Colorado city bike ban challenged

Bicycle Colorado brings Black Hawk bike ban to court

Bicycle Colorado will attempt to overturn the bicycle ban set in place six months ago by the city council in Black Hawk, Colorado – the first known bicycle ban in the USA. Local police have begun issuing tickets of $68 to each person caught riding a bike through town. Bicycle Colorado will host a rally in protest of the Black Hawk bicycle ban held on June 29th at Capitol Hill.

“We believe that it sets a really terrible precedent in the state of Colorado and in other overall states,” said Maggie Thompson of Bicycle Colorado. “In the overall scheme of things, Black Hawk is not an overwhelmingly popular cycling destination, but if this is found to be legal and we don’t do anything about it then this could move on to other places.

"If Black Hawk gets away with it, who’s to say that other cities and municipalities couldn’t make that same decision. Our main concern is to prevent this from happening elsewhere, and to clarify the law so that it is not interpreted poorly.”

The Black Hawk City Council’s board of aldermen voted on the bicycle ban last winter, and it went into effect in January. The board did not consult the local cycling community concerning the ban, and cyclists only found out about it after police began issuing tickets on June 5.

“We felt like the decision was made without any input from the cycling community,” Thompson said. “This is significant because it is the only bike ban in the country that prevents a bicyclist from getting through an entire city. You can’t get through town unless you dismount and walk, but there are no sidewalks and that is a pretty unsafe place to be walking your bike.”

Bicycle Colorado formally asked Black Hawk City Council to lift the ban during their June Meeting. According to the Bicycle Colorado website, the council made it clear that they had no intention of changing their ordinance.

Instead, the council reiterated that the bike ban was set in place for the preservation of health and safety, and for the protection of public convenience and welfare. “They are saying it is a safety issue, but when asked if there had been an increase in crashes, injuries or fatalities there were none recorded in recent years,” Thompson said.

“Many cities and municipalities in Colorado have significant rights over their own jurisdiction," Thompson added. "In Colorado, there are over arching state laws that they have to stay within, but most municipalities can do their own thing.”

“Our question is, do they have the right under state law to ban cyclists outright from that roadway,” she added. “We need to take steps to find out if it is legal and that decision has to be made in a court.”

Bicycle Colorado, with the help of legal counsel, will attempt to overturn the bike ban by challenging each issued ticket. First, the tickets will be challenged in the Black Hawk court, followed by an appeal process held in a court outside of the city.

“In Black Hawk, the tickets will probably stand as it was justly written according to city ordinance,” Thompson said. “But, we will have an opportunity to appeal that ticket on the grounds of state law in a court outside of Black Hawk. That is where the decision will be made as to whether or not that city ordinance was legal under the confines of our state laws in Colorado.”

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