‘Safety’ concerns prompt biking ban in Colorado town

Posted by on June 25th, 2010 at 12:46 pm

A “No Bikes” sign greets
visitors to Black Hawk, CO.
(Photo: Bicycle Colorado)

As you probably have already heard, a small casino town in Colorado has passed – and is now enforcing – a ban on biking. The town of Black Hawk has drawn national attention for the ban and Colorado bike advocacy group Bicycle Colorado is mobilizing to have the law repealed.

The impetus behind the ban is a feeling by Black Hawk’s leaders that bike traffic simply gets in the way of its casino clientele — a clientele that has skyrocketed in numbers after a recent increase in the town’s betting limits.

I’ll repeat: This ban is not because the city of Black Hawk is concerned about the safety of people riding bikes, the ban was passed because bike traffic threatens the safety of motor vehicle traffic.

Here’s the official language in the ordinance:

“…bicycles and other non-motorized traffic found to be incompatible with normal and safe movement of traffic shall be prohibited…. this ordinance is neccessary for the preservation of health and safety and for the protection of public convenience and welfare.”

But wait, there’s more:

“The City of Black hawk is desirous of providing on site parking for its customers, and the number of vehicles and customary traffic movements such as turning movements on City streets accessing the City’s businesses make the addition of bicycle traffic fundamentally unsafe.”

So far, eight unlucky people have been ticketed for riding through Black Hawk. According to a source, Bicycle Colorado has secured legal representation and plans to fight the tickets. The tickets will not be overturned locally (the law clearly prohibits biking), but an appeal to a higher court will likely prove that the ban is illegal.

Lawyer, author, and Bicycling Magazine contributor Bob Mionske says the ban has no legal merit. He writes in a recent blog post on the issue that, “The City of Black Hawk is about to be reminded that it is the law, and not the city, that holds all the cards…”

Another interesting wrinkle is that some of the streets where biking is now banned are on the official bike touring route of the Adventure Cycling Association. They’ve got a detailed response on their blog.

This story reminded me of a bike ban episode we experienced here in Portland a few years back. In March of 2006, ODOT put forth a proposal to ban bicycles on several metro area highways. The proposal raised concerns from advocates and from lawyer Ray Thomas, who wrote, “ODOT’s consideration of a ban on bicycles on metro area freeways is legally unnecessary and a restriction on bicyclists’ legal rights.”

Like in Black Hawk, ODOT’s proposal was forwarded out of ‘safety concerns’ (although it was unclear whether they meant safety of people on bikes, in cars, or both).

Like Dan Grunig from Bicycle Colorado who is worried that the Black Hawk ordinance could set a precedent, Bicycle Transportation Alliance Board Member Susan Otcenas responded to the ODOT proposal by warning that ‘safety concerns’ are a “slippery slope.”

“What if “safety concerns” gradually brought about the banning of bikes on all sorts of roads we use all the time? Don’t laugh, or think it can’t happen – I was in Spokane last weekend and saw “NO BICYCLES” signs on major thoroughfares there – not freeways, just busy roads.”

Thankfully, ODOT quickly came to their senses and shelved the bike ban proposal less than a month later.

Bicycle Colorado plans a rally on the steps of the state capitol on June 29th and they’re gathering signatures of support via a petition they’ll hand over to the Black Hawk city council next month. Find out more about the bike ban on Bicycle Colorado’s website.

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9watts
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9watts

Fortunately I think the trend is generally in the opposite direction: banning cars from parts of large cities that are being turned into pedestrian malls. Once accomplished even the merchants come around. Sections of most cities in Europe have restrictions and often outright bans on car traffic. Delivery vehicles are often exempted during certain periods of the day.

Velophile in Exile
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Velophile in Exile

Even Black Hawk residents who don’t like bicycles on the road should be upset about this law because it reflects complete legal incompetency and mismanagement on the part of city government officials. Getting sued and losing over what is an obviously unconstitutional law will be extremely expensive for the city and was completely foreseeable by anyone with half a brain. These people should be removed from office before they bankrupt the city — there are only so many people who are bad enough at math to patronize casinos.

