored by the cyclists. Further, section 6 doesn’t negate the requirement of section 5 to ride on the paved shoulder or as far to the right as feasible when being overtaken. While riding two abreast, one of the pair isn’t as far to the right as possible. When being overtaken, in order to get as far to the right as possible, they must ride single file if there is only one lane in that direction. If there is a paved shoulder, they should be riding on the shoulder, not in the traffic lane, regardless of whether or not they are impeding traffic.

The arguments offered by the cyclists are similar to those made by many motorists when blowing stop signs. “There were no other cars coming, so why should I have to stop?” - “They could still get around us, so what difference does it make?”

I believe in minimal enforcement to achieve the desired result. Our deputies have been giving verbal warnings, as was done to the Boulder cyclists. The warnings haven’t been heeded. I don’t expect my deputies to have to debate the point any further. We will begin issuing tickets for these violations, whether the offender lives in Larimer County, Boulder, or Dodge City.

To the motoring public, this does not mean its open season on cyclists. We also have received some complaints about motorists throwing objects at cyclists or harassing them. We will be equally aggressive in defending the rights of the cyclists to share the road as long as done legally and responsibly.


Press Button, Receive Stupid
Nov 10, 2005
media blackout
Not sure what the big deal is???
Yea me either. I guess a bunch of people just have their panties in a bundle.

Overall, I have noticed more and more conflicting arguments between road cyclists and motorists. In my eyes, attitudes need to change from both parties. Neither group is exactly in the right or wrong from what I can gather. I just think there needs to be an overall increase in mutual respect.
Around here I have been encountering an increasing number of knotheads who ride two or more abreast irrespective of whether there's overtaking traffic. I have really had the urge to lay on the horn, but haven't, because it would be just as stupid as their behavior.