Spring weather means more bicyclists, cars sharing the road

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DENVER -- A warning to drivers and parents alike now that warm weather is upon us. We’re seeing a bounty of bicyclists sharing the roads. And that can be dangerous.

An 8-year-old Denver girl is proof.

“I saw my neighbor run up the street. She was saying, ‘Is she alright? Is she alright?’” says neighbor Nancy Gallegos.

She says she HEARD the accident, then saw its aftermath.

“I saw the little girl and the bicycle, lying right before the stop sign. She had hit it and bounced back,” says Gallegos.

That little girl is 8-year-old Eliza jazz.

“He said go and then he just hit me,” says the banged-up second-grader.

Police say Eliza pedaled through a stop sign and hit a car which had the right of way.

“It does hurt when something happens to one of your kids,” says Eliza’s mom, Adrienne Yazza.

Police say the accident is a reminder to parents to go over rules of the road with their kids.

“I don’t blame anyone because it’s my fault,” said 14-year-old Corey Johnson, back on August 24, 2011.

Just last summer, Johnson biked through a red light in Thornton.

A car hit him, breaking his shoulder and leg, and leaving him in a wheelchair for weeks.

“A helmet is very important to have,” says bike expert Dave Lew from Treads Bicycle Outfitters in Lakewood.

Lew says kids should always wear a helmet. Gloves are also good--along with reflective clothing, flashing lights, and a heightened awareness of their surroundings.

“To know cars don’t see us. We think they do. But they don’t.  Even though we’re cyclists, pedestrians, we’re pretty much invisible,” says Lew.

Roman Zimmerman, shopping at Treads, says he doesn’t let his 5-year-old get on a bike without a helmet.

“It’s for his protection. Never know what’s going to happen because they are falling a lot,” he says.

“How is your chin doing?” asks Adrienne of Eliza. “It still hurts,” she says.

For Eliza, the lesson is a painful one.

Six stitches on her chin, a bruised knee, and perhaps battered confidence to get back on a bike.

“It makes me cry when I see her in pain,” says Adrienne.

Bicyclists need to follow the same rules as drivers--like stopping at stop signs and red lights--and driving with traffic, not against it.

Police say the driver who hit Eliza was cited for driving without a license.