I’ve been looking at statistics from my files regarding motorcycle accidents in and around Denver and, if my records are any indication, the city of Aurora experiences the second-most motorcycle accidents in our region, after Denver.
Of course, population and density play a heavy factor in making Denver the number-one city for motorcycle accidents, but why would Aurora be second? When I think of Aurora, I think of expansive neighborhoods, suburban cul-de-sacs with kids riding bikes, those long prairie-scapes at the eastern edge of our booming population, and thriving shopping districts.
But then I pulled out a map and the first thing that jumped out at me was the fact that Aurora has a lot of Colorado’s biggest roads running right through it. Interstate 225, Interstate 70 and E470 are large, high-volume roads that foster high speeds and cataclysmic crashes. Then there’s the next level of roads, like Arapahoe Road, Parker Road, 6th Avenue, Mississippi, Colfax and Alameda, which in some areas can be huge, 8-lane roads, intersecting neighborhoods and even shopping districts.
Those types of roads, with myriad shopping center cut-outs, turning lanes, lights, stop signs and alleyways, create what motorcyclists call “traps,” and they are dangerous.
“Those types of roads, with myriad shopping center cut-outs, turning lanes, lights, stop signs and alleyways, create what motorcyclists call “traps,” and they are dangerous.”
What Are Motorcycle Traps?
I recently took a motorcycle class from the Motorcycle Training Academy in Aurora, where I earned my motorcycle endorsement. (Yay!) And I learned about this concept of “motorcycle traps.” When you’re on a motorcycle, you must constantly be on the lookout for sideroads that are hidden, construction zones, lanes that narrow down from three-to-two or two-to-one lane, and other hazards. These are called traps because they trap the motorcyclist or his/her bike and can end up in a crash.
Another common motorcycle trap is called the Edge Trap. The website RideApart describes an edge trap like this:
“…an uneven piece of whatever terrain you’re rolling over that can “trap” your front wheel on its edge. It can take that wheel (and the whole bike) right out from under you. Edge traps come in the form of pavement layers, railroad tracks, curbs, roots, holes; you get the idea. An edge trap is a hole or a rise that runs parallel to your path of travel. The front wheel falls into or up against that trap, and that makes it impossible to steer. If the bike has any momentum toward the trap your center of gravity will continue to travel in that direction while the wheels of the motorcycle do not. Sometimes these edge traps are not super visible when it’s dark or they’re hidden by traffic. Sometimes you’re forced into them by some surrounding vehicle.”
RideApart even has a video describing such traps, including a gut-wrenching shot of a biker going down due to an edge trap. The video goes on to describe ways to avoid the perils of edge traps; I highly recommend it.
So, when you think about all those factors – high-volume, busy roads combined with a growing population and increased construction – it starts to make sense that Aurora sees a high number of motorcycle accidents.
Motorcycle Riding in Aurora
Also, I would guess that Aurora is home to people who like their “toys,” like boats (hello Cherry Creek Reservoir and Aurora Reservoir), campers and motorcycles. So perhaps there are also more motorcycle riders in Aurora.
Photo by Ken Lund on Flickr.
City Folk May Not Navigate Aurora Roads Well
I am, admittedly, a city dweller. I live in the heart of Denver and I understand Denver’s roads like a bee knows how to find its way back to the hive. But get me out in Aurora, and I find that I have to concentrate a lot harder to figure out turn lanes, exit ramps and overpasses, all while maintaining pretty high speeds, compared to our 30 mph average in Denver.
I often drive on Parker Road, headed south through Aurora, and that 225 intersection with the right-hand loop and the bridge overpass and the left-hand turn lanes to 225 north… well, it’s a LOT to navigate for us city folk! Because I’m a Denver personal injury attorney, I am obviously hyper-vigilant and I am constantly checking for bikers (Look Twice, Save a Life is a true statement). So, those kinds of high-volume, complex intersections make me a bit cautious.
As we all know, not everyone is a cautious driver! So, when city folk get excited about a 45 mph, four-lane road, they sometimes open it up, speeding up to 60 mph or higher, not looking for motorcyclists turning left in front of them, or coming out from a shopping center cut-out. In my estimation, that’s where the issues arrive.
Making matters worse, sometimes the power goes out to the lights at those humongous intersections in Aurora. That’s what happened to a client I’m currently representing. The lights were flashing red after a power outage and, in following the law, everyone was supposed to stop at the intersection and take turns driving through. My client was on a motorcycle, taking a left-hand turn across four lanes of traffic, and an oncoming car didn’t stop at the flashing red. The driver just blew through the intersection and nailed my client on the motorcycle. As you can imagine, his injuries are extensive
Rider Justice Helps Injured Motorcyclists in Aurora
When Driving or Riding a Motorcycle in Aurora
Here are some tips for car drivers and motorcycle riders when traveling on Aurora’s roads:
- Watch for sidewalk cutouts where people may be emerging from parking lots onto your road (sometimes right in front of you).
- Note edge traps, such as uneven pavement, railroad tracks and holes. If you’re driving a car and you notice an edge trap, make sure there aren’t any bikers around you. You don’t want to accidentally force a biker into a trap.
- If you’re driving and there is a biker near you, give him/her plenty of space.
- Drivers: Look twice. Every time. You would not believe how small a blind spot has to be to hide a biker.
- Bikers: Don’t speed or split lanes. It is currently illegal in Colorado and It just further confuses drivers who already have a lot to consider when trying to keep you safe.
These tips apply everywhere on every road, of course, but my data search this week led me to think that people in Aurora need to take extra precautions to protect motorcyclists.
Questions or comments? I’d love to hear from you! Call me at (303) 865-3934.