Proposed Eureka Bicycle Ordinance

Background Reading

Summary

Sidewalk Riding!

Sidewalk Riding!

We’ve all known the frustration of encountering bike riders who think the rules don’t apply to them. They come barreling toward you on the sidewalk (it’s not called the side-ride!); they ride on the wrong side of the road; and they zip across all four lanes of Broadway like suicidal Frogger maniacs.

These bozos are especially frustrating to those of us who ride bikes responsibly because they give us a bad name.

Case in point, the city of Eureka is looking to crack down on the bozos by establishing a new set of rules that would govern all two-wheeled pedalers in the city. Eureka’s Transportation Safety Commission will meet at City Hall tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. to consider a bicycle operations ordinance that includes a host of proposed regulations.

Among them:

  • “It shall be unlawful to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk anywhere within the City of Eureka [unless you’re younger than 15].”
  • “A person shall not leave a bicycle, except in a bicycle rack.” And if a rack’s not available, you must make sure it’s not blocking a driveway, sidewalk or door.
  • “A person propelling a bicycle shall not ride other than with his feet on the pedals and facing the front of the bicycle.”
  • “No bicycle shall be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed and equipped.”
  • “It shall be unlawful to ride a bicycle the wrong way on a one-way street.”
  • “A bicycle left on public property for a period in excess of 24 hours may be impounded by the Eureka Police Department (EPD).”
  • “A bicycle may be impounded at the discretion of EPD if the operator has been cited more than once by EPD for violation of this chapter.”

And our favorite:

  • “No person riding or operating a bicycle shall perform or attempt to perform any acrobatic, fancy or stunt riding upon any public place in the City.”

Hear that? No fancy riding!

And it’s not just cyclists who would be affected by the ordinance. Another provision states, “Skateboarding, rollerblading, skating and scooters are permissible only in residential neighborhoods when pedestrians are not present within the immediate area.”

The draft ordinance includes a list of “findings” that serve as justifications for the new rules. Reckless cyclists are annoying pedestrians and causing collisions, plus bicycles are increasingly being used “in connection with illegal activities,” the ordinance says. Eureka Police Chief Andy Mills mentioned this proposed ordinance at a public safety meeting last month, saying it’s designed to go after so-called GMOBs, or “grown men on bikes” — those adult dudes smoking cigarettes while they case the scene on BMX rides.

But do the proposed rules go too far? Would they lead to profiling and scapegoating cyclists?

To be clear, this is just a draft ordinance. (You can read the whole thing here.) And the packet for tomorrow’s meeting notes that even members of the Transportation Safety Commission’s subcommittee have concerns about whether the draft is consistent with the state’s vehicle code.

Do you have an opinion? If so, hopefully you’re able to make it to tomorrow’s meeting. Again, it’s 3:30 p.m. at Eureka City Hall.


TakeAways

As the number of cyclists grows in cities around the country so does the problem of outliers who flout the law or whose behavior is such that folks suddenly realize they have no laws on the books by which to curb annoying behavior.

Campaigns are going to arise to find ways to control problem riding. Cyclists are going to need to ‘get out front‘ in places where these campaigns are just. They need to be the ones suggesting what shape ordinances take. That way when something untoward is proposed they are not simply reacting to a situation which they appear to have been ignoring.

Be prepared for lots of younger and more belligerent riders to want to defy the public’s wishes. There are many people who ride bicycles because they find it to be the last activity in which laws have been established. They feel that they have freedom to ride where and when they want. But their actions reflect on everyone else.

We need to decide now before things escalate what sorts of efforts we are willing to ‘get out front‘ on. This part of that ‘shared sacrifice‘ idea. Everyone needs to be on the same page. And that may mean that cycling organizations sit down and craft an understanding of what in general represents responsible cycling and what does not.