Here we go again.
Manatee County, FL, officials have banned bicycles from 1.9-mile-long Hidden Valley Trail. The two-lane road is a low-traffic, east-west connection that’s a popular link used by bicyclists.A brief history of bicycle advocacy shows that bicycle bans don’t stick. Just ask officials in Black Hawk, CO (“Victory! Colorado Supreme Court overturns Black Hawk bicycle ban”), and St. Charles County, MO (“Bicycle ban on roads in Missouri county fails to pass”).
One of the odd things in this case, as reported in the Bradenton Herald, is that the signs — “Golf carts and bicycle prohibited” — originally were posted back in 2005 but quickly disappeared. They returned this spring.
That’s not the only odd thing about signs posted by the county. Bicyclists who ignore the ban — and members of the Village Idiots Cycling Club often do — are not in danger of being ticketed. According to the Bradenton Herald:
“Dave Bristow, a spokesman for the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, said the bike ban is not backed by a county ordinance. Without an ordinance, the sheriff’s office has no basis for issuing citations.”
Vanessa Baugh (firstname.lastname@example.org), the county commissioner who represents the area, says the Hidden Valley Trail is a public safety issue, because the two-lane road is too narrow for cars to pass bicyclists.
The Florida Bicycle Association says the Hidden Valley Trail bicycle ban is the only such prohibition they’ve heard of in the state. Florida law states: “Every person propelling a vehicle by human power has all the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle.”
The county attorney cites another state statute — 316.008 — allows the bicycle ban.
It sounds like the issue will have to be settled in the courts, or court of public opinion.