Another Colorado bike ban

Update: I heard from Heaven Fest organizers. Thanks for your attention on this!

This isn’t a city or county government, but a private event. The Heaven Fest Colorado Christian Music Festival at Longmont’s Union Reservoir have banned biking and walking to the event as part of their traffic management plan.”

30,000 or more people are expected to come from all over the Rocky Mountain region to attend a huge Christian music festival in Weld County, Colorado. Union Reservoir, which sits just east of the Boulder County line, is owned by the city of Longmont, Colorado. Most traffic is expected to come in from the east on State Highway 119, although several thousand attendees can be expected to come in from Boulder County as well.

The event on July 31 will generate several thousands of trips, and Heaven Fest planners are spending about $20,000 just on transportation management. The traffic plan, however, encourages motorized vehicle travel to the venue to the exclusion of all other modes of transportation.

“Safety is our first concern,” Heaven Fest organizers explain on their website, but then they spill the beans and reveal their true intent on the final sentence: “So that we can keep things moving fast for concert-goers over on Hwy 119.”

They further explain, “Because the concert gets out around midnight, there are serious concerns about tons of bikes (some without the proper lighting) and pedestrians being released onto County, State and local highways and roads late at night.” How about placing the concern where it belongs, which is with the large motorized vehicles that actually cause the safety problems? When you have a bull in the china shop, do you pack the china away in the attic? Or do you lasso that bull and tie it down?

One of the reasons organizers moved the event to Longmont was because of long waits from people who had to park! PEOPLE WHO RIDE THEIR BIKES OR WALK CAN AVOID THIS PARKING WAIT ALMOST COMPLETELY. More bikes and feet = fewer cars = more parking for everybody else. These traffic planners from the stone ages should encourage biking and walking, not ban it!

I once lived within shouting distance of Union Reservoir just over the county line in Longmont. Event organizers are correct that their location on the edge of town means narrow roads with few pedestrian facilities, although there is a path on the west side of County Line. The solution for this volume of traffic, of course, is for everybody to slow down!

View Larger Map

Weld County Road (WCR) 26 from Deerwood Drive in Longmont is a dirt road that comes into the festival area straight from County Line Road that bypasses the death monster parking area off of Hwy 119 completely. The Heaven Fest organizers acknowledge that WCR26 is the logical place for bike and walking access, but because there’s no crosswalk at that location, they went for the nuclear option and banned human powered traffic completely. They’ll even have volunteer traffic marshals posted along County Line Road to turn back people who try to cross the road!

Here’s a suggestion: You’re already using several volunteer and paid traffic wardens to direct traffic on Highway 119 into the parking area. You already have the goon squad turning those walkers away. Why not put those traffic wardens to good use at WCR26 & County Line Road stopping the real danger — motor traffic — to allow those pedestrians and cyclists to safely pass? It’s not difficult. Here are the advantages of this for you and your event — you:

    (1) ensure safe passage of non-motorized transportation;
    (2) encourage biking and walking to Heaven Fest in Longmont;
    (3) decrease parking and traffic pressure on Highway 119, which especially decreases the pressure of the left turning traffic into the parking arean coming from Boulder County;
    (4) avoid aggravating the east Longmont residents who’d rather walk or bike to the festival anyway.
    (5) BONUS: Better access and traffic flow for those emergency vehicles, vendors and band traffic that will be coming in on WCR 26 anyway.



There’s also a multi million dollar multi use trail that runs all the way across Longmont straight to Sandstone Ranch Park, which is directly across from the Fairview Lane event entry! Gah — Heaven Fest’s transportation plan is so misinformed and — sorry to say it, but — stupid! that I’m literally sputtering with frustration as I type this. Yes, it’s a private event and the organizers can do what they want, but this type of ignorance really needs to be fought. It’s the same mindset behind Black Hawk’s bike ban, or the proposed bike ban in St Charles County Missouri.

By the way, if you’re going to ban *all* bikes because there are “some without the proper lighting” (sheesh!), how about banning all cars and trucks because a good fraction of them have equipment violations? 20% of Colorado drivers are uninsured! It’s a ridiculous non-sequitor to punish an entire population based on the actions of a few.


Permitting was in March so perhaps it’s a little late, but perhaps your voice can make a difference for next year. If you’re so inclined, please let Heaven Fest organizers know how you feel on Twitter and Facebook, or try their email contacts, especially if you live in Boulder or Weld Counties, and especially if you might be inclined to attend at least part of the festivities. Let them know:

  • Banning bike and pedestrian access is unfairly and needlessly discrimantory;
  • The safety and vehicle equipment concerns Heaven Fest cites are more applicable to cars and trucks than they are to bikes and walkers;
  • Encouraging bike and walk access will encourage more local participation;
  • Encouraging bike and walk access will ease transportation and parking issues;
  • Access through WCR 26 is easily handled by stationing traffic wardens on County Line Road at Deerwood / WCR 26.

