CDOT Formally Bans Cyclists From I-70’s Hanging Lake And Eisenhower Tunnels

Coronavirus Summit County Eisenhower Tunnel
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
The west side of the Eisenhower–Edwin C. Johnson Memorial Tunnel on Sunday morning March 15, 2020.

You probably weren’t planning on it, but now it’s official: You can’t ride your bicycle or walk through the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial or the Hanging Lake tunnels on Interstate 70. 

In a unanimous vote, the Colorado Department of Transportation Commission passed a resolution on Thursday formalizing an already existing rule.

“Since the tunnel opened, bicycles have not been allowed,” CDOT’s chief engineer Steve Harelson told the commission.

The state’s attorney general asked the commission to pass the resolution after the Bicycle Passport, a cycling group, sued CDOT in 2019. The group’s mission was to help cyclists ride over 41 Colorado mountain passes of more than 10,000 feet — including the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel. 

The agency turned down the group’s request to close the tunnel to vehicles for two hours on a Sunday morning. Mark Nadeau with Bicycle Passport told the Idaho Springs City Council last year that he anticipated some 1,500 cyclists would turn out for the event. 

“It’s a quest; we’re not just willy-nilly picking [the Eisenhower Tunnel] because we want to cause trouble,” he said then.

But the group lost its lawsuit and has since closed up shop. 

“Combined with the C-19 pandemic, this is a death knell to our small business, and we are liquidating the Company,” a statement reads on its website. 

CDOT’s Harelson said cyclists are generally banned from all interstates unless there is no alternative route. In the case of the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel, nearby U.S. 6 over Loveland Pass is that alternative.