Revise Law about Bicycling on the Sidewalk

Not allowing bicycling on the sidewalk therefore discriminates against bicycling by effectively prohibiting cycling on the Broadway and Canyon corridors. While cycling on a sidewalk is generally a very bad idea (due to the inability of cyclists to safely interact with pedestrians), this is the price that Boulder must pay as long as Broadway and Canyon continue to be utterly inhospitable to on-street cycling). A shocking amount of street mileage in town center Boulder is off-limits to bicycling.

Boulder has gone back and forth on having a law that prohibits sidewalk bicycling. Apparently there is a history of reckless, high-speed, dangerous bicycling on Boulder town center sidewalks, which has obligated the City to prohibit sidewalk bicycling to protect pedestrians. However, I understand that this law is not enforced unless the cyclist is clearly bicycling recklessly. As noted above, bicyclists are often obligated to ride on sidewalks due to the hostile nature of major Boulder roads. In addition, a great many bicyclists are not aware that the prohibition on sidewalk bicycling is only enforced against reckless bicycling.

Given this, the City should revise the sidewalk bicycling law to clearly indicate that relatively slow and attentive bicycling is allowed on town center sidewalks, and that reckless sidewalk bicycling remains unlawful.

As an aside, Boulder needs to revise its definition of complete streets. The definition Boulder currently uses allows the City to make the bizarre claim that Broadway is a “model” Complete Street (ie, a street that does well in accommodating all forms of travel). The definition states that if there are bicycle facilities within a quarter mile parallel to the street, the street can

complete_streets_comparison

be considered “Complete.” This definition gives a false impression that Broadway is “complete” and therefore needs no modification (such as a road diet) to be Complete. The creation of Complete Streets does not necessarily require the expenditure of money to build facilities or buy right-of-way. Often, a street can be made more Complete by simply allocating the ROW space differently, so that less space is allocated to cars and more space to bikes, pedestrians, or transit.

About Dom Nozzi

Urban designer, Complete Streets instructor, smart growth specialist, town planner, walkable streets and bikeable streets and trails specialist, writer, editor, public speaker, world adventurer, skier, kayaker, SCUBA diver, bicyclist, hiker, dancer, book reader, cook, urbanist.
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