Cyclists Take Black Hawk Bike-Ban Case to Colorado Supreme Court

Of all the places we’ve criticized for antagonistic treatment of cyclists, Black Hawk, Colorado stands alone. This tiny town of just 118 has taken intolerance of people on bikes to its logical conclusion: an outright ban on cycling.

Looks awfully treacherous, doesn't it? Photo: Colorado Gambling Forum

The legal battle began last summer, when three cyclists were ticketed for riding through town. Since then, Bicycle Colorado has been helping to finance a legal challenge that would have the law struck down. Now, it appears that case may take them to the state Supreme Court.

Richard Masoner at Network blog Cyclelicio.us has the details:

In January 2010, the casino town of Black Hawk, CO banned bicycles from the main roads through town because of “safety concerns.” After a trio of cyclists passing through town were ticketed, they took the tickets to the small town city judge with the help of Bicycle Colorado and several attorneys and law students who provided free help for the case. Judge Ronald W. Carlson heard the case and rejected the constitutional arguments, affirming the tickets and fines. The Black Hawk city council, incidentally, hires and fires their city judges.

The cyclists and attorneys have now presented the case to the state Supreme Court. Attorneys Paul Schwartz and Andrew Shoemaker of Shoemaker Ghiselli & Schwartz LLC argue that Black Hawk overstepped its rights as a local authority in ignoring state laws by not providing an alternative access route for bicyclists to follow. The bicycle ban prohibits bicycle travel on most Black Hawk roads and cuts any paved bicycle connection between Central City and the Peak to Peak Highway. The ban also severs a national cycling route, with the nearest detour increasing the distance by approximately 27 miles.

Perhaps Black Hawk officials should check the statistics that show increased cycling saves lives because the physical activity reduces mortality at a rate that far exceeds increased risk of dying in traffic.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Commute by Bike looks at the various ways communities tell cyclists they aren’t welcome. Cap’n Transit looks at the vastly different financial structure of transit in the United States and Hong Kong, and how that has led to discrepancies in service. And Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling reports that the county is planning a series of “improvements” that will ultimately make transit centers less safe for cyclists and pedestrians.