Boulder County blind right turn acknowledgement (10/2020)
BikesBeSafe and Cyclist 4 Community are working together with Boulder County to properly identify the most dangerous areas on Lee Hill Drive so they can address and budget the work required to make this road as safe as possible for both Bikes and Vehicles. Given the budget limitations of Boulder County we have marked these areas so the county can assess the cost, timeline and obtain public input so this is handled correctly and in an established timeframe that addresses the serious nature of this issue for the safety of the community. This map represents an on-site and drive meeting on Lee Hill Drive we had during the summer of 2020 with the county:
The blind right uphill turns are the most dangerous sections on this road since there is no where for the bikes to safely ride and cars cannot see the bikes until they are right on them. Bikes doing 3 MPH and cars doing 30 MPH, I worry when an accident will occur, if it's me in my car then the possibility of killing someone and ruining their family's life and me losing everything from being sued and living with the guilt is too much to handle. Why won't the county do something about this for the safety of everyone involved?!
The road is too dangerous - a serious or fatal accident with a biker at this point seems to me to be more of an inevitability, rather than a possibility. I'm a biker myself, and I would never ride up or down lee hill or Deer Trail... I'll stick to Lefthand.
I attended a meeting on the addition of the bike lane at the bottom of Lee Hill. At that time, adding a bike lane over Lee Hill was in the 5 year plan. I cringed. Pointed out that downhill lanes were not necessary because of the speed bicyclists travel down hill (having one pass me at 55+)
On the drive up westbound last Friday (before any rain), I counted no less than 15 places where the right shoulder and the white line were fully covered in gravel or rocks. That's 15 places that cyclists are forced out into traffic even if they otherwise are trying to use the miniscule shoulder that exists. And we all know how long it had been since we had appreciable rainfall.
Perhaps more-frequent sweeping of the shoulder would be a reasonable mitigation for the county to provide.
There are signs that say that both Lee Hill and Old Stage are single file for bikes. It doesn’t appear that the cyclists read them or believe them. We need enforcement for safety.
I wish drivers would appreciate the cyclists and be patient! Frequently, going downhill, cyclists can be faster than cars. We love seeing all the cyclists many of whom are world class athletes who compete around the world
I often wonder why cyclists tend to take over the entire downhill lane immediately after passing Deer Trail on their right. Sometimes they are going faster than any cars and sometimes they are not. I find this situation to be extremely dangerous and definitely not one of “sharing the road” by cyclists.
There is an especially dangerous section of Lee Hill on the downhill lane (EB) at approximately the 4.2 mile marker. Within a span of 2 weeks last month there were two cyclist crashes at the exact location requiring emergency aide. The scary part was the downhill riders both times lost control on road debris and or broken pavement and skidded across both lanes and crashed into the ditch of the up hill lane. The second incident actually took out a cyclist traveling up Lee Hill in the west bound uphill lane. It was sheer good fortune for all riders that a car traveling in the uphill lane didn’t hit either rider given the amount of speeding that occurs on Lee Hill on any given day.
More frequent sweeping would be a huge improvement for safety between cars and bikes. Sand and gravel both from winter traction and from runoff create choke points where bikes are forced out into the car lane, often when cars do not expect it.
I was drive from Lefthand Canyon, turned onto Lee Hill, a tight windy corner, just pass the cyclists singe file sign, two cyclists riding side by side, over half way into the lane, didn't even move over into single file until I gave them the courtesy toot, they moved over. On Lee Hill Dr. this is one of the most dangerous, narrow, curvy segments of the road. We all need to obey the rules for safety all.
