Bikes banned in Colorado town roads

The town of Black Hawk, Colorado banned bicycles from most of its local streets. And Black Hawk Mayor David Spellman — who won the mayoral election unanimously in 2008 — is a drunken wife beater who consistently ranks as the most corrupt public official in Colorado. Really.

To “promote safety” (pinheads! idiots!), the casino town of Black Hawk in the Colorado Front Range has banned bikes from local streets. Police have been ticketing cyclists riding through town since the ban became effective last January 2010.

As Austin On Two Wheels notes about the safety angle:

Safety. Yeah. Right. Do you know what the number one cause of accidental deaths in the US is? Cars, not bicycles. Do you know the leading cause of all deaths? Heart disease brought on a sedentary lifestyle that involves driving everywhere you go. If they really cared about the health and well being of their citizens, Black Hawk would ban cars, not bikes.

The city of Blackhawk website is down as of this writing, but the city’s (apparently official) Facebook page brags about the “many transportation options” in Black Hawk.

Mayor David Spellman, incidentally, seems like a real character. In 2006, he was convicted of felony assault after he pistol whipped his wife — beating her several times in the head with a .38 and then shooting three times in a drunken rage — during a domestic dispute, though the felony assault conviction was dropped after Spellman completed the terms of his sentencing and probation. In 2008, the Colorado Bureau of Investigations determined that Spellman personally received more than $1 million in state historical funds that were meant to preserve and restore the historical character of Black Hawk (the town council approved the purchase of land from Spellman using the state funds); the former town manager was forced to resign. In 2009, Spellman purchased the local newspaper that was critical of him and fired the editor. Mayor Spellman consistently has topped the “Most Corrupt Public Officials list in Colorado. He and the town he represent seem like real gold mines.

Other responses:


  1. IIRC, freedom of travel is a guaranteed right. Their law banning bikes is probably illegal in itself and would be shot down by the judge.

  2. Black Hawk is now officially the arm pit of Colorado. Black Hawk is an old mining town that's had a pathetic Playschool version of Las Vegas crow-bared into it. The entire canyon the town sits in has been raped with wall to wall casinos and hotels. The only thing I could compare it to would be building a Circus Circus in Rocky Mountain National Park. I'm not even upset they passed this law, the place is full of drunk driving gamblers and it would suck to ride there anyway. At least I have a proper excuse to never to go there again.

  3. Wait, so since cyclists are now banned from using certain roads, that means they aren't obligated to pay taxes that go to the upkeep of these roads, right?

  4. Too weird, Chris Romer, Colorado state senator (district 32) is an very avid cyclist — ask him about his new 29er, or his school-based initiative to get kids more active in the state by riding bikes… seems to be a conflict there. Personally, if I were a (what do they call people from Colorado? Coloradan/Collards/Colleys/Radonians/Loradans?) citizen of Colorado, I might query this specific senator about Blackhawk's unusual bylaw.

  5. So I'm still not clear whether Black Hawk banned bikes from streets used by cars, or created a heavily used pedestrians-only area they don't want people riding bikes through? Very different things.

    And how is this really different from the many states that ban bikes from any road not marked with a bike lane?

  6. Rather unfortunately, it an excellent place to ride. The public parking lot at the end of a ride is a rough climb but otherwise, it was a great place to start riding on the Peak to Peak highway to Estes and made a good destination to ride up Golden Gate Canyon out of Golden, CO.

  7. Thanks to contextual advertising I get a giant display ad for FIREARMS TRAINING INSTITUTE on your blog when I view this article. I guess they figure if I'm reading the words pistol and .38 then I must want to see gun advertising.

    I wish we had as much clarity around the actual specifics of the ban as we do on the mayor's personal life, though.

  8. I don't see the ad now, but those personal defense ads have been popping up all over the place on a wide variety of topics. I think they cast the net pretty wide, even matching on “bicycle” or related terms.

    Actual specifics of the ban? Bikes are prohibited from Gregory Street, Main Street, Richman Street, Mill Street, Miner's Mesa Road, Bobtail Street, and Selak Street's, which means you cannot travel through town at all. Cyclists must stay on State Highway 119, which is under CDOT control, and completely bypass the town. There's a provision in the town ordinance that “bicycle traffic that originates locally” can “continue to operate with City Manager authorization,” though from what I've found this authorization hasn't been given to the single cyclist I've managed to find in that town (who was stopped and given a warning on a DIRT ROAD with NO TRAFFIC on the edge of town — I'll post more about this later).

  9. Hi there,

    Love the blog.

    Thanks to your info, I just sent an opinionated email to the city manager of Black Hawk, which I can reproduce if anyone is interested.

    In addition, I just called City Hall and spoke to a very nice woman who answered the phone. She said one of the reasons for the ban is a state law requiring drivers to give bikes 3 feet of clearance when they pass, which is impossible on their narrow streets. I replied that if the streets have a 15 m.p.h speed limit, there is no reason bikes can't just keep up with cars and become part of the traffic.

    I also mentioned to her that BECAUSE of the publicity her town is receiving, I know know that her town's mayor is a wife-beating felon who stole 1 million dollars from the state. She said that the Colorado board of investigation never found anything regarding the theft, and that the mayor was never CONVICTED of a felony. I mentioned to her that that didn't exactly matter, the fact was that all of this was getting exposure as a direct result of the bike ban, and that I was a fellow American who objected strongly to this ban.

    All in all, she was very nice and said that people had been calling and yelling at her all day, which is not right since she didn't make the law. She also mentioned that some others had called in support of the ban.

    I will stay tuned. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

    I'm hoping that embarrassing publicity causes the town to reverse this law and makes other towns in the U.S. think twice before taking similar action.

  10. Thanks for that report, Daniel. It's too bad people are yelling at the poor woman.

    The felony conviction for assault came after a plea bargain, so I don't know what the claim that he was never convicted is about, unless she's just talking about the public funds investigation.

    Oh, here it is: “If Spellman completes his probation, the felony charge of menacing will be dropped.” How about that — I'll need to edit this post.

  11. It clearly has zip, zero nada to do with safety or anything else. Perhaps a favor given to somebody and/or an elegant expression of wielding power to put cyclists (either specific or general) in their place.

  12. Finally, a solution to the “two-wheeled fascist” problem. Other cities should follow suit–especially some of those cities where “Critical Mass” has become such a fashionable activity for these sniveling cycle-nazis.

  13. typical Arrogant American attitude – one that will continue with the lower gasoline prices Americans are experiencing. Sadly in the bigger picture, coming in the next natural down cycle of the American economy, lies the greater depression! Oil shortages can so happen again in America, and preparation for them by diversifying means of transportation diversification should start now, while we have the oil to effect the change!

  14. maybe the biggest danger to bikers in black hawk is the drunken mayor- maybe they really did mean it for the protection of bike riders- Ya think? Not

    hbc in Katy Texas- cross country bike rider

  15. I hope our town does this. We have the same problem with bicyclist infestations on hilly and curved roads. Bicycles should not share roads that have a lot of no passing zones. Most bicyclists are out exercising, practicing a hobby, usually not in the community where they live. They go into strange communities and make life worse for the residents.

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