Burk
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Burk

“The impetus behind the ban is a feeling by Black Hawk’s leaders that bike traffic simply gets in the way of its casino clientele — the volume of which has skyrocketed after a recent increase in the town’s betting limits.”

Does anyone else find this sentence completely hilarious?

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

it states “…bicycles and other non-motorized traffic found to be incompatible with normal and safe movement of traffic…” which means that if you challenge it in court the city would have to somehow prove that a bicycle is incompatible with normal/safe traffic, which every court knows is untrue since bicycles are part of normal/safe traffic…

so it looks like they wrote a law that they can’t enforce…

Marcus Griffith
Guest
Marcus Griffith

How does constitutional equal protection of the law apply to this situation?

Obviously the town is catering to the wants of the casino, but is that enough to ban an entire class of people from the town?

Did I miss it? Again?
Guest
Did I miss it? Again?

Would this be as big a deal if they were banning horseback riding on the streets? What about that class? Are they unfairly targeted as well?

Did I miss it? Again?
Guest
Did I miss it? Again?

“..(although it was unclear whether they meant safety of people on bikes, in cars, or both). ”
I do find this sentence funny. As if the safety of one group should outweigh the safety of another?
IF it was convenience of one group vs. safety of another, then I would understand the comment.

Velophile in Exile
Guest
Velophile in Exile

[6] Seems to me that the law does ban horseback riding. Are people using horses to get around the town? if so, then of course they are being unfairly targeted, but it is pretty obvious that this ban came about because of people riding bikes and it seems like you are just trying to stir the pot with the whole “whiny bikers” BS.

Roland
Guest
Roland

Roadtrip and gigantic Critical Mass ride through Black Hawk, Colorado anyone? How many cops do they have, like three?

Opus the Poet
Guest

Actually I have a better idea. Anybody near Blackhawk have a backhoe they can lend? I would think a 3′ wide trench, 6′ deep, would probably stop anything short of a Monster Truck or a tracked vehicle like a tank. You need to do that on the far side of town from where the backhoe is stored, then another one on the way back out of town to completely cut the “good corporate citizens” off from their customers. The rest of them can have the entire city to their cars, until the gas runs out. Of course if they get hungry they can always hike out for some food…

Balph Eubank
Guest
Balph Eubank

I thought the ban was just on the main drag.

Blackhawk, this is Portland speaking:
WE are for:
1) Illegal immigration
2) Banning cars in town
3) Intentional congestion of streets
4) One get out of jail free card for the mayor. Correction – make that two cards.
5) Not reporting on Al Gore until discovered by The Enquirer
6) Lots of other stupid stuff

WARNING TO BLACKHAWK: We will pass a resolution to boycott your town unless you get rid of your law. WHY? Because our citizens are idiots and don’t throw us out of office for wasting their money when we do stupid stuff!

Vance Longwell
Guest

So when some other person has irrational safety concerns, that work against the agenda, they must be opposed. But when irrational safety concerns benefit the agenda, they are valid.

Maybe this has nothing to do with the Casino at all. Maybe it is the very thinly veiled swipe at bicycle-riders it appears to be? Have you been to Durango? While I support bicycle-riding I don’t support eradicating an entire town’s history of tradition. There’s passable single-track (If you like riding in a desert on solid-rock for dirt, covered in a layer of Goat’s Heads, and slowly suffocating to death.) in Colorado that attracts otherwise well-meaning folks in hordes. I don’t think bicycle-riders intend to wipe out small-town culture, any more than I think those that try to stop it do so out of mere malice. I mean good-grief, you do know that some people live out in the boonies to get away from city-folk and their crazy ideas, don’t you?

Whatever. Don’t be pissing all over other people’s stupid safety-concern-smoke-screen because that’s pretty S.O.P. in this-here joint too!

Balph – Nice one, man!

