Editor’s Note: In 2024, Boulder County, Colorado plans to construct a shared use pathway from Boulder to Longmont. The path will connect Longmont, Niwot, Gunbarrel and the City of Boulder. Colorado Bike Law Attorney Brad Tucker analyzes the project below.
Seventeen-year-old Magnus White was a Junior US cyclocross national champion, competed in the Cyclocross World Championships in 2022, and was training for the Road World Championships this past summer. He was recognized as one of the future US talents in the sport. A former Boulder Junior Cycling Team member, big things were expected of Magnus, and he certainly expected big things of himself. He was diligently putting in the hard training sessions required to reach the top level of the sport.
Magnus was killed by a driver in Boulder this past summer when the driver veered off Diagonal Highway and into the shoulder at 55 miles per hour, striking Magnus from behind. The driver was arrested for vehicular homicide nearly half a year later. Police believe she fell asleep at the wheel, although her phone records show that she was texting just minutes before the crash. There is no amount of jail time that will give Magnus’ family the justice they deserve.
A 12-Foot-Wide Shoulder on Diagonal Highway Did Not Stop the Driver From Killing Magnus White
The stretch of road on which Magnus was killed was Colorado Highway 119, commonly referred to as Diagonal Highway, which connects Boulder to Longmont. It is a heavily used road by cyclists, as it serves as one of the only connectors between Boulder and the quieter, rural farm roads north of town. While the speed limit ranges between 60 and 55 miles per hour, the shoulder on Diagonal Highway is as wide as the car travel lanes: over 10 feet wide. It is almost difficult to imagine a driver managing to hit a cyclist in the shoulder of Diagonal, as the highway is straight and the view wide-open. Yet, clearly it is possible, and judging by the skid marks on Diagonal’s shoulder, drivers somehow lose control of their vehicles seemingly all the time. Distracted driving and fatigued driving account for a vast portion of traffic violence, and now there is one fewer cyclist among us because of one driver’s appalling choices.
Construction of the Diagonal Highway Off-Street Bike Path is Set to Begin in 2024
While it is very easy to become disheartened with our society’s view towards cyclists and the complete disregard for human life that so many drivers develop the second they get behind the wheel of a car, there are glimmers of hope. An off-street bike path sandwiched between the north- and south-bound lanes of Diagonal Highway is in the works.
Diagonal Highway has two lanes of travel going either direction. Currently, a large grass median (many dozens of feet wide) divides these north- and south-bound lanes, providing ample space for a bike path down the center. The proposed nine-mile-long concrete path, connecting Boulder and Longmont, will be 12 feet wide in most sections, and will travel underneath many of the existing cross streets that bisect Diagonal Highway, improving bike commute time and reducing chances of bike versus car collisions at these intersections. Other crossings will make use of pedestrian push-button signals.
Other Features of the Diagonal Highway Project
In addition, the project will incorporate a new Bus Rapid Transit line along the route, with the goal of reducing single occupancy vehicle traffic from Boulder to Longmont. Blue line buses will arrive every 15 minutes, and Orange line buses every 30 minutes. This bus line will have its own travel lane along certain sections of Diagonal in order to bypass congested traffic. Lastly, various intersections along Diagonal will be modified to reduce the risk of crashes and decrease car travel time from Boulder to Longmont. Construction is set to begin in the last half of 2024.
Read the full article on the Cycling West website by clicking here.