Deer Creek Canyon residents object to bicycle ride fund-raiser

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By The Staff

Residents along Deer Creek Canyon Road are opposed to a bicycle ride to benefit two local charities, saying the event will attract even more cyclists to an already busy and dangerous stretch of two-lane pavement.

The ride, which would start and end at the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield, would use a portion of Deer Creek Canyon Road for the Sept. 13 fund-raiser. The event would raise money for Brent's Place, a nonprofit that supports child cancer victims and their families, and The Family Tree, a nonprofit that helps victims of child abuse, domestic violence and homelessness.

County planning and zoning staff have recommended that the county commissioners approve the application for a special use permit, and the county commissioners have scheduled a vote at 1:30 p.m. June 30.

But County Commissioners Kevin McCasky and Kathy Hartman got an earful from canyon residents June 16 during a public hearing.

"Why do you have to use the canyon and bring more people into that area?" asked Christina Mann, who lives near Deer Creek Canyon Road. "I'm concerned in terms of safety more than driving, but people are getting more and more and more angry, and I'm concerned that people are going to try to take matters into their own hands."

Mann and other area residents say cyclists inundate the Deer Creek Canyon area on weekends, making driving unsafe. They say the cyclists are rude and combative, and often throw water bottles at motorists or display rude hand gestures. One man told the commissioners he recently saw a cyclist urinate in his yard.

Pat Downing of Littleton owns and operates Downing Events, which wants to put on the cycling fund-raiser. Downing’s company specializes in fund-raising for nonprofits, and he says Deer Creek Canyon Road is well-known among cyclists and using it will boost turnout.

"Deer Creek Canyon is easily recognizable to the cycling community," Downing said June 16.

He said the event would consits of three separate rides: a 35-mile ride, a 64-mile ride and a 106-mile ride. Each would use a portion of Deer Creek Canyon Road between 6 a.m. and 1 p.m. Sept. 13.

Downing said he'll hire several Jeffco sheriff's deputies to help regulate traffic and will stagger the start times so bunches of cyclists aren’t moving up or down the canyon at the same time.

Downing's promises to regulate the event with deputies didn't sway opponents.

"I live there, and I'm afraid it will set a precedent," said canyon resident Linda Brumley. "Even if people are told to ride single file, people will still ride side by side."

Cycling advocates told the commissioners that cyclists can cite just as much offensive behavior directed at them by motorists and residents, and they have every right to ride on the road.

"I think what Pat (Downing) had done to create a charity event using this road, as well as the mountain terrain around Denver, is a wonderful thing," said Donn Eley, founder of Brent's Place. Eley, who lives in Ken-Caryl Ranch, said she is an avid cyclist and has ridden on Deer Creek Canyon Road.

"I can understand the inconvenience of those people that live up that road," Eley said. "But that's how I would classify it: an inconvenience."

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbinecourier.com for updates and breaking news.