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Denverpost has some clarification on the width consideration that the msnbc article linked above in the lead article doesn’t have. An excerpt:

“…The roads in Black Hawk are narrow and do not have shoulders. They teem with tour buses and delivery trucks that feed the bustling casinos. Demanding that those trucks provide 3 feet of space when passing cyclists — as required by a 2009 Colorado law — means trucks and buses must move into oncoming traffic, Copp said. …”

denverpost.com/Bicyclists want to derail Black Hawk’s ban, By Jason Blevins/a>

Wikipedia has a page on Black Hawk, and a picture of the town’s main street. Check out the City of Black Hawk web page for a better picture of Main Street. To me, that street looks fairly wide. For a town of 118 residents, it’s got some great vintage buildings…restored, thanks to gambling revenue. Read the wiki page…it tells how gambling money puts the town in a competition for gaming dollars with nearby Central City. Black Hawk has a more relaxed building code than CC, allowing it to approve a 33 story hotel.

wikipedia page/Black Hawk Colorado

Black Hawk might have approached differently, the problem of safety arising from an increase in gambling business related service trucks through the town. With only 118 residents from which to choose leaders to make these kinds of decisions, or pick someone with more knowledge and experience in these kinds of issues that can…it probably shouldn’t be a big surprise that something like the bike ban happened.

It would be great to hear about the town’s discussion leading up to the decision, from a resident of the town other than the town’s city manager.

city of Black Hawk web page

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Sorry…I somehow screwed up the paragraph about the wiki page, and turned into a link for the denverpost article. Edit as is necessary.

Red Five
Guest

We’re for ILLEGAL immigration? Uh sorry, we are NOT.

jim
Guest
jim

Portland is for anything that is illegal, thats what makes it weird

Ventura
Guest
Ventura

I live in Spokane, WA. I suspect that the road where Susan Otcenas noticed the prohibition of bicycles was the six mile stretch of North Division Street, or the adjacent North Ruby Street that it forms a couplet with. (Interstate 90 through the city also prohibits bicycles.) I don’t believe any other roads in the city prohibit bicycles.
– Ventura

Chris
Guest
Chris

Hmm.. I wonder what would happen if you mount a power assist motor on the bike, and cruise through town without pedaling?
Technically, it is then a motorized vehicle, so might not be subject to the law.

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

Vance,

I spent a couple of weeks riding with the locals in Durango, racing in the Rally of the Dead, and playing polo.

Cycling there did not appear to have wiped out their “small town culture”………

And the trails in town you speak of?

While some may fit the description you gave, most of the trails are thrill rides, sections of wall riding through gullies, 1000 ft descent’s down hogsbacks…

Maybe you rode in a different Durango?

And did you ride Phil’s World?

Wesley Mouch
Guest
Wesley Mouch

#14, RED 5:

Yes, the PDX city council is for illegal immigration:

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2010/06/portland_city_council_says_ari.html

Most of the rest of us are NOT for it, but the Portland city council thinks it is their business to say what goes on in Arizona. A REAL GOOD house cleaning is way overdue in the PDX city council. I wonder how much mony they spent discussing/debating that issue and the fallout from it?

esther
Guest
esther

the colorado drivers handbook is pretty clear on the subject.

Bicycles are a legitimate form of transportation and are considered “vehicles” under state law. Per Colorado Revised Statute 42-4-1412, bicyclists have the same rights and duties as motorists. Because motorists and bicyclists share the road, both are responsible for following the rules of the road to ensure safety and both can be ticketed for not obeying traffic laws though points are not assessed against the bicyclist’s driver’s license.

Vance Longwell
Guest

Dabby #17 – I’m sure your two weeks gives you the authority here. The two years I lived there, coupled with the countless times I’ve visited, plus 6, or so, paternal generations from that corner of the state, of course, doesn’t mean a thing. Feel free to go right ahead and just state the opposite of what I did.

If you feel the locals are just splendidly pleased with the MTB community there, you’re lying if you say you’ve been there more than one minute.

Although this attempted ban makes perfect sense to me, I don’t support the policy. I just have empathy, is all.

Jerry_W
Guest
Jerry_W

Black Hawk, CO is a little mountain sewer of a town, I wouldn’t want to ride there anyway. I’m sure the courts in Colorado will sort this all out. Ride on to Idaho Springs and enjoy a soak in the hot spring and a nice lunch and beer at the brew pub. If your riding north stop in Nederland for coffee and a scone at the coffee shop there. You don’t need to go to Black Hawk, it’s just a bunch of smoky casinos.

