Sunday, June 27, 2010

Biking Banned in Black Hawk Colorado

A small town in the US has banned cyclists on most of its streets, punishing anyone who gets caught with a $68 fine. Black Hawk in Colorado, which has a population of just above 100, is possibly the first town in the US to make cycling illegal after a change in civic law. The city council claims that it did for "health and safety" reasons since its focus on gambling has brought more auto traffic to the town.

Now, cycling is illegal in the narrow, 19-century streets of Black Hawk's historic district, and force cyclists to dismount and walk their bikes for the quarter mile through town where cars and trucks get a free pass drive at will. Does this actually accomplish the intended goal of "safety"? Maybe someone should send them a pamphlet about Complete Streets, which aims to design safe, efficient streets for all kinds of people and all kinds of transportation.

The curious decree has been introduced for "health and safety" reasons, said administrators of the former gold mining town, which in the 1990s decided to develop gambling to prevent the place vanishing altogether.
Michael Copp, Black Hawk's city manager, admitted there had not been any accidents to prompt the ban, just concern over potential collisions between motor vehicles and bicycles on 19th-century streets that were designed for horses and carriages.

"This ordinance is necessary for the preservation of health and safety and for the protection of public convenience and welfare.The rules will allow bicycle traffic that originates locally to continue to operate with City Manager authorization, while still assuring that such traffic can operate in a manner that is not incompatible with vehicular traffic."  Black Hawk website.

The danger here is the precedent.  It's not right or legal and we need to make sure it's addressed before it's spread any further. An outright ban on being able to ride a bicycle through a community is unheard of in any other community in the country. Black Hawk seems proud to be first. At this point the council has no intention of repealing the ban. They believe their actions are what's best for its citizens in Black Hawk, which are casinos and their patrons. Cyclists' lobbies are gearing up to challenge the law, which they say is illegal.

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