Union Reservoir is owned by the city of Longmont, Colorado. I’ve already contacted that city’s transportation planners for their commentary, but this is under the purview of the parks department.

The Longmont Times Call agrees with me in their editorial:

If traffic is such an issue, accommodating alternative means of transportation should be a priority. Other major events, even those in high-traffic locations, somehow find a way to safely welcome walkers and bikers. The Mile High Music Festival, which draws thousands of people to Commerce City every summer, even provides instructions on how to find bike racks.


  1. I don't understand how event organizers can ban bicycles on public roads. Or, is it that they're just banning them on the private property where the event is taking place?

  2. They're apparently leasing Union Reservoir, which is owned by the city of Longmont, for the event. Weld County Road 26 is a public road but apparently it will also be closed for event access.

    It's a private event and they can legally do what they want, but the “safety” angle is so ridiculous it needs to be addressed.

  3. Don't expect Xtians to think logically, anyway. They believe in a fairy tale AND they have sucky taste in music. Why would any cyclist go to this event?

  4. I'm a Christian, I like some of the music, and I bike. I know that's true of a large number of my former neighbors in Longmont, as well.

  5. They just finished expanding (widening) WCR 1 – which is the road right off of Hwy 119 – a few months ago, and it extends right up to almost the point of the turn for Union Reservoir. There's a bike lane available for travel in both directions, so this seems even more ridiculous to us “locals.” Ugh! I thought I lived in a bicycle friendly community… part of why I like living here. I'm one of the few who live in Longmont AND in Weld Co, so I think that something really needs to be done about this. I understand that it's the organizer's decision because they've rented the space, but I would think this could be a big turn off to locals and non-locals alike. While I have no interest in this specific event, it's frustrating to see these bans happening around us when so many of us enjoy riding for transportation.

  6. Similar to how the City of Los Angeles closed Griffith Park to cyclists during the annual holiday lights display, citing concerns for safety of the cyclists and/or orderly movement of the thousands of cars that back up on the 5 fwy to get into the park.

    This year the city council is cancelling the light festival because it would disrupt construction of a new parking lot.

  7. They're requiring people to pollute in order to attend a Christian music festival? That sounds highly immoral…

  8. Clearly if God had intended to have us walk, he would not have provided us with SUVs and so much oil!

  9. Seems to me that Weld Co. (I use to be a resident) could limit the road to bicycles only rather than simply close it for the event. How ludicrous. I use my bike when attending almost all of the large events in the Seattle area. It's the only logical way to get around. Event organizers maybe leasing the “park” for the event, but when a public road is impacted, there are either government policy or politics is at play. Sounds to me that there needs to be some serious bicycle activism.

  10. @Seattle: I dug some more. The city approved Heaven Fest's permit last March. I don't know Longmont's transportation advisory committee or Bike Longmont were invited to submit their comments (when I participated in both of those organizations, the city parks department routinely passed these types of proposals along to us), but for future permits I'm gonna ask them to ensure this doesn't happen again. Make bike & walking access a *required* portion of any large event transportation plan.

  11. Maybe we should point out that we're merely stewards of this earth, not conquerors who trample it. It's says that in a book somewhere, I seem to recall.

  12. Kind of ironic that the Dude they claim to be following did quite a bit of walking Himself!

  13. …one of those situations where contrived logic supersedes actual common sense…

    …sorry but no deep thinkers in that community's admin…

  14. I can't believe that no one has brought this up yet.

    This is very simple, though sad, and typically politicized example of the continuing culture war in this country.

    The Christian right is very much aligned with the powers that support Oil and private vehicle transportation, auto rights and are vehemently (often violently) anti-bicycle. And walking? That sounds like more “enviro-hippie leftie crap”

    These are the same people folks. No one should be at all surprised.

  15. I can't believe that no one has brought this up yet.

    This is very simple, though sad, and typically politicized example of the continuing culture war in this country.

    The Christian right is very much aligned with the powers that support Oil and private vehicle transportation, auto rights and are vehemently (often violently) anti-bicycle. And walking? That sounds like more “enviro-hippie leftie crap”

    These are the same people folks. No one should be at all surprised.

  16. To be fair, Christians are hardly unique when it comes to large festivals that draw a large number of people from long distances to the middle of nowhere by car. *shrug*

    As I hinted in the update, I doubt the planners though of bikes and walkers one way or another until they were advised by the law enforcement agencies they consulted in their transportation planning. They're willing to dialog with stakeholders, and local advocates didn't see this opportunity when this came under discussion with the city beginning in January or so.

  17. It feels great to seek out this kind of an fascinating topic on the internet like thisAuto Transport Quotes these days. I was significantly interested with what you’ve shared and posted with us. Thanks for this anyway.

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