Sharp twisty turns on steep, narrow roads with bicyclists sharing your lane - just on the other side of each turn is a recipe for death. If I get close to the side of my lane like I should when driving on these roads, I would run over bicyclists daily. I'd rather be hit by an oncoming car cliffside; those are currently my two choices. The bicyclists are riding like they should be per the law, however given the current markings (see above) it causes multiple near-death experiences daily. Luckily I am an excellent driver and I have never been in an accident or experienced fear when driving (just moved here; I have lived in mountains before but without bicyclists). There are at least 20 bicyclists I pass each on my commute; every one of them are dressed in top gear and following their rules and going close to the speed of cars if not matching us. I have seen people pass bicyclists and oncoming traffic have to slam on their breaks too many times to count. There are no guard rails on most of the roads and no place for the bicyclists to go except fall off a cliff after being hit in most parts. If you think I'm kidding, drive it. I am 15 minutes from Boulder central; not in the boondocks. These are top bicyclists from all over the world. These are also people like my fiance who is an avid rider and I have cried every time he wants to go for a ride; he hasn't gone yet after months of living here. He is a community leader, leading business and meditation groups as well as teams successful startup, and I can't let him go for a bicycle ride here. Boulder is supposed to be "The mecca" however with all due respect, the rules of your roads here currently match the "backwards" and all-too-cavalier-about-life attitude of Northern Ireland and West Virginia; when I see lives at stake daily in my own neighborhood daily something's got to be said. If you want residents to not die or bring bad publicity to "the mecca", then please add lanes for the bicyclists.
I have lived above Lee Hill Drive on Deer Trail Road for over 44 years. During this time, bike traffic has increased from an occasional bike encountered to dozens of daily encounters. While may cyclists are safe and courteous, those who aren't endanger lives and cause frustration. Two examples: On countless occasions I have had cyclists descend Lee Hill literally riding on my back bumper. Besides the obvious distraction, it would take only one deer, fawn, turkey or squirrel (all of which have stepped out in front of me at various times) to cause me to hit the brakes without warning. The cyclist would be dead and I would be traumatized (not to mention the effect on the animal) for the rest of my life. Those who travel Lee Hill know that turnouts are few and far between, so quickly getting off the road to let the cyclist pass is a limited option. There is a sign posted at the intersection of Lee Hill and Deer Trail clearly asking cyclists to gather in that particular spot. Last summer, I descended Deer Trail Road, intending to make a right turn onto Lee Hill. A group of three female cyclists was parked/paused in the lane I planned to turn into. I stopped, certain they would move, but they ignored me and continued to talk. That left me with the choice of turning into the lane which could potentially contain uphill, oncoming traffic or waiting.
Happy that there are now climbing lanes at the bottom of Lee Hill BUT still so many cyclists continue to ride 2 or 3 (or more) abreast. I would support more shoulder room for cyclists ONLY IF they learn to obey the laws that are clearly posted.
Cyclists need to learn to obey the laws about riding single file before I would support any more funds being spent to keep them safe.
On many occasions cyclists wil stop at the intersection of Lee Hill Dr and Deer Trail Rd in such a manner as to block traffic making a right turn onto Lee Hill from Deer Trail even though there are signs indicating a place for gathering. Today (10/13/2020) a cyclist was stopped at that corner into the roadway so that to get around him I would have to go into the oncoming lane. I politely asked him to move inward to make the turn easier for all traffic. That resulted in a flurry of F-bombs directed at me and telling me that if I did not own such a big F-in truck he would not need to move. Maybe it's Covid or maybe it is just entitlement that causes this behavior but it is not unique. A while ago, 4 young women were parked at the intersection of Old Stage and Lee Hill on the downhill right corner (southwest) forcing drivers to swing way over into the uphill lane of Lee Hill. Asking them to move a little resulted in a flock of "birds", which seem to be proliferating now a days. In addition, not a safety problem per se, for people living at the top of Deer Trail where the road turns to dirt, cyclists have been using residents yards as a place to go to the bathroom. Toilet paper and, in some cases, feces are being found in large amounts. I suggest that the County consider putting up signs at intersections telling cyclists to not stop and block the road. There are some signs present but they must not be visible to the cyclists. Maybe making areas where they can gather with very prominent signage would help.
Enforce the speed limit first before you change the mountain to accommodate the speeding.
I live near the intersection of Lee Hill and Olde Stage, and pick up my mail at what is a STOP sign on the downhill lane of Olde Stage. On average I'd say less than 50% of cars and less than 10% of cyclists stop. An accident at this location is just a matter of time - the results of a cyclist flying down Olde Stage at 40+ mph hitting a car coming down Lee Hill, or a car turning left to head up Lee Hill, would be rather graphic! I must admit, the traffic flow here is a little confusing - County could do a better job with signage before and at the stop and on the road.
