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Community.

Holy CRAP, I love the cycling industry. This week I got a reminder as to why.

On Sunday, I had a big training ride pulling P.J. My bike shop hosted, we invited the community and had a group of about 10 of us. It was awesome!

The day didn't go without incident, though. Our group was heading back toward the shop, riding on a 2 lane road and riding single file. I was 2nd in the line of cyclists which included a dad and his 7-year-old daughter on a tandem and P.J. in my trailer.

I look to my left and see a student driver vehicle dangerously close to me. There was an oncoming car in the opposite direction. I look into the passenger seat and see an older gentleman and a terrified-looking driver white knuckling the steering wheel at 10 & 2. I raised my hand to (admittedly) flip him off, but I've been making a habit not to do that. I know better than to get into confrontations with 4,000 pound death weapons. I also like to give thumbs down if needed because it actually feels SO MUCH BETTER. You should try it...

I digress. I raised my hand and motioned to P.J. and said, "This is not how you do this." That's it. Nothing else. The man then proceeded to aggressively bang on the passenger window and yell at me and then hold up 4 fingers. All of this happened in seconds and they were off. 

My boyfriend was on the ride and saw it and wasn't pleased so he chased the vehicle down to get the info we needed to contact this Driver School. He called after the ride and left a message for the owner. The owner had the driver instructor call my boyfriend. The instructor's name is Craig with the Arvada Driving School and Craig wanted to meet with my boyfriend in person to chat about the "incident". My boyfriend refused and had what I believe was a rather frustrating call with a man who said he knew he did something wrong, but never apologized all while being rather combative.

I'm still kind of in shock. It's the closest encounter I've had with a vehicle while out riding ever. What makes the entire situation so much harder is that it wasn't just me on my bike. I had someone elses' child in my care. And 10 other people who were along for the ride. I am so thankful getting screamed at was the worst of this...

I waited to contact the owner of the school because I don't want to be one of those over-the-top rage-y cyclists that just look like nut jobs. I wanted to be thorough in how I approached the situation. So I contacted Megan Hottman, The Cyclist Lawyer, for some advice. I then contacted the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department to report what happened. Unfortunately, the only way I could have done that was if I had had the driver cited. The scared shitless teenage driver who was following the direction of his instructor. I struggled with the thought of that...

This is where the cycling community kicks so much ass. I posted an anecdotal, public Facebook status tagging the Arvada Driving School about it all and it blew up. It was commented on. It was shared. People contacted the school and left reviews all over the interwebs for the school. It wasn't pretty.

After seeing the responses from the owner himself to my cycling community, I have to admit, that I got a little rage-y. He was dismissive. He called the incident a mistake when the reality is that it was illegal. He didn't apologize. He was attempting to placate everyone. Um. No. Unacceptable. 

So, I reached out directly. And this is what I said:


"Ben,

I know that you have been hearing from people in the community regarding Craig and his driver on Sunday and an illegal incident that occurred between them and a group of cyclists.

I was the female cyclist who was on a training ride for a fundraising event and carrying a 32-year-old disabled man who Craig's student got dangerously and illegally close to. I'm the same cyclist that Craig screamed at, banging on the passenger window and holding up 4 fingers towards. That aggressive action was exhibited after I held up a hand and said, "This is not how you do this." as I make it a habit not to get in confrontations with 4,000lb vehicles when I'm on my bike.

The driver looked terrified and young so I'd like to know if the driver is underage and, if so, if his parents were notified of this incident. 

Given that you are a driving school and supposed to be the authority in drivers' education, instructing someone (especially impressionable youngsters) to act illegally while also exhibiting aggressive and unprofessional behavior, I think it's important he be course corrected and properly informed of the 3 foot law. 

I'd also like to know what you are doing to ensure Craig never does this again. I'm sure a slap on the wrist won't be all you do since lives were put in danger. 

I have contacted my lawyer as well as the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department and spoken to them in length about this incident as I'm not taking it lightly and hope that you aren't either.

I'm thankful that neither Craig, your student driver or our group of cyclists was injured during this incident.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Helen"


I couldn't let go of the thought that this man, this instructor, is out there teaching students. That he clearly doesn't know the law because his 4 fingers were to indicate the 4 foot law while at the exact same time, was giving me 4 inches. There is no 4 foot law. It's 3 feet. Furthermore, his complete lack of professionalism and straight aggression towards me in front of a teenager whose parents entrusted to the school was unacceptable. Who is responsible if this teenager becomes a young adult and, not knowing the law, hits and kills a cyclist?

Yesterday evening, I got this response:



"Helen, 
    I am sorry that the incident happened.
    The Driving Instructor involved in Sunday's incident, Craig has resigned his position with Arvada Driving School, effective July 19, 2018.
    I will have the student involved, take an additional lesson, concentrating on sharing the road with cyclists.
    I will also thoroughly review the Colorado law and best protocol for passing cyclists with all of our Instructors.
    The "Road Rage" involved was blown out of proportion.  The Instructor was grabbing the wheel with one hand and putting up his other hand at the same time, showing four fingers, emphasizing that he was giving 4 feet of clearance from the cyclist.
        Arvada Driving  School will continue to offer our fine service of teaching teens safe driving, as we have since 1995.

Thank you,
Ben"


Ben! We were doing SO GOOD until the road rage comment. This is the ultimate #sorrynotsorry response.

Megan has reached out and offered the school her time to come provide some safe cycling classes in response to this. You know, so they know the proper way to pass cyclists on the road.

I have no idea what will come of this because I'm not sure I'm going to let it sit. What I know is that you do NOT F*CK with the cycling community. I'm so appreciative to the people I know (and those I've never met) who didn't let this slide and took it seriously. There is power in banding together....and social media!



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