County in Colorado wants power to say “No” to bicycling

After denying a permit to a charity bicycle ride, commissioners in a Denver metro area county say they'll ask the state legislature to grant counties the power to ban bicycles from county roads of their choice.

The Bicycle Colorado advocacy group says this must not be allowed to happen.

“If such legislation were to pass, county roads anywhere in the state could be closed to bicyclists, including critical cycling routes like Deer Creek Canyon in Jefferson County, Swan Mountain Road in Summit County, Horsetooth Reservoir in Larimer County, and many, many more.”

I'm not familiar with these roads, but it sounds like a big mistake to give counties the right to ban bicycles from certain roads. Bicyclists have paid the taxes, along with other citizens, to build and maintain those county roads, and they have a perfect right to use those roads.

“Need more power”

The hare-brained idea by the Jefferson County Commissioners was first reported in the local Columbine Courier:

Commissioner Faye Griffin said after the hearing that the plan is in the idea stage, and nothing formal has occurred. But the debate over cycling on some roads showed the commissioners that they need more power, she said.

“We need to look at (laws) that make certain roads in the county (unusable) by bike traffic,” Griffin said. “We're saying to our lobbyist to look at the possibility of having some discretion on what roads can have bike traffic and which cannot. Right now there's clearness for cities, but we can't find that the county can say that.”

County Attorney Ellen Wakeman said state law gives cities and incorporated towns authority to regulate cycling on roads, but the law is unclear when it comes to counties. Legislation her office will craft in the coming weeks would add counties to the list of governments that can regulate cyclists and their road use.

Take action

Bicycle Colorado says the commissioners proposal cannot be taken lightly. “We continue our preparation to counter any legislative proposal that expands the risk of bike bans on public right-of-way.”

The advocacy group is asking that supporters join the organization, spread the word about the suggested bill, and get be ready to call elected officials to stop this madness.

See more at Bicycle Colorado.

Also reported at Cyclelicious, Cycling Dude and Bike Rumor, among others.

This is reminiscent of a county in Iowa that wanted to ban RAGBRAI and all organized bike rides from using county roads. See: “County that launched RAGBRAI ban backs down.”

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