Lee Hill / Olde Stage intersection is an accident waiting to happen
I must say that cars are definitely driving way above the speed limit 90% of the time. A cyclist definitely can outpace a car downhill due to increased maneuverability. In Europe, there is more respect for the cyclist (and groups of). Cars are patient and go around when it is safe. There is so little shoulder going uphill on Lee Hill; there really is no where to go for a cyclist if a car wants to pass and another is flying downhill. Many times LH Road is taken as a quicker drive to Lefthand. Any way to mitigate driver speed? And fair to say there are bikes that fly downhill. I say it is their responsibility to ride safe. Europe does the same. It is unfortunate out society is so litigious...
Patience is key
I haven't had any incidents, but several close calls as a cyclist. I also drive the road occasionally. There are several uphill right turns where the shoulder disappears and cyclists have no choice but to move into the lane. With limited sight distance that's very scary for all involved. If there is oncoming/downhill traffic (either car or another cyclist) then ... disaster. Widening the shoulder, at least on the inside uphill lane, seems like the most obvious solution. If that's not in the cards in the short term, perhaps some signage would help. The signs could remind/warn both cyclists and drivers that bikes might be in the lane. I also think there should be signs on the downhills that bikes are allowed to take the lane. There are several places around Boulder with signs like that but I don't believe there are any outside the city.
Widening the shoulder, at least on the inside uphill lane, seems like the most obvious solution. If that's not in the cards in the short term, perhaps some signage would help. The signs could remind/warn both cyclists and drivers that bikes might be in the lane. I also think there should be signs on the downhills that bikes are allowed to take the lane. There are several places around Boulder with signs like that but I don't believe there are any outside the city.
I strongly support the proposed plan in the feasibility study to widen areas for the blind right hand turns. More frequent sweeping would improve safety for both bikes and cars. Education and enforcement of traffic laws and signs of both cyclists and cars is important to improve safety for all.
I ride Lee Hill Drive often. I wish the County would do something about the blind spots. Very dangerous!
JA (Bike rider)
This is an issue that also impacts other areas of Boulder County, here's a recent incident (approx 5/1/21 on Four Mile Canyon Drive:
Lower Four mile has a LOT of bike traffic, mixed with tight blind turns and people carrying the same speed they were at when turned off Canyon onto Fourmile. No visibility, very tight road with no shoulder, and no way to create a wider road much less a bike lane. I heard someone get hit by a van 2 weeks ago in front of my house by a driver, only to get to a window in time to see that the driver speed up after hitting the cyclist; no time to get a make/model/plate. I'm surprised I haven't seen or heard that more often since there are plenty of runners on the road as well.
AD (Four Mile Canyon Road resident)
As a driver, I am in a state of continuous terror that I’ll hit a cyclist while I am driving up any of those canyons and mountain roads. I cannot imagine why anyone would risk riding a bike in such places. I admire their super human strength and stamina though! So I drive at turtle speed in all those places particularly around those curves. Please be patient when you see me trundling along in my car at the speed of a snail.
I live near the bottom of Lee Hill and I frequently drive and bike Lee Hill and Olde Stage. As a cyclist, I nearly always avoid biking westbound up Lee Hill due to the narrow road and blind turns on steep sections where I would be have hardly any speed. One of the rare times I did cycle westbound up Lee Hill, I had a close call where a motorist traveling eastbound down one of the straight sections decided to pass a cyclist traveling a similar speed. This meant the motorist was traveling towards me head-on in my lane passing within 3 feet of me. My observation has been that vehicles (and often bikes going downhill) travel much faster than the posted 35mph speed limit on the straighter sections of Lee Hill (both up and downhill). Traveling up Olde Stage towards Lefthand is (I feel) safer due to fewer blind turns. However, the road is still very narrow and the grit/sand near the edge makes it so that cyclists can not move as far over to the right when vehicles are coming (I feel this frustrates motorists who may not realize danger the grit/sand poses to cyclists). At the top of Olde Stage by Red Hill Road, I've had to tell other cyclists not to stop on the edge of the road multiple times. There are several places to get completely off the road, but I've been frustrated to see other bikers standing on or over the white line rather than getting completely out of the way. I feel like this is not only dangerous for the cyclist standing on the road to potentially get hit, but I think it increases the danger to every other cyclist on the road by causing increased frustration and reduced patience for the motorist who have to drive around them. I agree with some of the other comments that more signage indicating that a bike may use the full lane may be helpful. As someone who drives up both these roads, I understand it can be annoying to be stuck behind a slower bike going uphill. However, having a bike hugging the line as far to the right as possible is not always the safest solution. This can cause a vehicle to try to squeeze by the bike on a blind turn, and if there is a car coming the opposite direction, would cause either a head-on collision between the two cars or, more likely, cause the passing car to turn back in to their own lane and hit the bike/run them off the road. I'm glad to see investigation is being done on how to make these sections of road better for all users. I understand it can be easy for these types of conversations to degrade to cyclists pointing the finger at motorists for breaking the law by passing too closely, speeding, etc. And for motorists to point the finger at cyclists for breaking the law by not following the posted signs of biking single file, not completely stopping at stop signs, etc. But I hope the outcome of this is a better and safer road for all users. No matter how we are using the road, let's all try to be a little patient and courteous to everyone out on the road.
