In Colorado, something to cheer about – in a 29 page, complex decision the Colorado Supreme Court unanimously holds that Black Hawk’s bike ban conflicts with state law and cannot stand. I would love to see a similar ruling from the Ohio Supreme Court.


Ohio has a “ban on bike bans” – this is something we [the Ohio Bicycle Federation] wrote into the proposed Better Bicycling Bill in 2006, which the legislature passed… unanimously. We also wrote in a provision that allows cities to regulate bicycles but forbids them from passing laws that are “fundamentally inconsistent” with state traffic law.

If you read the Colorado case, you can see how difficult and complex the analysis in these cases can be.  The court’s decision reviews the municipal history of Black Hawk back to its development during the gold rush in the mid 1800’s.  The court traces the city’s progress and incorporation and development and the history of casinos in Black Hawk.  The Colorado court reviews the history of “home rule” in Colorado and the standard of reviewing such cases. The court also reviews the history of bicycle regulation back to the 1880s.

The Court discussed the “Standard of Review” – the tests and rules the court uses to analyze the case – at some length.  Colorado state law mandated that a ban could only be used if there was a suitable alternative route for cyclists to use.  Here there was no such route.  The court framed the issue as whether this was “solely a matter of local concern” or whether state law preempts the city from writing laws that conflict with state law.

Like Colorado, Ohio has a long [and constitutional] history of “home rule” – meaning that local jurisdictions have been free to write their own laws on many topics, including traffic laws and laws governing the use of its roadways. In Hamilton County alone, for example, there are almost 50 “law writing” jurisdictions – which means 50 or so possible variations on “traffic laws” governing bicycling on the roadway.

Prior to 2006, there was a patchwork quilt of varying laws throughout Ohio – the same road could be subject to bike bans as it passed through City A, a partial ban in City B and a mandatory sidewalk rule in City C! City D would then require cyclists to “register” with the Police Chief to ride legally through town…

The 2006 Better Bicycling Bill was written to change all that… to mandate uniformity… to ban bike bans… it works, in theory anyways … that’s never been tested in a court of law so far…

In Colorado, state law, section 42-4-109(11), C.R.S. (2012), actually ALLOWS bike bans – state law  requires any municipal bike prohibition to have an available alternate path within 450 feet.  Here there was no “alternate” path, but Black Hawk tried to argue that it was allowed to ban bikes anyway.
As you can tell from the 29-page Colorado decision this is a long, costly, complex, time-consuming fight.  In Colorado, the three cyclists lost at the trial and District Court level then convinced the Supreme Court to take the case.  The challenged law was passed in 2009, the riders were ticketed in June, 2010 and the final decision is coming out in 2013!

The Supreme Court described the cyclists’ journey through the courts like this

“On June 5, 2010, Webb, Hermanson, and Jeronimus were completing a long- distance bicycle ride beginning and ending in Golden, passing through Idaho Springs, Central City, and then Black Hawk. After riding from Idaho Springs to Central City, the Bicyclists headed south to Black Hawk to meet state highway 119, the Peak-to-Peak Highway. While riding through Black Hawk along Gregory Street, the only street connecting Central City to the Peak-to-Peak Highway, the Bicyclists were pulled over and ticketed for violating section 8-111 of the Black Hawk Municipal Code, the provision prohibiting bicycling on several streets, including Gregory Street, in the City of Black Hawk.

“The Bicyclists filed a motion to dismiss the traffic charge in Black Hawk Municipal Court, arguing the ordinances enacting section 8-111 were invalid because: (1) the ordinances were not authorized and conflicted with a state statute; (2) the bicycle ban was not a reasonable exercise of Black Hawk’s police powers; and (3) the ordinances violated the Colorado and United States Constitutions. The court struck down the “local origin exception” of the ordinances based on constitutional denial of equal protection, but, because it was a severable provision, the other prohibitions of the ordinance survived. The municipal court rejected the Bicyclists’ other arguments, holding that the Colorado Constitution authorized Black Hawk, as a home-rule municipality, to regulate such matters and Black Hawk had not unconstitutionally enlarged its authority by virtue of the ordinances. The court found that Black Hawk’s reliance on an engineering and traffic study in promulgating the ordinance provided a requisite rational basis to render the ordinance a valid exercise of the city’s police power.

