Monday, February 7, 2011

Black Hawk, Colorado bike ban update and action alert. Much revised.

Coming soon to a road near you?
The Colorado House Bill described below, which tries to redress the situation in Black Hawk, CO, might not be an entirely bad idea. In many if not all states, cycling laws and operation can be regulated locally and for every "bicycle-friendly community" that cuts you a break, there is the potential for a Black Hawk.  The Colorado bill tries to make it harder to ban cycling by requiring an engineering study that would justify a local restriction (at least that is my read). Call that half a loaf? Of course, if you read the bill, it says a horse trail is good enough for cyclists. Great win...if you like riding through horseshit on your road bike.

This particular problem, i.e., an outright bike ban or mandatory sidepath ordinance, has not surfaced in NM in quite a while (i.e., since the days of the Rio Rancho mandatory sidepath law, since repealed) but similar situations have surfaced repeatedly in the U.S. (see League link above or this one.) Don't get complacent.

I had earlier doubted that many localities would want to suffer through the trouble of doing a contentious engineering study to show that bicycling is incompatible with other traffic (given that it usually isn't) and then be forced to build alternative rights of way even if they win. Turns out if you read the court transcript posted by Bicycle Colorado, not only did Black Hawk do such a study, but the cycling community may have hoisted itself with its own petard, courtesy of the use (or perhaps misuse), by Black Hawk's consultants, of an FHWA-developed "bicycling level of service" concept (also found here).

Anyway...don't burn your mixed-use tires. You may someday need them. And thanks to MikeonBike and Jon for the wakeup calls.

From the LAB blog:

Black Hawk ban update – Colo. cyclists action needed!


MikeOnBike said...

This reads like a mandatory sidepath (MSP) law. I'm not sure this is much of a solution. Especially since a "horseback trail" is considered a suitable alternate to a paved road.

Note that bicycles are assumed not to be "normal and safe movement of traffic".

Khal said...

I share that concern, but apparently bicyclists in Colorado presently don't even have that much going for them as far as legal protection. I would never have written a bill that tepid if it were me. Thankfully, its Colorado. In its favor, it requires an engineering study before a MSP law could be invoked and an alternative route to be provided, even if a horse trail. I wonder if that ($$$) would deter somplace like Black Hawk.

Jon said...

Doesn't Oregon's mandatory bike lane law require an "engineering study" to be applicable, and didn't a judge rule that simply including a bike lane in the design (with the requisite public meetings, etc.) counted?

Khal said...

The more I read about those "Engineering Studies" the more I am convinced you can "engineer" anything your heart desires.

If you go to the Bike Colorado site and read the court decision, you will see that Black Hawk actually did an "engineering study" based on FHWA guidelines regardling "bicycling level of service". Mind you, "bicycling level of service" is largely fluff and feelgood stuff. Basically some in the cycling advocacy community intended "bicycling level of service" to be a weapon we can point at government, and damned if the thing didn't do a breech-burst.

Steve A said...

The court transcript is very interesting. Absent some standard for the engineering study to validate against, the engineering study is an empty requirement.