Lee Hill has become more dangerous due to runoff eroding the shoulder. When will the county fill the shoulder? There is currently a dropoff of up to 10" immediately adjacent to the pavement surface. This makes any slight error by a cyclist attempting to courteously share the road (by cycling on the line) potentially very dangerous.
Beautiful commute back home to Gold Hill on my bike although increased traffic has made it a bit more unsettling. Would love to see these blind spots improved. I also drive it regularly and giving cyclist a bit more room will make it a more enjoyable and a safer drive as well.
I ride Lee Hill multiple times a week, and hearing about a cyclist being struck and killed in the exact route I take is absolutely terrifying. How many more cyclists need to die before we take real action to make roads safe for all users? How many more roads do I need to add to my “dont ride” list?
Boulder County Officials. It is your responsibility to make our roads safer. When Lee Hill was repaved a couple of years ago, we residents believed that the entire road would be widened to make it safer for cyclists. This did not happen. The short stretch from Lee Hill/Olde Stage was not enough. There must be a priority to widen the shoulder, even if by a foot or two. Cars are speeding insanely. Not only do residents use Lee Hill (and Olde Stage) but through traffic has increased for cars going up to Ward & Peak to Peak highway. Many are from out of state. Cars/Trucks are passing drivers on blind turns and double yellows. I have had instances of coming around a blind turn and almost being in a head on collision with a car passing illegally. It is time for action on Lee Hill to stop the speeders. They are dangerous and for what? To get down the hill possibly one to two minutes faster than if going the speed limit? Put in cameras. Then mail out the speeding ticket. We pay taxes. High taxes in Boulder County and the money should be prioritized now to make the roads safer. The weather is perfect for this right now. Additionally, there must be a change to the Stop Sign at Olde Stage and Lee Hill. Most cars do not stop and speed through it. I see a sheriff posted nearby occasionally. There should be a STOP LIGHT here at a minimum and I would suggest a camera to photo the license plate.
"Make Lee Hill safe. NOW"
I echo that what many other cyclists are saying here, but would also like to add something else. A lot of the scares with cars that I have happen when descending these roads. I am a cyclist who obeys road rules, including always staying far in the shoulder — apart from during brief periods while descending. Many cars on Lefthand, Lee Hill and Olde Stage don’t realize that us cyclists are fully within our right to come out into the lane when descending through corners. If you’re descending 35 mph, the safest thing to do is to come out into the corner through the apex of the turn and there are signs on Lefthand indicating that this is permissible (“cyclists may use full lane”). I ALWAYS look over my shoulder before going out into the lane and obviously don’t go if there’s a car there, and go right back to right when I’m through the turn. However even so, I’ve been honked at and yelled at for being in the apex of a corner when a car comes screeching by going way over the speed limit (the speed limit that I’m likely following if I’m descending.) The other terrifying thing that happens is cars will come up and sit on my wheel at way too close of a distance. I’m fully aware that if I were to crash I’d be run over. Cars, please follow at a safe distance. If a cyclist crashes while descending, you shouldn’t be so close that you would hit them. Sharing the road with cyclists in a safe way is not a courtesy — it is a matter of life or death for us.