If you go
What: Crank It Forward Fundraising Gala
When: 6 p.m. May 18
Where: Rembrandt Yard, 1301 Spruce St., Boulder
More info: bit.ly/2Hq2Atx
The increasing congestion of Boulder County's roads is driving support for bicycling safety efforts, according to the organizers of an annual event meant to raise awareness and money for the issue.
Crank It Forward, a fundraising gala in its second year, has been racking up corporate sponsors and ticket sales. Last year's inaugural event, sponsored solely by Denver-based Signature Windows, sold out. This year's festivities are on pace to do the same, but more quickly — and with more business backers.
Nine Front Range companies have signed up to pitch in. Boulder law firm Mann & Maximon is one of the local businesses who threw their cash to Crank it Forward. The practice handles bicycle accident law, and collisions have been increasing in recent years, said partner Stuart Mann, motivating him to become a sponsor.
"We see a lot of the carnage that has occurred," Mann said. "Given how much more congested the roads are getting with cars and cyclists, it's important we try to educate everybody about road etiquette and safety."
Mann and his law partner — both cyclists — were already supporters of the nonprofit behind Crank it Forward, Cyclists for Community. Founded in 2013 to fund disaster recovery following the floods, the organization's mission has shifted in recent years to promoting and improving bike safety on Boulder County roads.
There was a definite need, said Russ Chandler, C4C cofounder and co-owner of Boulder's Full Cycle. Community Cycles does similar work in the city of Boulder, but many roads around the county, popular with cyclists, needed attention.
The 2017 Crank it Forward funded the purchase of a digital message board that will move around to various cycling hot spots, displaying messages that remind motorists to watch out for bikes. Permanent signs are also going up at several high-traffic areas throughout the county.
Whatever loot is brought in at this year's event will go toward launching a Bicycle Friendly Motorist Program in Boulder County, in conjunction with the support of Boulder County Transportation Department. Fort Collins developed the program in 2015, and it will be implemented statewide over the next several years.
"Boulder is getting more populated; there's more and more drivers and drivers that aren't from here" and used to navigating around riders, said Chandler.
Already, there have been two cyclists fatalities in Boulder County this year, ahead of the busy summer cycling season.
Nationally, pedestrian and cyclist deaths from hit-and-runs are rising as more people cycle to work, The Wall Street Journal reported, utilizing data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. About 68 percent of fatal hit-and-run victims in 2016 were on foot or bike, the report said, up from 61 percent a decade earlier.
Cyclists, too, need to be educated, said Chandler's Full Cycle co-owner, Ed Kuh.
"Unfortunately, the bikers, whether they're in the right or wrong, they end up dead wrong."