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To the City of Colorado Springs, CO: Allow Longboarding- a legitimate, safe, healthy, and eco-friendly form of transportation

This petition had 246 supporters


We would suggest the City of Colorado Springs change its laws involving longboards and adopt the following definitions:

 

* A human powered vehicle is a device that can directly move itself under human power on a paved flat surface. This includes bicycles, longboards and similar devices.

 

* A coasting vehicle is a device that is solely dependent on gravity for forward motion. This includes soap box derby car, sleds, and similar devices.

 

* Because of the impact gravity can have on any rolling vehicle (automobile, motorcycle, bicycle, longboard, etc.) use of gravity for motion on roads should not define a vehicle as a coaster. The true test of the definition is whether it is able to move on a flat surface.

 

In addition the City should include longboards in their "Share the Road" campaign and effective efforts be made to educate the public and city employees on the existing state laws.

 

Lastly the City of Colorado Springs, being responsible for the actions of its subordinate divisions, shall issue a public apology for restricting the activities and shall wholly embrace longboarding as a legitimate, safe, healthy, and enviromentaly friendly form of human powered transportation.

 

To ensure that the City of Colorado Springs acknowledges and acts on the information provided in this document it will be published in all available public outlets.

Longboarding is a legitimate, safe, healthy, and eco-friendly way to travel on public roads. These boards ARE designed for use on public roads. The boards can be human powered on any surface, including flat roads, and are designed to be stable while on a road at higher speeds than a typical skateboard. We request a public hearing in front of the City Council to clarify this issue.

 

Legality of Longboarding in Colorado Springs

Ryan Starr

June 1st, 2013

Dear Mayor Bach and Colorado Springs City Council,

 

It has recently been announced by Scott Abbott, an employee of the Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation Division that he will be enforcing a ban on longboarding on public roads.  I am greatly concerned by this for several reasons.  

 

First and foremost I would like to point out that any prohibition would be in violation of state law, regardless of the city's home rule status. I have attached a document detailing why such actions are a violation.  

 

Secondly, I am appalled that a representative from Parks and Recreation would specifically prohibit visitors from enjoying the parks in this manner.  As a city and state that is very proud of its outdoor activities I would expect a great deal more interest from the city in allowing as many people as possible to enjoy the parks in their own ways.

 

Purpose: 

* To clarify the already existing laws and precedents in the State of Colorado that guarantee the right to travel by longboard on public roads in the State of Colorado, the City of Colorado Springs, its associated parks, and, most specifically, N. Cheyenne Canyon Rd.

* To prevent the City of Colorado Springs- Parks and Recreation Division from prohibiting longboarding in violation of state law.

 

Summary: 

This document will categorically prove the following:

* Traveling by longboard is protected under Colorado Department of Transportation law.

* That the City of Colorado Springs cannot override state regulation by means of home rule.

* That the claim of the road being unsafe for human powered vehicles is unsubstantiated and inappropriate. 

 

Concluding that actions taken by Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation employees (Bob Hawley, Kurt Schroeder, Scott Abbot) and Office of the City Prosecutor (Anthony Moore, Brian Stewart) were in violation of Colorado state law.

 

Background: 

On May 16th, 2013, a group of approximately 30 riders from across Colorado came to travel the N. Cheyenne Canyon Rd. located in Colorado Springs, CO. These visitors were inappropriately stopped by Park Ranger Bob Hawley. This incident has been the catalyst for much debate between riders and the City of Colorado Springs.

 

Section I:

Traveling by longboard is protected under Colorado Law, Department of Transportation statute 42-4-1412. http://www.coloradodot.info/programs/bikeped/bike-ped-manual/2008-10-official-bicycling-laws.pdf/view

This section clearly states that Colorado bicycling laws also cover "other human-powered vehicles". A longboard would clearly fall under this definition as a longboard can move and stop under direct human power without any other assistance. 

 

This language was not always present in Colorado law. In 1935, well before the existence of longboards, Colorado passed the Unified Motor Vehicle Law. This law specifies Bicycles in its language and intentionally excluded the language "devices moved by human power". However in 2010 the State Legislature intentionally changed that language to include "users of other types on nonmotorized wheeled transportation" which would include longboards. 

 

This clear change in language, coupled with the birth of longboarding in the 1970's and the substantial increase of people using longboards for transportation by 2010, indicates that the State Legislature had intentionally changed the language to include longboards and other similar vehicles. 

 

Based on these facts we can reasonably conclude that longboards are a protected form of transportation and have all of the same rights and responsibilities of a bicycle.

 

Section II: 

A document signed by Scott Abbot on May 24th, 2013, states that the existence of home rule in the City of Colorado Springs overrides any state law. The City of Colorado Springs cannot override state regulation by means of home rule. On February 4th, 2013 State Supreme Court Justice Jack W. Berryhill released a court opinion for Supreme Court Case No. 11SC536 Webb v Black Hawk.http://www.courts.state.co.us/userfiles/file/Court_Probation/Supreme_Court/Opinions/2011/11SC536.pdf

The 29 page document makes several references to the role of home rule as it impacts issues of city, state, and mixed concern and concludes that the State of Colorado law can, and in this case will, preempt city home rule in situations where access to public roads are involved.

 

Paragraph 32 of the court document reiterates the Department of Transportation statues 42-4-1412. It also states that the uniformity of law across the state is of vital importance. 

 

Paragraph 45 continues to state that the city cannot, by virtue of its home-rule designation, disregard state traffic laws that the General Assembly intends to be uniform. Colorado's bicycling laws are indeed intended to be uniform as stated by the legislature. "Further, “[f]or the sake of uniformity,” the state makes available to all municipalities the Colorado Bicycle Manual, a comprehensive guide to state regulations concerning bicyclists, complete with illustrations, suggestions, and tips about bicycling throughout the state".