Jerry_W
Guest
Jerry_W

Dumb ass bike advocates make a big stink about this story just feeds what BH casinos want, free publicity. Their latest news release want the press to print what customers want to hear, ” we have raised betting limits”, so we want it to be easy for gamblers to get here. Insignificant publications, like BikePortland, can print this drivel all day without impact, who cares. But the Denver Post prints it and people flock to Black Hawk. Bike Riders are dupes to the PR machine, calm down and think.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Jerry_W …have you actually been to Black Hawk and spent any time at all there? I haven’t, but from the pictures (see my earlier post for links), it doesn’t at all look like a “…a little mountain sewer of a town …”.

It looks to be a beautiful little town…nice vintage buildings, nice mountain setting, and backdrop…but not much in the way of means for income before the casinos. Up in the Columbia Gorge, here in Oregon, the little town of Cascade Locks, has a somewhat similar problem, which is why it really wanted to be able to site a casino there.

Someone in Black Hawk might have seen it fortunate that they were on the route for some significant bike touring events (or at least one, it seems). Not hard to understand that that less earnings can probably be expected from bike tour stopovers than can from gambling. On the other hand, some people might find there are beneficial aspects to business from bike touring that aren’t characteristic of the gaming business, making it a business that’s worthwhile to support with amenities that welcome rather than discourage people that ride bikes, from coming to Black Hawk.

Getting some perspective on what the town might have thought about this is why I was thinking it would be great if someone that knew the Black Hawk situation could offer some insight here.

Jerry_W
Guest
Jerry_W

Actually I have been through BH many times, I’m from Colorado. BH has always been the wrong side of the tracks from Central City, and sounds like it still is. It was where the smelters, tailings and other waste from the mines were located, so it was in fact the sewer of the area wsbob. The charm you see in the pics is the work of casino money, they may fool you wsbob, but not me.

Central City across the highway is the real deal, it has a wonderful theater company, nice cafes and hotels. Any bike tours (Ride The Rockies) may choose Central City, but just because of the topography (plus many other reasons)would move away from BH.
Clearly you need to go see the area for yourself to understand. Typical bike advocate hot air with no knowledge.

Did I miss it? Again?
Guest
Did I miss it? Again?

Wha? Whiney bikers? On Bike Portland?!
With as many people here who have vacationed or driven through CO, we have more than enough authority to determine what is wrong with this town and the people living there.
We all have Wiki-d the town and are abreast of all the facts now. Some may have even read two articles regarding the story.
Obviously the answer is to boycott the town. That’ll teach those 118 people (I wonder how many of those are under 18).

As this is such a small town and probably doesn’t have all the cycling infrastructure dollars that huge PDX has, perhaps cycling groups could have fundraisers for a bike path?

Naw- it’s much easier to get angry and spew insults and threats.

9watts
Guest
9watts

The size of the town, its history, or how well we here know the town are irrelevant I think. What prompted the article, if I remember correctly, was the misguided and as many have suggested very likely illegal banning of bikes from city streets under the guise of safety for automobilists. So why not keep it civil and focused?

esther
Guest
esther

the colorado drivers manual clearly states that according to state law bikes are a legal means of transport.

the streets of this town are paid for with state highway money. they can no more ban bikes than they could say no more chevy’s, only fords.

Kt
Guest
Kt

Interesting– looking at the map on the town’s webpage which shows the closed streets, you can still ride through the town– on Hwy 119, which cuts through the middle of town.

It’s not as safe an alternative as Main St, which is part of the banned list, but it does get you through town. Stay in the Right lane, so cars can go around you in the left lane.

If you get a ticket for riding on 119, make sure you print out the official map from the city’s website showing that road as ok for bikes.

Kt
Guest
Kt

Forgot to post the official wording that goes with the map:

“City of Black Hawk Ordinances 2009-20 and 2010-3 states bicycles are prohibited within the City on certain streets. Signs are posted on Gregory Street, Main Street, Richman Street, Mill Street, Miner’s Mesa Road, Bobtail Street, and Selak Street prohibiting bicycles.”

