Today across the country, cities celebrate national Dump the Pump Day by encouraging public transportation. By cutting back to one car, a two-person household can save more than $10.000 a year according to the American Public Transportation Association.
Teams from ABQ RIDE and the Rail Runner are doing their part by handing out goodies on various bus lines and Rail Runner trains throughout the day to promote a car-free lifestyle.
Me, I got a different kind of goodie.
As a bicycle commuter I wear a helmet and look both ways. But, I admit, I occasionally stretch traffic laws.
On June 16 at 9:43 a.m., a motorcycle cop flagged me down. He called me out on a violation of failing to obey the traffic control device at the corner of Silver and Cornell.
As surreal as it was to be standing on the sidewalk with my bike while an officer ran my driver's license through the system, it was even weirder to read the resulting warning notice.
License plate number—BICYCLE
Vehicle year—1900 (actually, 1988, but whatever)
Color—BLU (I'd call it gray and teal with yellow brake cables and red handle bars)
Under the line for make and model there is no mention of my aluminum frame Raleigh Technium other than BK. I think that stands for "bike."
Bicyclists are quick to defend our harmless commuting lawlessness. The truth is if we want to officers on our side, we need to follow the rules or pay the price just like everyone else on the road.
But is it wrong if I'm hoping my next violation is a speeding ticket?
I've been fuming since I read about a totally dick move in my former state.
See, the tiny town of Black Hawk, Colorado (home to a couple casinos and not much else) has begun to ticket people for riding bikes in town. That's right, ride your bike, pay a $68 fine.
Black Hawk's City Manager, Michael Copp, says the ban is due to safety reasons, even though there hasn't been an accident involving bikes yet.
It's been years since I've been to Black Hawk, but the traffic there is awful. Basically, imagine a bunch of cars creeping along old-timey roads as they make their way to casino parking lots. And since this is Colorado we're talking about, by cars I mean giant SUVs. Oh, there are also enormous tourist busses thrown in the mix, because why drive to Black Hawk when you can hop on an air conditioned bus and avoid the windy mountain roads.
I'll be honest, I'm not the type of cyclist whose likely to ride through a town like this--heading up mountains without gears is no fun--and I think it's probably terrifying to do so. But citing safety seems like a big smelly load of BS. The kind of people who drive all the way up Black Hawk to gamble seem to me (note the strong editorial bias here) to be the kind of people who think bicyclists shouldn't be on the road at all. A couple of bikes here and there probably scares the crap out of them, even though they're moving at a snail's pace through town.
My biggest issue is the ban itself, whatever the reason. The chain-reaction that could come from this negates all the good work bicycle advocates have been doing in the last few years. It's always going to be somewhat unsafe to ride a bike on any road (just like it's kind of unsafe to drive on any road), but that doesn't mean making biking illegal is a good answer.
Worried about safety, lower the speed limit, put up "share the road" signs, offer bicyclists alternative routes. See, there are tons of ways to let everyone win. An outright ban is backward thinking. I sure hope Colorado bike advocates invade the town, get off their bikes in the middle of the streets and shut down traffic altogether. If biking is so dangerous, maybe driving should be banned and everyone should just walk.