A recent bike accident on Highway 340 has prompted area bike riders to speak out about safety concerns. On October 12th, 58-year-old cyclist Terry Brown was hit by a car while biking on the highway. The driver of the car, 82-year-old Joseph East, is not believed to have been under the influence of alcohol or speeding at the time of the crash. The Grand Junction cyclist was hit near Wedding Canyon on a small incline that is considered a potential blind spot for drivers.
Brown’s injuries were serious enough to warrant a stay in St. Mary’s Hospital’s ICU, and local riders say they weren’t surprised this happened.
According to Grand Valley cyclist Kristina Kittelson, drivers on the 340 have gotten more aggressive, and some cyclists have quit riding the same section Brown was hit on for this very reason. As part of the iconic Colorado National Monument Loop, Highway 340 is an incredibly popular biking route because of the scenery and landmark, but there is no shoulder on the road for nine-tenths of a mile.
Back in 2013, local cyclist John Hodge petitioned the Colorado Department of Transportation to request that a bike lane be added to the road. Despite getting more than 500 signatures at the time, Hodge says the CDOT did not seem interested in his request, and he was told that the funds that could have been used for that had already been given to the Horizon Drive Project instead. Hodge had actually been warned by other cyclists about the loop when he first moved to Grand Junction about 20 years ago.
As reported by KKCO11 News, Tracy Trulove from the CDOT has responded to the 340 bike shoulder issue, saying it’s more than just a reconstruction project. According to Trulove, there could be legal issues with the land, especially if the parts needed for the shoulder or work area are not owned by the state. She did go on to say that the state is working on the issue, and there have been no other cyclist accidents on the 340 reported in the last decade.
Local cyclists responded to Trulove’s accident claims, saying that many of them have had close encounters with cars on the 340 but have been lucky. Grand Junction’s The Daily Sentinel also spoke with Monument Loop cyclist Bonnie Wixom, who spoke of being “buzzed” by three cars in just the last week. Wixom said the cars whizzing so close by as she rides are “scary” and that she rides the loop about two times each week.
Cyclist Scott Mercier is currently speaking with state representative Yuelin Willett, who is a cyclist himself, about the dangers 340 poses to local biker riders.