So it’s not the whole town, as the article suggests, but it is a lot of the lower-speed streets surround the main hwy.

John
Guest
John

Whoa, the trolls have found Bikeportland.org. Congratulations.

This is a bike forum–meaning national bike stories are Topically Relevant. There’s a huge world wide web out there if you want to read about something else.

The wheezing & huffing about Portland, either out of self-hate or Portland-phobia is boring and old hat. Now go get some sun and relax.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…The charm you see in the pics is the work of casino money, they may fool you wsbob, but not me. …” Jerry_W #26

Jerry…I didn’t say it was a nice town…I said it looked like a nice town from the pictures.

I think I noted earlier that I’d never been there. That’s why I was hoping someone that had, and knew the situation there, including, perhaps the people, would speak up.

A town’s history having been one of a mining nature with all the nasty processing measures that go along with it, doesn’t necessarily mean the town and it’s people are terrible today. Oftentimes, residents of small towns are great people.

9watt’s statement “… The size of the town, its history, or how well we here know the town are irrelevant I think. …” in comment #28, is one I don’t really agree with. The size and history of the town is important to understanding how the town’s people or its leaders may have come to the decision to impose the bike restriction ordinance.

Little towns like Black Hawk have difficulty finding ways to provide income and employment for its residents are common. West of the Cascades, Oregon, west of the Cascades. That’s partly why politically, Oregon’s a red state over there. Little towns located in less populated and less developed areas of their states need help determining wise and practical ways to generate income to provide for their citizens needs.

So Black Hawk needed money and gaming showed up at its door. Black Hawk invited them in. That’s not a invitation I would liked having to extend…gaming isn’t a business I personally like. Lacking a sense or reality that better options were available to them, maybe the town felt this was it’s best economic option.

I’d like to think that the town could have devised a means other than a ban of bikes on its streets to deal with the safety issue. It’s hard to know if it could have or not, without actually talking to someone from the town that knows about or was involved in the decisions related to the bike ban.

So far, the response from bike advocacy groups mentioned in the articles, to the town’s decision, sounds reflexively hostile and contemptuous. Did a rep from any of those groups attempt to talk to Black Hawk leaders or citizens before taking that tact? If they had, this situation might have been able to be resolved more compatibly than it looks like it will be now.

Jerry…I do though, appreciate your having referred to me as a “…bike advocate …”, even if it was meant dismissively. That’s rich considering just last week, someone here in a bikeportland comment referred to me as ‘anti-bike’.

Did I miss it? Again?
Guest
Did I miss it? Again?

9watts-
How is knowing the entire story and all the related details irrelevant? Was it irrelevant last week when people were pissed about Trimet running over poor little Johnny Hipster?
Here is a story that is not fully reported and people are suggesting that trenches be dug in the streets and the town is boycotted (taken with a grain of salt, but still…)?!

Now, with a little further investigation, it seems it is not the entire town (despite the post title). Jonathan posted excerpts from the ordinance but not the entire thing, and despite his assertion that the law is out of concern for the safety of drives, the section quoted states otherwise. Why only parts of the ordinance and where is the part that states they don’t care about cyclists welfare?

John- Welcome to Bike Portland. Trolls have been here a long time, as have even-tempered, the righteous, the fanatics, and everyone else.
I believe this, and not the desire to break the law, is what keeps Portland weird. But by all means, call the dissenters names.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Correction:

“… West of the Cascades, Oregon, has bunch of them in that situation. …”

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

I think esther (#29) is right. It appears Colorado (like most states) recognizes bicycles as legal vehicles, and has no authority to do this.

And even if Black Hawk did have the authority to ban bikes on its side streets, the main drag is STATE HIGHWAY 119. It’s legal to travel from some other town to the edge of Black Hawk by bicycle, but it’s not legal to travel through the town to get to the other side where you’re legal again? Again, the city does not have this authority.

John
Guest
John

Pssst. @Did I miss it? Again?
In answer to your screen name: yes.

