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bikes

Black Hawk Blues

By Patricia Sauthoff [ Mon Jun 21 2010 2:53 PM ]

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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.