Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Colorado Supreme Court to hear Black Hawk Bike Ban Case

To keep it from happening here, 
don't let it happen there

Of particular interest to those of us in the West, where roads can be few and far between and the public occasionally cranky. I'll direct you all to Bicycle Colorado for the complete story, which slowly unfolds.

From the BC site:
From the Court's documents, they will hear arguments of the following: 
  • Whether municipalities may ban bicycling on local streets absent a suitable nearby alternative bicycling route.
  • Whether legislation is rationally related to a legitimate governmental interest, and thus a reasonable exercise of police power, when the evidence on which the legislation is based does not address that governmental interest.
  • Whether banning bicycling on the only route connecting Central City to the Peak-to-Peak Highway is a reasonable exercise of Black Hawk's police power.

Once this Supreme Court decision is made, we can see how much damage control needs to be done. If this court overturns the ordinance, that is probably good news for cyclists in other states, who can cite it as precedent if needed, at least at an appellate level. Note that in the successful Selz vs. Trotwood appeal, the appellate court referenced a case not even having to do with bicycling:  Lott v. Smith (1980), 156 Ga. App. 826 275 S.E. 720. (from the Selz appellate decision "...That court held that an operator of a corn combine could not be found to have violated the statute...")

And, of course, this once again reminds us to support our local, regional, and national cycling advocacy organizations, who often end up leading the fight in these kinds of cases. We can bicker all we want, but at times, we need to circle the wagons and make sure the guns are pointing out rather than in.  I like how Warren Devon would put it:


Steve A said...

Interesting about that precedent. It reminds me of what a Texas trial judge said about that in a cyclist's case I attended. I'll do a post on it, but I'd be skeptical of using the case as a precedent outside Colorado, except possibly in an appeal situation. Unless the cyclists lose.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine got busted in Black Hawk. The cops stopped him because he "looked like a hippy." Things escalated from there. He spent a couple days in jail and sustained injuries during the heavy-handed law enforcement tactics. They also gave him a good pepper spraying (apparently the preferred choice of fascists).

I vowed never to go to Black Hawk and I never have. I also let the city fathers know that not a dollar of my extensive wealth would ever find its way into Black Hawk and I told them why. A while after that they came up with the bike ban. It cemented my resolve to stay the hell away from Black Hawk.

The only way to change a town is through its coffers. If no one goes to Black Hawk or does business with them, there won't be a Black Hawk. I'm very surprised there isn't an organized "Boycott Blackhawk" movement already. Maybe there is. There should be.

Khal said...

I think there was a Boycott Black Hawk effort. But I also suspect that anyone reading these blogs wouldn't be spending much time there anyway, except in the way of passing through on the way elsewhere. Probably why they could care less.

Maybe an Occupy Black Hawk effort would be worthwhile.

Chuck Davis said...

The Black Hawk case may well be the biggest case regarding bicyclists to come up to date; a Bicycle Colorado board member's law firm is doing the case pro bono

A note of caution re the comment re Selz and it reliance on the Ga Lotte/Smith/Lotte appeals (three of them!)

The only reason that the impeding statute violation came up was that Lotte (semi driver)asked for a civil jury instruction for negligence per se for Smith's slowing and making the turn when Lotte struck the Smith's combine