I’m only calling the name callers (quote: “dumb ass”, “whiny” (that’d be you), “idiots”) a name (Troll). No one has to like bikes or Portland, but I’m questioning why such people waste time at a url called “bikeportland” getting so bent outta shape in the first place.

Did I miss it? Again?
Guest
Did I miss it? Again?

John- Look again. I did not call anyone any names. Look at the people posting and you will see that they have a different screen name.
I will help you:
The “whiny” comment was made by Velophile. #8.
“Dumb ass” was used by Jerry W. #24.
“Trolls” was used by John (that’d be you). #32.

It’s cool though. Trolls seems to be the acceptable insult on this blog and can be used against anyone not seemingly backing a pro-bike agenda. Understood and accepted.

I agree that some people probably shouldn’t come to the site. I also think some people should get the entire story before becoming a parody of the South Park citizens (rabble rabble rabble).

Morgan
Guest
Morgan

(I know is off-topic, but…)
Vance #22
If you din’t find good riding in Durango, than you weren’t trying.
And please don’t try to speak for the locals of Durango. I grew up there, went to school there, and my folks still live there. What small town traditions did cycling kill in DGO? Did cycling kill the Silverton train? Did it kill the farming and ranching communities? Did it kill main ST?
No way. The town survives because of tourism, be it a ski resort, mtn biking, rafting or what have you. The town has no appreciable industry, and is too isolated to make ranching and farming worthwile on a larger scale. We as locals understand that and have adjusted. Would you rather that the time-honored, small-town tradition of becoming a ghost-town carry on there?

Do we always love the tourists? Of course not,

Morgan
Guest
Morgan

… but we understand that if we want to survive as a town, the money to do so must come from somewhere.

(Sorry about that). 🙂

esther
Guest
esther

mtn biking sure beats golf as a summer substitute for skiing to keep the tourist dollars flowing. cyclists won’t drain your water supply and poison whats left of it.

if the town was truly concerned about safety they’d have banned rv’s from their streets. nohing is scarier in a gambling town than really old people driving on unfamiliar streets in an rv. ever been to linciln city or the rest of the or coast. give me a fully loaded log truck any day.

Did I miss it? Again?
Guest
Did I miss it? Again?

Esther-

100,000% agreement.

Opus the Poet
Guest

Chris #18

By Federal Law an electric assist bicycle with no more than 750 Watts that can do no more than 20 MPH with the motor, is a bicycle not a motor vehicle. Any electric vehicle faster/more powerful than that is a motor vehicle and must be registered otherwise they would get you for operating an unregistered motor vehicle.

bikesalot
Guest
bikesalot

I find it easy to believe this is all for the convenience/profit of the Casino. We were touring past the Spirit Mountain Casino a couple of years ago and stopped to have a nice dinner. After a futile search for a bike parking facility, the valet parking folks directed me to the security desk.

Security informed me the reason for not finding bike parking was that bicycles were not permitted on the premises, and that we would have to leave. The folks in the next community down the road were astonished that the Casino turned away ANY revenue, however…..

Needless to say, my opinion of casinos is not improving over time. I have yet to have a positive interaction with one.

9watts
Guest
9watts

wsbob @ #33-my point about the history being irrelevant could have been made better. History and nuance are always interesting, and may help understand subtleties where those are present, but in this case the attitude that bikes are a nuisance is all too familiar, not unique to Blackhawk, CO. I encounter it from drivers on Hawthorne Blvd and Burnside, who are convinced that Salmon and Ankeny ‘are where bikes belong.’ The cultural resistance to sharing the road–any road–with bikes, whether it takes the form of a ban in a small town in Colorado, or repeated rude encounters on major streets in SE Portland is the problem, and calling attention to the problem wherever it manifests itself seems to me useful in the long term effort to get through to folks who still feel that the road is theirs alone that bikes aren’t going away.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…Security informed me the reason for not finding bike parking was that bicycles were not permitted on the premises, and that we would have to leave. …” bikesalot #44

Seriously? That sounds very odd. Why would they do that? Gaming isn’t something everybody enjoys, but the casino does have food and entertainment as well. For those offerings, bicycle travelers could well represent significant income to the casino. I sent an email to Spirit Mountain requesting information about hospitality the casino offers to people traveling to the casino by bike. Hope to get an answer….we’ll see.

