I was in such a good mood this morning while getting ready for an upcoming trip although my “to do” list has been a force to reckon with for the last few weeks before leaving town. Early this morning I decided to go for a bike ride and clear my head. As I was traveling with traffic on 32nd Avenue, towards Golden, a nice pick-up truck pulled up alongside in the adjacent traffic lane. Gosh, I think I even smiled at the driver because I was in such a silly-good mood. Then suddenly the driver of the pickup truck gunned his engine and sent a plume of exhaust and diesel smoke in my face.
This is a very aggressive act that is used all too many times towards cyclists. Fortunately the driver was soon stuck in traffic as he waited in the line to drop off his daughter at middle school. I remembered that my friend, Charlie, who is involved with Bike Jeffco told me that this is illegal behavior so I took a snap of his license plate, while he was idling in traffic, in order to report this incident to the police.
One rude man is not going to ruin my day but I believe it is important that cyclists know their rights on the road. I have attached part of Bike Jeffco's Memorandum specifically about this type of behavior known as “Rolling Coal” so that you may be informed if this situation ever happens to you. Peace.
Rolling Coal is Prohibited but Cyclists are still Being Blasted
.... “Getting choked out by a blast of black soot isn't very fun…and sadly, living in Fort Collins, this is a somewhat regular occurrence.” These dangerous incidents occurred in spite of the Colorado Revised Statutes 42-4-314 (3) (a) that prohibits tampering with an emissions control device and 42-4-314 (6) (a) that prohibits engaging in a nuisance exhibition of motor vehicle exhaust. This makes rolling coal a Class A Violation.
The dangers associated with rolling coal are not benign. Besides the diesel soot cloud being considered carcinogenic and a possible crisis trigger to asthmatics and others with respiratory disorders, the dark cloud could completely obscure a cyclist’s vision of the road and cause a crash.
Colorado State Patrol recommends reporting the incident just as you would with an aggressive driver incident as indicated below:
Action to Take if Coal Rolled
Call: *277 (CSP) Immediately
Provide the dispatcher the following information: the violation of rolling coal, vehicle description, license plate number, location and direction of travel, driver description, and the aggressive driving behavior being demonstrated. You do not have to have the license plate to report. The aggressive driver should be avoided, not making eye contact or giving any indication of disapproval of their driving behavior.
As drivers become more aware of the law prohibiting rolling coal and cyclists are clear on how to report, we should see a reduction in these dangerous incidents that can feel like an assault.
Bike Jeffco would like to thank the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the Colorado State Patrol for their clarification and review of Action to Take.