Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I don't believe it.

I just spotted this article in the Seattle Times: Black Hawk, Colorado has banned bicycles.



Why? Because the streets are narrow, and the town is full of casinos and therefore overrun with tour buses in the summer months. (Never mind that it's also on a very popular touring route, and cycling is a big thing in Colorado. I understand that gambling dollars trump whatever money you can squeeze out of banana-packing, camelbak-wearing Lycra-clad cyclists.) They claim that "...the [State] Legislature, at the prodding of cycling groups, passed a law in 2009 requiring that motorists give bikes 3 feet of space if passing. That would force traffic in parts of Black Hawk to veer into the wrong side of the road..."

Oh nos! Three feet of space! The wrong side of the road! Wait, when I'm driving and passing a cyclist, I pull out into the oncoming lane (given there's no oncoming cars in said lane) pretty much any time I can. So do many other motorists I know. Oh, and wait, I just spent a couple of weeks this summer in Scotland, where if you get outside the towns, most roads are only one lane - and a narrow lane at that, almost too narrow for an American SUV, with virtually no shoulder. What do Scottish motorists do when there are bikes using the roads? They slow down, treat the bike like any other vehicle, and wait until they get to one of the widened "passing places" before pulling out past the bike and moving on. And - get this - none of them suffers convulsive head implosion from the enforced deceleration.

Now, the town of Black Hawk apparently has a population of a little over 100, but enough casinos to warrant being very, very nice to the tour buses. If the town is that size, couldn't the tour buses park on the outskirts, and the gaggles of happy gamblers walk to their casinos of choice? Or take the free tram line that is already in place? Or maybe, since Colorado is a cyclists' paradise, maybe Bixi or some other bike share company could set up a rack of share bikes in the parking lots. The gamblers could get a taste of life in Colorado, and a little fresh air before setting up shop in front of the slot machines. Black Hawk could even put in a water bar where at the end of their grueling half-mile journey, they could get designer water and hand-picked bananas or locally-formed energy bars. It's a win-win.

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