9watts #45 …maybe it’s because I don’t spend the number of hours in traffic on the bike that many people do, but personally, I rarely get responses from motor vehicle road users that the presence of my bike and others is a nuisance on the road.

That isn’t to say that this feeling doesn’t exist on the part of some road users; I know it does, but I think it’s a feeling that gradually is waning as cycling for practical purposes increases.

As to whether the small town of Black Hawk may or may not have banned the presence of bikes on some of its streets because certain of its residents or leaders found bikes to be a nuisance…that’s something that doesn’t seem to have been clearly established. I’d like to think that eventually, relevant factual details will be reported that will give further insight on this.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“Gaming isn’t something everybody enjoys, but the casino does have food and entertainment as well. For those offerings, bicycle travelers could well represent significant income to the casino.”

I’ve always heard that the profits at casinos aren’t made on food and drink sales; those items are only provided to attract and retain gamblers for as long as possible.

BUT, who says cyclists don’t gamble? Is this prohibition based on the flawed assumption that cyclists must be poor (otherwise they would drive a car), and therefore don’t have money to gamble with? After all, many would say we gamble with our lives every time we hit the street on a bike!

daniel miles
Guest
daniel miles

I used to live in Colorado and have spent considerable time biking in those mountains, though admittedly not through Black Hawk. Still, I feel like I can shed some light on the local culture and conflicts.

CO mountain roads are REALLY popular for people training for bike races. I’ve seen Lance Armstrong himself blazing up a hill with his team. It’s not uncommon when driving in the mountains to come upon a pack of 10-20 cyclists in the road. There are also no shoulders. Anywhere. Ever. There isn’t even enough space for the cyclists to stop their bikes and squeeze to the side to let the motorists by. So for someone driving a car on mountain roads, their already frustrating drive up a narrow, curvy, steep road can get slowed to 4-5 mph. Because the mountain roads usually have light traffic, it’s usually only a matter of a minute or two before drivers can safely pass the pack of cyclists by using the oncoming lane, but in places with lots of curves, it’s impossible to know if it’s safe to do that or not, so sometimes a driver can be stuck behind cyclists for quite some time.

I’m sure you can understand that this has lead to a certain animosity between cyclists and motorists. The only time anyone has ever fired a gun at me was because I was biking on a mountain road (incidentally, I STRONGLY disagree with Winston Churchill on the exhilaration of being shot at and missed, it’s completely terrifying with no upside whatsoever).

As to Black Hawk itself, you have to understand that the town was very small, having maybe 20 houses and a restaurant/bar/tonk before they legalized gambling and the size of the roads they have still matches the small town. The trouble is that now it’s ABSOLUTELY FREAKING HUGE, at least by mountain town standards. The freight traffic alone is well above what the tiny mountain roads can safely support, not to mention the tourist traffic.

When you add all that up, mountain cyclists really can cost the town serious money and modifying the infrastructure (IE, building bike lanes) is not physically possible because there are mountains in the way.

I still don’t think it’s right for them to restrict the kinds of vehicles allowed on the roads and I suspect they’ll find when they get to state courts that since the law defines bicycles as vehicles, they’re not legally permitted to differentiate, but if ever there was a town with a legitimate reason to ban bikes, it’s Black Hawk.

Needless to say, that’s part of why I moved. I love you, Portland.

9watts
Guest
9watts

I take back what I said about the details not being that important here. Wow. Thank you, Daniel, for providing some truly useful context.

resopmok
Guest
resopmok

Details are important, but that doesn’t make the action any less wrong. It’s great the town found a way to prey on people’s habits and addictions in order to fuel its economy, but if it wants to grow, it needs to be able to support itself with the additional tax revenue. This means providing public services, such as fire, police and roads to its expanding population. The state’s definition of what vehicles are allowed on state highways is clear, whether Black Hawk likes it or not. Next time, they should consider their diet before outgrowing their britches.