Supreme Court overturns Black Hawk bike ban

City must provide alternate paths for bikers

BLACK HAWK, Colo. - The Colorado Supreme Court overturned the city of Black Hawk’s ban on riding bicycles Monday.

The court ruled that bicycle laws are a matter of both state and local concern. The city may pass traffic regulations, the court ruled, but they must comply with state laws.

Colorado state law requires that cities provide an alternate bicycle path within 450 feet of a zone that prohibits cyclists.

The city of Black Hawk banned bicycles from many streets where community leaders believed the safety of cyclists and drivers to be compromised.

The city posted signs that showed an image of a bicycle with a red line across it to denote zones in which bicycles were prohibited. Violators were issued warnings or ticketed.

The ban sparked controversy among Colorado bicyclists, who have contested the law since its implementation with the help of Bicycle Colorado, an organization that seeks to provide resources and improve conditions for cyclists in the state. Several Colorado lawmakers opposed the ban, threatening to sue the city in 2010.

On Monday afternoon, the city released this statement:

"Surely it is no surprise that Black Hawk is very disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision to overrule the two lower courts prior rulings on the validity of the bicycle ban on Black Hawk commercial streets.  The City will, of course, comply with the ruling.  The City remains concerned that it is dangerous for bicycles to safely negotiate the commercial streets due to the volumes of vehicular traffic and the narrow right of way and steep grades.  The City will continue to look for alternatives to address these important safety concerns.   The City has no plans to construct any special accommodations to address this issue."

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