The Bicyclists appealed to the Gilpin County District Court, which upheld the municipal court’s ruling. The district court found support in section 42-4-111(h), C.R.S. (2012) (stating that local authorities may regulate the operation of bicycles consistent with Colorado traffic statutes), and section 42-4-1412, C.R.S. (2012) (providing that though cyclists shall have all rights applicable to drivers of any other vehicle, they shall be subject to local ordinances regulating bicycles). The district court also placed reliance on the engineering and traffic study. “


If YOU are aware of any city that has a BIKE BAN in Ohio -please notify me!

In BAY VILLAGE, OHIO for example, the city webpage says

Frequently Asked Questions

“Do I need a license for my bicycle?
“All bicycles are required to have a license in Bay Village. Residents need to stop by the Bay Village Police Department to fill out a registration form. You will need the serial number which is located on the underside of the bicycle between the pedals. The cost of the license is $1.

Bay Village also describes its BIKE BAN as follows:

“Bicycle Riders:
“Experience has proven that cyclists are safe on sidewalks and we encourage all to ride bicycles on sidewalks. However, pedestrians do have the right-of-way and cyclists are required to yield on sidewalks. All bikes used in Bay Village must have a local license, obtained at the Bay Village Police Station for $1.00. This license is valid for as long as you own the bike. For safety reasons, bike riding is prohibited on roadway on the following heavily traveled streets: Clague Road, Columbia Road, and Dover Center Road. (Joggers note: jogging is prohibited on roadway on Clague, Lake, Wolf, Columbia, Dover Center, Cahoon, Osborn, west of Cahoon Road, Bassett, Bradley and Walker Roads.)”

Are these legal? Absolutely NOT in my opinion. They are preempted by state law which bans bike bans.

O.R.C. 4511.07 says:

(A) Sections 4511.01 to 4511.784511.99, and 4513.01 to 4513.37 of the Revised Code do not prevent local authorities from carrying out the following activities with respect to streets and highways under their jurisdiction and within the reasonable exercise of the police power:

* * *

(8) Regulating the operation of bicycles ; provided that no such regulation shall be fundamentally inconsistent with the uniform rules of the road prescribed by this chapter and that no such regulation shall prohibit the use of bicycles on any public street or highway except as provided in section4511.051 [Ed. note: 4511.051 relates to freeways] of the Revised Code;

(9) Requiring the registration and licensing of bicycles, including the requirement of a registration fee for residents of the local authority;”

Of course, “battling City Hall” is a long, costly fight.  To date, no one local ordinance in Ohio has been challenged in the manner that cyclists challenged the power of the City of Black Hawk, CO to ban bikes.

So HOORAY for the 3 cyclists in Colorado- BRAVO for taking on City Hall – for persevering for three years- for fighting the ticket through three court levels and for WINNING the case.  BRAVO as well to the Colorado Supreme Court for issuing such a well-researched and  comprehensive decision.

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  • Khal Spencer says:

    Great news, Steve! thanks for the posting.

  • dale trone says:

    As a former Ohio Bicyclist(25 + yr CCC member), now loving it in CO;. A few things that wouldn’t be as clear to you. Gilpin County is a tiny tiny county with basically one major business casinos (Black Hawk and Central City) so even at the district court level the casino business had major influence.

    A major factor on the bicyclist’s side is Bicycle Colorado, the state wide bicycle advocacy organization. Likely, there are simliar organizations in Ohio and most other states. IMHO Bicycle Colorado has to be one of the best! I recently paid my Bicycle Colroado dues up for the next 10 years,

  • Steve Magas says:

    Thank you for the details. That’s very helpful! GOOD LUCK out there! You need an “Occupy Black Hawk” bike ride now!


  1. Cyclelicious » Colorado Supreme Court overturns Black Hawk bike ban

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