Little Town, Big Mistake

A Different Kind of Bike Map

The little town of Black Hawk, Colorado didn’t know what it was bargaining for when it banned bicycles from many of its streets; the decision is making waves throughout the bicycle blogosphere, and reportedly the city is being deluged with e-mails from bike advocates around the country. The rationale for the ban? “Safety”. Here’s how City Manager Mike Copp put it:

“If you go down Main Street there is not much room for a bicyclist, a bus or a car, a truck. We are trying to promote safety…. It’s a choice. We made our choice and now the bicyclist needs to make his or her choice.”

We all know that riding in automobiles is far more dangerous than bicycling; perhaps they could have banned cars instead (fat chance). If you happen to be riding through that part of Colorado, beware; the fine for bicycling in Black Hawk is $68.

If you’d like to voice your opinion on this matter, contact City Manager Mike Copp at

More at Cyclelicious
More at Austin on Two Wheels
More at Bicycle Colorado
More at Biking Bis
More at LAB
More at Biking Toronto
More at
More at The Denver Channel
City of Black Hawk

17 Responses to “Little Town, Big Mistake”

  • Jay says:

    So frustrating. Some people you just can’t reason with.

    It’s all a matter of what you’re used to, and people who are used to one specific lifestyle can have a very hard time comprehending that there’s some other way. People from “car country” view bikes as strange, and not for transportation, generally. People from bike-friendly or urban hubs are used to them around. It’s whatever’s normal. Trying to convince one side that they should change to the other just won’t happen, not anytime soon anyway.

    I hope the advocacy efforts against this move are successful!

  • Brent says:

    I’m guessing that the law may be pre-empted by Colorado State law, which does not give municipalities the specific right to ban bicycles from roadways. The only authority over bicycles they have under CVC 42-2-111 is this:

    “This article shall not be deemed to prevent local authorities, with respect to streets and highways under their jurisdiction and within the reasonable exercise of the police power … from … regulating the operation of bicycles or electrical assisted bicycles and requiring the registration and licensing of same, including the requirement of a registration fee, consistent with the provisions of this article.”

    Much depends on whether “regulating the operation” includes outright banning. If such a case goes to court, it’ll be interesting to watch.

  • Helton says:

    Well, it seems at least this politician is going to have the opportunity to keep a good time occupied thinking about bikes and traffic. He stepped in the wrong spot of a minefield! Heh.

  • jim says:

    They always say it’s about safety. And it’s never about safety.

    It’s about people finding bikes annoying, and not likeing people that ride them, and wanting to stick it to them somehow. Nothing else.

  • Tim D. says:

    It seems so silly because it’s a tiny little town. How in the world could bicycles be a “safety” issue in a one horse town? I grew up in a rural town not much bigger than this in MO, and no one ever complained about people riding bicycles…it’s just ludicrous.

  • Thor says:

    letter written
    why not making those streets one way and allow Bicycles go both ways on ?
    Some of this stuff befuddles me

    Have a gret weekend anyhow

  • WayOutWest says:

    I sent the following email to the Black Hawk community and city government. I urge eveyone to do the same and drive , ride or walk through Black Hawk without spending a penny there.
    Cc: ; ; ; ;
    Sent: Friday, June 11, 2010 8:22 AM
    Subject: Black Hawk Bans Bicycles

    > To the community of Black Hawk,
    > I encourage you to remove the ban of bicycles on Black Hawk city streets.
    > People across the country and throughout Colorado are perplexed and outraged
    > at this action. Colorado is a state that loves bicycles and those who ride
    > them. Have any of you visited other cities in your fine state to see how
    > bicyclists and drivers share the road. I assure you I am both – I ride a
    > bicycle for fitness, errands and vacations. I also drive an SUV on those
    > same roads. Black Hawk has become the “non-Colorado town” in a time when
    > communities should be inventive and do everything to embrace tourism and
    > economic recovery.
    > I have cancelled by summer visit to your area and am encouraging everyone I
    > know to pass on Colorado (in particular Gilpin County). Going back to Idaho
    > instead where I met incredible people and small communities who welcomed my
    > bicycle and my SUV.

  • Ron says:

    Note to self:

    Bypass Black Hawk, Co.

  • Justin says:

    The tiny town of Blackhawk is one of only two towns in CO to allow gambling. There is practically no other business in town, no non-casino community to speak of. Almost all the people on the road are tourists coming to gamble, driving up from Denver in cars or on the casino buses that form an almost constant chain up the canyon. The roads are extremely narrow and are packed with people either speeding to or swerving home from casinos. So there probably is a safety concern; and there’s absolutely an economic interest in “smoothing the road” between Denver and Blackhawk for all the gambling traffic.

    Furthermore, the town is isolated and remote, and is practically the “end of the road” as far as cycling is concerned. South of town the highways very quickly become far too dangerous for cyclists; in 15 years driving them I’ve only ever seen a handful of miserable bikers that way.

    Of course none of that addresses the principle of the thing, which I imagine we all agree on. Just explaining why, at least for one Coloradoan, that neck of the woods is considered a sacrifice zone.

  • Lovely Bicycle! says:


  • voyage says:

    I’ve never been to Black Hawk, Colorado.

  • bongobike says:

    Who wants to go to some dinky gambling town anyway? Bet you there’s nothing else to do there either. Let someone else throw their money away.

    Here’s a tip, Black Hawk (sorry Paul):

    Black Hawk gambling in the dead of night
    Take your broken streets and learn to ride
    All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arrive
    Black Hawk ride
    Black Hawk ride
    Into the light of the dark black road

  • Carolyn I says:

    Well, I’d never go there. I wonder how much tourism business they will lose because of this? I emailed them telling them that I would never go there to visit, or even drive through, and that I’d be telling all my friends to do the same.

  • Jim says:

    @Justin, thanks for the insight. We on the internet pretend we know everything, but in reality cycling in Blackhawk, from Justin’s comments, sounds wholly unappealing and dangerous. Creating infrastructure costs money, money that can be better spent elsewhere if there aren’t enough cyclists to justify its cost.

    As much as I’d like to see bicycles take over the world, and at the risk of voicing an unpopular opinion here, the city of Blackhawk may have made the right decision for their community.

  • Rick says:

    I completely agree with Justin: as much as we’re offended by the lack of access, it’s a, “no bike” zone for a reason–that anything that interferes with getting fools to the casinos and back is seen as anti-business, and nothing more…and enjoying the beauty of Colorado (I lived there briefly in the 70’s and can’t imagine what it looks like now) by bike just isn’t a concern. Since they don’t care about our joy, let’s not care about their business, and go around.

    If they don’t want us, let’s not go. Simple as that.

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » Blackhawk and Bike Advocacy? I Don’t Think So says:

    […] might remember Blackhawk, CO as The City That Banned Bicycles. Well, in a bit of exquisite irony, Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists, […]

  • Stephane Mahe says:

    Looking on with bewilderment from Scotland.

    This so called ‘ban’ on cycling smacks of one thing and one thing alone – INTOLERANCE.
    What next for the axe? People who don’t gamble? Skateboarders? People who walk or who want to cross the road? (keep them in the house, that’ll be much safer)

    Unfortunately for Colorado, most people will not remember the name of this small town and its egotistical ‘leaders’ and Colorado (such a wonderful State) will be tarnished.

© 2011 EcoVelo™