Gambling town bans bikes
BLACK HAWK - People can go into the casinos and win while playing slots, blackjack or roulette. But if they ride their bicycles down most of the streets, city officials say it is a guaranteed loss.
"The idea behind it as you can see when cars come by, there's really not a lot of room for bikes," Mike Copp, city manager for Black Hawk, said.
In January, the city council passed an ordinance banning bikes on most of the town's streets, especially the main thoroughfares. Copp says with all the busses, trucks and cars already trying to crowd the historic town's narrow streets, the addition of bikes is a hazard.
"This city council is looking out for the best interest of its citizens, its businesses, which are the casinos and its visitors who is the gamer," Copp said.
Some bike enthusiasts believe the law is unfair. Police are ticketing cyclists riding through town giving them citations that carry a $68 fine.
"It's a public road. It should be open to all the uses allowable for roads," said Dan Grunig, executive director of Bicycle Colorado.
Bicycle Colorado is a nonprofit advocacy group for cyclists. Grunig has launched a grassroots effort through his website to try to convince Black Hawk officials to overturn the ban.
"No other city in Colorado has done such a blanket ban of bicycles like this," Grunig said. "That's why Bicycle Colorado is very concerned about it because we don't want it to set a precedent that other cities would follow."
Grunig says the ban cuts off the only way to go from the Peak to Peak Highway to the Central City Parkway.
"If you're trying to get somewhere by bike and you're unable to do it, it's closed off a whole section of the state to you," Grunig said.
If safety is the main reason, Grunig wonders why considering that Black Hawk has not had a bike-related fatality or increase in bike-related accidents.
"We're trying to be proactive on this," Copp said.
Copp points out that people can still bring their bikes through Black Hawk. They just have to dismount and walk about quarter mile before continuing on. There are signs posted around towns showing that bikes are prohibited, but none of them specify people can walk their bikes.
Copp says although people from around Colorado and across the country have expressed disapproval over the new measure, he says Black Hawk residents and businesses support it.
"We have not had a citizen come to us and say, 'My kid or I feel hampered by this, I cannot ride my bike,'" Copp said.
He says the city may grant permits to those who do need to ride regularly through town to go to work or school, for instance. They may be allowed to go down streets other than the main ones if there is a need.
In the meantime, Grunig says he and his group will do what they can to fight the ban. He worries that it may start to affect tourism and groups trying to organize bike-related events in Colorado.
"When they hear that there's an entire town that bans cycling, that doesn't look good for Colorado," Grunig said