Commissioners nix charity bike ride on Deer Creek Canyon Road

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By Nicole Queen

The Jefferson County commissioners have denied a special-event permit for a charity bicycling event Sept. 13 on Deer Creek Canyon Road.

The 2-1 decision on June 30 came after two hearings, the first of which Commissioner Faye Griffin did not attend, and after numerous objections from canyon residents.

Commissioners Kathy Hartman and Griffin voted against issuing a special-event permit, deeming the two-lane road unsafe for the event and citing hostilities between motorists and bicyclists.

“This is my district, so I took it very seriously,” Hartman said. “… I am absolutely convinced that the current situation is not as safe as I would like it to be … and I have seen misbehavior by both bikes and cars. … For those of you who live in the canyon, I understand your concern and frustration.

“I have seen a number of people behaving in ways that I wished I had a sheriff’s badge with me, but I decided that was not an appropriate use of my authority. I get to use my authority to the extent that I have it right here. I am just not convinced that this is a safe event.”

Commissioner Kevin McCasky, who voted to grant the permit, said the event should not be penalized for the already existing tensions between cyclists and motorists. He also believed the event could be staged safely.

The event, coined the Deer Creek Challenge, will be canceled as a result of the commissioners’ decision.

Pat Downing, president of Downing Events, the event management company organizing the Deer Creek Challenge, said Deer Creek Canyon Road was the main hook for the event.

“We are not pursuing any other opportunities to change the course of the event,” Downing said. “If we can’t use Deer Creek, we’re not going to have it. In the long line of summer cycling events, this event was unique because of the (vertical) gain for the cyclists.”

Downing said that while the decision was a disappointment, he was appreciative to Jeffco planning staff, the sheriff’s office and local fire departments, which helped to design a “very safe course.”

“I feel worst of all for the charities …,” Downing said. “Even McCasky said it was a lost opportunity.

“This would have been the safest day of the year for motorists and cyclists to coexist peacefully. There really needs to be increased communication between (canyon) residents and cyclists. It’s unfortunate, because this event could have helped do that.”

The proposed event would have started and ended at the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield and would have included three separate bike rides consisting of a 35-mile, a 64-mile and a 106-mile ride on mountain-area roads from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. None of the rides would have beeen timed, and no roads would have been closed.

Proceeds from the event and registration fees were slated to benefit Colorado nonprofits Brent’s Place, which helps children with cancer and their families, and Family Tree Inc., which helps Denver-area families in crisis.