Don't want to freak anybody out too bad, but it could certainly happen one day. You're cruising through town, reeling off block after block at a steady pace. Sure is a beautiful mornin'. You're riding under a green light when an oncoming driver who has completely failed to notice your existence suddenly cranks a tire-squealing left directly at you. Despite your attempts to swerve and wriggle out of the vehicle's path, the Hyundai could not be on any more of a collision course if the driver had deliberately taken aim, and those crazy laws of physics offer no possible escape. Your only recourse is to unleash a blood-curdling 'Nooooo!!' a split second before impact with the car's bumper that crushes the bike with instant shocking force and sends you ragdolling into the windshield. Moments later you're sitting in the street, injured but relieved to be alive. Torn shoulder, broken ribs, broken wrist. What else? You hit your head somewhere in there, there is blood but you think you'll be all right. Witnesses are horrified -- it probably looks a lot worse to them than it really is. Still, you'll be headed to the hospital in an ambulance for a full work-up including MRIs. Gratitude to be alive is tempered somewhat by a look at your destroyed bike, and a realization that things are going to get very expensive (for someone), and that for you the next several months will be extremely ... aggravating. Also, the ambulance seems to be taking forever to get there. Don't move! somebody cries. Man, you think, 911 is a joke.

I made that up, but this story is not that different from thousands of real-life incidents that occur each year. The citation handed to the driver (if you're lucky) after the all-too-common scene would be written up as a simple 'failure to yield.' House Bill 1104 currently making its way through the Colorado state legislature would raise the stakes for an infraction involving injury or death, creating a new category called Aggravated Failure to Yield. The offense would come with stronger penalties, larger fines and more possible jail time.

House Bill 1104 has special significance for Colorado cyclists, because as 'vulnerable road users' we are not only more likely than other vehicles to be overlooked but more likely to be injured in a collision than a victim in a car. This law is exactly the sort of thing that many cycling advocates have been clamoring for (check out Bicycle Colorado's page on this law). But what effect will it actually have? While we should of course be skeptical about such a law having much effect on driver behavior, we can recognize it as a decent thought and maybe a step in the right direction. But for cyclists actually injured in these aggravated failures-to-yield the proposed law wouldn't seem to be any help whatsoever. It would be nice if such laws could help ensure proper restitution for victims rather than just increasing penalties for offenders.