Cyclists, rejoice: Effective today, AAA Colorado is expanding its roadside assistance program to cover bicycles, which means members whose bikes break down mid-ride can now call for help.
Under the expanded program, AAA will retrieve members and transport them and their bikes to the destination of their choice for no extra charge.
Colorado is the second state to implement this bicycle-inclusive program, with Oregon originating it. But Colorado is the first to offer the service at a no-charge benefit to all members, according to Wave Dreher, spokeswoman for AAA Colorado.
"As everyone knows, bicycling is very popular in Colorado, so we looked at that, but more importantly, we listened to our members through focus groups and other conversations and decided that we'd add this benefit," Dreher said.
The service does not include bike repair, but Dreher said Colorado AAA staff have been trained in bike handling.
"We know a lot of people in Colorado have very expensive bicycles, so we want to handle them properly," she said.
Dreher said a normal response time, depending on weather and traffic, is about 30 to 45 minutes. A service vehicle will meet the caller "at a trailhead or on a publicly traveled road."
While the idea sounds great to most cyclists, those pick-up location constraints raised a few concerns.
Chris Verdone, sales associate at Performance Bike on Araphaoe Avenue said, "It sounds great if you're somewhere with cell phone service and your bike breaks down. I bet a lot of cyclists with broken bikes are up in the mountains out of cell phone range, though."
Christine Benetti, AAA member and operations supervisor at Bicycle Village on 28th Street, said the service sounded great — and she would absolutely use it if necessary.
"I do think it shows a need for bicycle repair knowledge, though," she said. "It's an important skill to be able to fix a flat tire or other easy fixes when you're a cyclist. ... Obviously, things happen that you can't fix right on the road, and I think this service is good for that. It'd be cheaper than getting a taxi or a bus ride if you're stranded."
Dreher said basic AAA membership is $75 for a year with the option of paying a monthly fee of $7.25.
"One of our messages is that we believe in safety for all road users and that includes cars, motorcycles and bicycles," Dreher said. "We want to continue our advocacy efforts to make sure everyone on the road is safe."