Proposed bill would restrict bicycle bans in Colorado cities

The fight to reopen the streets of Black Hawk, Colorado, to bicycles is going to make it to the State House this year.

A state legislator told the Bicycle Colorado advocacy group that he will introduce a bill entitled the “Open Roads Act” when the General Assembly opens for business next week.

The bill would allow local authorities to prohibit bicycling on some streets only in limited cases and only if a nearby alternative route is designated.

The author of the bill, State Representative Andy Kerr, told Bicycle Colorado:

“Banning bicycle travel on every street in a community penalizes people that choose healthy, affordable, pollution-free transportation.”

Black Hawk's ban

The firestorm about bicycle bans was sparked over the summer when police in the town of Black Hawk started issuing tickets to people on bicycles.

The City Council for the casino-rich town in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains enacted a law in 2009 making it illegal to ride a bicycle on nearly every street. “No bicycling” signs went up in 2010. Police began issuing tickets over the summer.

City officials asserted the ban was needed because bicycling was dangerous. They raised concerns about the possibility of accidents between bicyclists and the  many gambling tour buses that prowl downtown, although there are no such collisions on record.

Court action

The configuration of the goldstrike-era town in the mountains is such that the only route through town is designated “no bicycling.” There is no alternative route. This effectively cuts off access to the neighboring town of Central City, and a huge section of the scenic Rocky Mountains to bicycle travelers.

An attempt to overturn the ordinance in court based in part on that argument failed in December. A municipal court judge denied a motion to dismiss the tickets issued to three men who had decided to fight the tickets in court.

According to Bicycle Colorado:

The road closure effectively shuts down bicycle access to a large portion of the state as the nearest paved detour for bicycles is fifty-five miles long. A national bicycle route promoting visits to Colorado's beautiful National Parks is severed by the ban.

Dan Grundig of Bicycle Colorado explained the organization's support for the bill:

“Our economy depends on welcoming visitors to Colorado. Closing roads sends the absolute wrong message and also threatens fundraising events for worthy charities.”

More about the bicycling ban can be found below:

 “Banned in Black Hawk: bicycles off-limits….”

“Bad days in Black Hawk”

“Black Hawk says no to bicycles, but solicits bike convention”

“Adventure Cycling Association route alert”

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