What’s wrong with this statement?

City Manager Mike Copp said the reason for the rule, enacted in January, is safety.

The roads in Black Hawk are narrow and do not have shoulders. They teem with tour buses and delivery trucks that feed the bustling casinos. Demanding that those trucks provide 3 feet of space when passing cyclists — as required by a 2009 Colorado law — means trucks and buses must move into oncoming traffic, Copp said.

“We saw the conflicts going on with buses and with trucks, and we decided to be proactive on this,” Copp said, noting that no accidents prodded the ban. “We don’t want to be the city that knows we need a traffic light but waited until someone gets killed. This is what our city believes is best for its citizens, its businesses and its guests.”

From Bicyclists want to derail Black Hawk’s ban.

Have at it…

22 replies
  1. Mighk
    Mighk says:

    Not to try to put words in Mr. Copp’s …. OK, actually I AM putting words in Mr. Copp’s mouth:

    “Used to be we could look the other way when large trucks and buses passed bicyclists in an unsafe manner. But now with the 3-foot law we’d have to cite them. So we banned bikes. And we can’t have 10 mph bicyclists holding up traffic in a 15 mph zone.”

  2. Eric
    Eric says:

    I was trying to remember where, around here, we also have such narrow streets with a curbed median.

    Then I remembered:

    Must be some new planning technique.

    In defense of the City of Orlando, they did install a trail near it (and without the little stop signs all over the place), but it is not the same and not as quick as what the motorized vehicles get.

    • Laura M
      Laura M says:

      Nothing prevents cyclists from riding in the travel lane, though I agree, there’s no reason why the lanes had to be so narrow. It was essentially a greenfield site and they had plenty of right of way to still have the median.

      The trail is actually quite functional and has few conflicts since there are no bridges over the lake or something. It’s a multi-use trail and more of a linear park. But at least it’s an option for cyclists and a great amenity for the community. I wouldn’t say that it’s function is for safety or even its primary intent.

      • Eric
        Eric says:


        I’m trying to figure out your post. Are you saying that I am wrong to defend the City for putting in this trail? Or are you saying the trail is wrong and that they should have enlarged the lanes?

        Since nobody asks me, I have to deal with the cards I am dealt. In this case, I can deal with cars honking behind me, or I can use the crooked way trying to dodge the skate boarders and dog walkers. Those are my two choices, do you see another?

        What do you think I should do?

        You ack that the planners could do whatever they wanted to do since everything was a clean slate there. Why don’t you ask your fellow planners what they had in mind for me to do?

        If dare to ask (which I have done), I am treated like an idiot, so I don’t bother to ask anymore.

        If you should ever wonder why citizens become aggravated when trying to talk to planners and refuse to “become involved” in the “decision making process”, then here is an example why.

        • Ed W
          Ed W says:

          Eric said:
          “If you should ever wonder why citizens become aggravated when trying to talk to planners and refuse to “become involved” in the “decision making process”, then here is an example why.”

          The flip side to that, Eric, is when experienced cyclists try to become involved and find their input ignored or dismissed by those professional planners who have their own ideas about bicycling facility design. Their ‘out’ is context sensitive design, which is a blanket excuse to do as they will regardless of any other input – except for those politicians who write the checks.

          • Eric
            Eric says:

            Precisely so Ed.
            The people making all the decisions don’t use the facilities they are passing judgment over.

        • Laura M
          Laura M says:


          I wasn’t saying you were wrong for defending the City from building the trail, I was saying that the trail wasn’t put in place to keep cylists ‘safe’. I was agreeing with you about the narrow curbed lanes. I think the designers were trying to create a boulevard and keep vehicle speeds down. Not a bad idea, but frought with unintended consequences.

          I’d also like to point out that ‘planners’ are a collective group of people made up of engineers, architects, landscape architects and lay people. Like any profession there are good and bad planners – smug planners and open-minded planners. Then there are the politics involved. Pretty much anyone can call themselves a ‘planner’. Hell, half the people here consider themselves a planner. What do you think all this discussion over roadway geometry is about?

          • Keri
            Keri says:

            …and I am headed out for a bike ride with an open-minded planner from the City of Orlando this morning.

            Planners aren’t monolithic anymore than cyclists or even identifiable subsets of cyclists are.

            The unintended consequences of certain designs are what we need to do a better job of articulating. It’s difficult to get the wedge in there now because certain mindsets are entrenched in the profession. But we’re making progress influencing key critical thinkers.

          • Eric
            Eric says:

            If you want to see why I get angry, then the next time you attend a meeting in Orlando concerning “alternative transportation” observe how many of the attendees use said alternative transportation to arrive.

            I used to attend Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee meetings as an observer and I was the only person that arrived that way. Why would they listen to me?

