Cycling: Longmont considers ban on bikes downtown, advocates oppose strict enforcement
Based on safety concerns and the potential for crashes in a congested corridor, Longmont officials are considering a ban on biking downtown through a so-called "dismount zone" that would require cyclists to get off their wheels and walk their bikes. And while cycling advocates aren't opposed to encouraging safer behaviors, some say they are worried about a new enforcement policy that could lead to unfair fines for those who choose not to drive.
In a state where cycling is an increasingly popular mode of transportation, especially in urban centers, these kinds of debates are becoming more common across Colorado, especially with concerns about the growing number of collisions.
While there is a lot of debate in Denver around crashes between cars and bikes as more cyclists use the city's streets, in Longmont, it seems that the discussion is centered on the potential for crashes between bikes and pedestrians.
"We occasionally get complaints from merchants or visitors...[who] say they were almost run over by a bike...or there's been some near-misses," says Kimberlee McKee, executive director of the Longmont Downtown Development Authority, which is considering a possible dismount zone. "One of our goals is to make downtown friendly for all kinds of modes of transportation."
Facebook, Bicycle Longmont Bicycle Longmont sign at Balltown on 82.
Unlike in Denver, it is legal for cyclists to ride on the sidewalk in Longmont, she notes.
McKee says that the city is in the early stages of collecting information about this problem in anticipation of possibily sending a proposal to the city council, which would have to approve any kind of new ordinance.
Scott Conlin, a board member with Bicycle Longmont, the local advocacy group, says that he wants to be sure officials better understand the scope of the problem before putting in any kind of policy that could be unnecessarily harsh toward cyclists.
"If there is an issue with people riding their bikes too fast, then we're [in favor of]...trying to curb that behavior and make sure it's a safe place for cyclists and pedestrians and everyone," Conlin says. "But our board's perspective is not to go directly to an ordinance immediately."
Continue for more on the debate around a possible dismount zone.