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How does your town say ‘No Bicycles?’

by Ted Johnson

I managed to forge a cycling purpose into a non-cycling vacation in August, 2011, using the brute force of a big-ass 1996 GMC camper van.

Here are the posts: Vapid Transit, Snap Judgements, How to Blow $20 in Boulder, Public Art You Can’t See from a Car, and How does your town say ‘No Bicycles?’


In retrospect, this photo taken in Loveland, Colo., captures my vacation:

Bicycles and Liquor in Loveland

Note that the bike shop is closed, and the liquor store is open.

I’m not a heavy drinker. Really. In the ten days I was away, I spent more waking hours drinking than cycling–but that’s not saying much.

But in visiting a handful of towns in Colorado on car and on foot, I became curious about the psychological impact of signage. When a municipality puts up a sign that says No Bicycles, is the subtext, No bicycles, because we hate you, or is it, We love bicycles, just not right here?

Even bike-friendly cities such as Salida, kind of bungle this.

Here’s a selection:

Salida No Bicyles Stencil

Salida, Colorado

Dismount Zone

Durango, Colorado

No Wheels, No Pets, Dismount Bikes -- Boulder, Colorado

Boulder, Colorado

How does your town say ‘No Bicycles?’ If you have a photo you’d like to share, send me a note using our contact form.

Trinidad

One of our final stops on the way home was Trinidad, Colo. Absolutely nothing bike-related happened during our few hours there.

My wife and I had lunch at a cafe. I had my laptop, so we watched an episode of South Park set partially in Trinidad.

Carnagie Public Library, TrinidadOur main purpose in Trinidad was to stop by the Carnagie Public Library and drop off two boxes of Korean-War-era newspapers from a now-defunct Trinidad paper called The Morning Light.

If you search online about The Morning Light, not much comes up about this newspaper. If you exclude the word “Tobago,” you’ll get better results, but still not much information. In your Google search results there will be obituaries for people who worked for the paper. One will be for a man with the same name as me. That’s my father. And that’s why I happened to be in possession of two boxes of The Morning Light. When he was in his 20′s and fresh out of college, he was the editor of that paper.

I posed for this picture with the library staff when I dropped off the boxes. By coincidence, I was wearing a Commute by Bike t-shirt.

Look, Dad, I’m an editor too.

And that’s all I have to say about my vacation.

 
Burley nomad 229

11 Responses to “How does your town say ‘No Bicycles?’”

  1. josh says:

    A lot of the no bicycle signs are in areas of high pedestrian traffic where bicycles don’t really belong.

    • Ted Johnson says:

      The question is How, not Why.

      What I appreciate most about the Durango style, is that it communicates an acceptance of bicycles overall, while telling cyclists to dismount.

  2. Chuck says:

    Ted,

    Your question is based on the assumption that there IS a subtext. What’s the subtext of the no parking sign down the street? Is it because they hate cars? Or, they like cars, just not in your neighborhood?

    • Ted Johnson says:

      That’s a good point, Chuck. You made me reconsider. On reflection, though, the subtext may not be intended. Take Salida for example. The “No Bicycles” stencils are so crude and amateurish, I almost believe that they were put there in the dark of night by vigilantes.

      “No Parking” signs are pretty unambiguously directed at a particular behavior (parking), and not a a particular vehicle or the user of that vehicle.

      The ubiquitous “NO” symbol is an awfully convenient shorthand, and is well understood. I’m not trying to imply that it always implies hostility towards the thing through which a slashing red line is drawn. However, I certainly appreciate seeing creative alternative signage without that red slash.

  3. JohnnyK says:

    I agree with Ted. It’s how they inform you of the rules. The sign in Durango is not rude or threatening and does not give cyclist the feeling that they are not welcome while the others can be interpreted as both. Like the old idiom “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar”.

  4. JohnnyK says:

    Chuck, I don’t like the no parking signs either. Honestly municipalities should at least be polite. Being demanding should not be proper etiquette even if you are in charge. Our society today is not very civil towards each other.

  5. Max says:

    There is a sign at a shop in my neighborhood that says “no skateboards, no bicycles” that is literally hung over a bike rack.

  6. norm says:

    My town says “no bicycles” by abruptly ending the bike lane at a freeway onramp and forcing a merge into a right turn lane at the busiest intersection in town.

    I like the Durango sign, too. Of course, I kind of like Durango. I hope to ride the narrow-gauge steam train up to Silverton some time, that looks like a load of fun!

  7. Bryan says:

    That’s how Copenhagen does it.

  8. JB says:

    Signage and psychology is a very interesting area.

    One of the stark contrasts that impressed itself on me when I moved to Canada over 10 years ago was the signage for truckers. In the USA: “NO JAKE BRAKES”. In Canada: “PLEASE REFRAIN FROM USE OF ENGINE BRAKES.” Honest!

    Municipalities have the power to inflict penalties to get the desired behaviour. But often enough, a well-phrased request is more effective.

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