 

Paragraphs 34-37 discuss the extraterritorial nature of such a home rule situation contradicting uniform state laws. Among the concerns listed we can draw on a few that have special significance to the matter at hand. 

 

1991 court case 819 P.2d 1039, 1047 Walgreen v Charnes has defined extraterritorial impacts as those involving the expectation of state residents. If the city of Colorado Springs were to intentionally override state statues intended to be uniform the city would be negatively impacting the expectations of all Colorado residents who understand the state laws. 

 

Additionally, because the initial incident occurred in a popular park that draws visitors from all over the state and even from other regions within North America, the extraterritorial impact on traveling must be taken into special consideration. As demonstrated on May 16th, 2013, longboard riders from across the state have shown particular interest in the park and the innapropriate actions of Park Ranger Bob Hawley have created an extraterritorial impact on out of town riders visiting the park. 

 

Because of the strong negative public perception of prohibiting longboards in the park it will likely cause many events and potential park visitors to bypass the city resulting in revenue lost for the city and local businesses. Longboarding events, which draw participants from all over the U.S. and Canada, have shown great interest in Colorado and the city of Colorado Springs. Negative public perception would directly impact all ongoing plans for such events.

 

Also linked to the negative impact on such a ban, a ripple effect may result in similar policies spreading to other municipalities and further creating a patchwork of local and state laws contrary to the State Legislation's intent.

 

Paragraph 39 discusses the role of home rule as it affects bicycling laws, and therefor other human powered vehicles, within the state. While local laws supported by home rule have played a legitimate role in a handful of cases the state has simultaneously determined the regulation can fall under both local and state law, creating an issue of mixed state and local concern. As stated by the courts Colorado state statutes retain authority to regulate traffic to include those defined under the bicycling laws of Colorado. It was concluded by the Supreme Court that the state has traditionally regulated transportation covered under Colorado bicycle laws.

 

After applying the bright-line rule we can clearly deduce that legal precedent and legislation firmly places regulation of longboards under state control, not local laws. As such any attempt by the City of Colorado Springs to use city ordinance in conflict with the state via home rule is illegal.

 

Section III: 

Statements made by Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation that traveling down N. Cheyenne Canyon Rd. is unsafe are unsubstantiated and inappropriate. On multiple occasions, including the incident on May 16th, 2013, representatives asked for documentation of the road being unsafe for human powered vehicles such as bicycles and longboards. No Parks and Recreation representative has provided this documentation as of the writing of this document. 

 

If activities are to be prohibited on N. Cheyenne Canyon Rd. then the city must complete a traffic report as stated in Colorado model traffic code 42-4-109(11) and find it unsafe for all human powered vehicles. If such an evaluation is completed and the road is determined to be unsafe for human powered vehicles then the city is required to construct a paved bike path within 450 ft of the road. 

 

Based on observation of the infrastructure in the park, the markings indicating bicyclists share the entirety of the road, and the popularity of bicycles riding the road that if any evaluation has been completed it was decided to be safe for human powered vehicles. If a new evaluation is completed and the road is deemed unsafe then a paved trail must be constructed and the use of all human powered vehicles, to include bicycles, would be prohibited on the roads. Such an action could create a significant negative backlash from the community concerning current bicycle traffic, the United States Olympic Committee's future in Colorado Springs, and the environmental impact on the park.

 

Section IV: 

After reviewing the above information we can Conclude that actions taken by Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation employees (Bob Hawley, Kurt Schroeder, Scott Abbot) and Office of the City Prosecutor (Anthony Moore, Brian Stewart) were in violation of Colorado state law. Any effort to enforce a prohibition on longboarding while current legal precedent and state laws remain unchanged shall be halted immediately to prevent violations by the city. 

 

Section V: 

To further resolve any confusion for the future it is suggested the City of Colorado Springs adopt the following definitions:

 

* A human powered vehicle is a device that can directly move itself under human power on a paved flat surface. This includes bicycles, longboards and similar devices.

 

* A coasting vehicle is a device that is solely dependent on gravity for forward motion. This includes soap box derby car, sleds, and similar devices.

 

* Because of the impact gravity can have on any rolling vehicle (automobile, motorcycle, bicycle, longboard, etc.) use of gravity for motion on roads should not define a vehicle as a coaster. The true test of the definition is whether it is able to move on a flat surface.

 

In addition the City should include longboards in their "Share the Road" campaign and effective efforts be made to educate the public and city employees on the existing state laws.

 

Lastly the City of Colorado Springs, being responsible for the actions of its subordinate divisions, shall issue a public apology for restricting the activities and shall wholly embrace longboarding as a legitimate, safe, healthy, and enviromentaly friendly form of human powered transportation.

 

To ensure that the City of Colorado Springs acknowledges and acts on the information provided in this document it will be published in all available public outlets.

 

Conclusion: 

This document has proven the actions of the City of Colorado Springs to be inappropriate and in violation of the state law based on the statements below:

* Traveling by longboard is protected under Colorado Department of Transportation law.

* That the City of Colorado Springs cannot override state regulation by means of home rule.

* That the claim of the road being unsafe for human powered vehicles is unsubstantiated and inappropriate. 

 

This document has also provided a reasonable solution for resolving the issue which includes:

* Adjusting city ordinance language to support existing state laws

* Educate the public on the existing state laws

 

* Publicly apologize for restricting the legal rights of the residents of Colorado



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