            ‘Course, in NYC, where people walk a lot more, all the city commissioners ride around in city issued cars and have city issued chauffeurs. The world looks a lot different from the back seat.

        • Eric
          Eric says:

          “…and I am headed out for a bike ride with an open-minded planner from the City of Orlando this morning.”

          God love you Keri, but I wonder how it is possible to turn a person that has grown up thinking that bicycles are toys/recreational devices and changing their mind to think that they are transportation devices?

  3. rodney
    rodney says:

    From Wikipedia:

    Bicycling ban

    “As of January 24th, 2010, the city of Black Hawk banned bicycle use on most of the streets in the city, with the city manager claiming there isn’t enough room on the roads for cars, buses, trucks and bicycles.[11] …. …….The ban was prompted by a surge in vehicular traffic following the change in maximum casino betting limits from $5 to $100. Black Hawk City Manager Michael Copp said that the city council, which passed the new law, believes it is best for the casinos and their patrons. The penalty for riding a bicycle through Black Hawk is a $68 fine.[15]”

    This town has 118 residents as of the 2000 census. With land area of 1.5 sq mi (3.8 km2), where is all the vehicular traffic going/parking?

    How many tour buses and delivery trucks can one actually get into such a relatively small land area? Practically leaves no room for the tourists/people of the town.

    Wonder if the 8,537 ft elevation had anything to do with the council’s decision….I’m just saying.

  4. Ed W
    Ed W says:

    Hmmmm…I’m wondering if some podunk town could place a deputy atop a bicycle and have him ride up and down Main Street using his radio to tell other officers when a car passed too close. I’d bet they’d get more in fines that way than by going after wayward cyclists.

    That’s how they do occasional seat belt enforcements around here. A plain clothes cop walks or stands and radios to his co-workers just down the street about the drivers not wearing the mandatory belts.

    Maybe money would be the enticement for change in Black Hawk.

  5. P.M. Summer
    P.M. Summer says:

    “They are singling out one classification of vehicle,” said Charlie Henderson, president of the Rocky Mountain Cycling Club. “I wonder if motorcycles will be next.”

    Sadly, this is the future in many places. Cyclists have wanted it both ways for too long: to be a vehicle, and to be a toy. Municipalities see only the toy, and are willing to build playgrounds for them to operate on. “Bike Advocates” clamor and demand more “toy space”, and this is the result. The choice (as always in so many other areas) is freedom with responsibility, or no responsibility but little freedom.

    National cycling advocates (and governmental agencies) have made the choice for us.

  6. JohnB
    JohnB says:

    The key error in his statement is “must move into oncoming traffic”.

    “This is what our city believes is best for its citizens, its businesses and its guests.”

    Except for those who ride bicycles.

  7. Brian DeSousa
    Brian DeSousa says:

    I’m inclined to disagree with Mighk’s assessment of the thinking behind the ban. The notion that a bicyclist must be passed instantly at any cost is so ingrained in the driving culture, that even intelligent motorists can’t see that bias until it is pointed out to them.

  8. Scott
    Scott says:

    “Demanding that those trucks provide 3 feet of space when passing cyclists…means trucks and buses must move into oncoming traffic, Copp said.”

    Apparently trucks and buses are not required to have functional brakes in Black Hawk. What’s wrong with slowing and waiting for a safe opportunity to pass?

  9. Eric
    Eric says:

    “What’s wrong with slowing and waiting for a safe opportunity to pass?”

    Black Hawk would say “What’s wrong with getting rid of the reason trucks and buses would have to slow down and wait for a safe opportunity to pass?”

  10. Ed W
    Ed W says:

    Black Hawk is not alone:

    “The three-foot language was taken out because some roads are narrow and if you require three feet you might not be able to pass in certain situations and it might put the motorist in danger if facing oncoming traffic,” he said. “And there are situations where more than three feet is required… It’s just a matter of putting the emphasis on passing at a safe distance.”

    And from the lone comment so far:

    “…a specific frame of reference is always better than a vague reference, but requiring motorists to pass bicyclists “at a safe distance from the left” is far better than nothing.”

    Far better than nothing? I think most states already have language requiring that an overtaking driver pass with care since it’s his duty to other road users. Still, I’d argue that any three feet passing law is little more than a feel good measure with no real teeth. In this case, what feeble teeth it had were removed entirely. If you’re not actually hit, it was a safe pass.

    • Keri
      Keri says:

      Maryland solved this conundrum of narrow lanes by exempting them from the three foot law. They also codified the single-witness-suicide-swerve to ensure the gutted 3ft law was meaningless.

      It’s good NY didn’t codify an inadequate minimum distance, but it’s hard to imagine how yet another law specifying passing bicycles at a safe distance adds anything to existing statutes requiring safe passing and due care. But I guess bike advocates have nothing better to do with their time… in a state with a mandatory bike lane and shoulder use law.

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