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Towns with invalid bike laws

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Erica

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Sep 7 2011 at 8:20pm #

http://bikelaws.org/neo-bikelaws.htm#N%20Ridgeville

here are some of the laws regarding bikes+traffic for my home town. I don’t know how to behave there, since a lot of the streets I use there are about 45mph.

I would feel really, really weird using the sidewalk.

I couldn’t find the actual laws regarding bikes, just the ones that are invalid.

should I just find a route with slower traffic? would anyone just use the sidewalk in this situation? It’s pretty common for people to ride on the sidewalk in my town, because bicycling isn’t seen as a viable form of transportation there (though the town is less than 25 square miles)…


edmonds59

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Sep 7 2011 at 9:17pm #

Awful. Those are some pretty messed up cycling laws over there, in many municipalities. I rode around Ohio for like a hundred years and never rode on a sidewalk beyond about age 14, never got hassled. Not sure what the atmosphere is like over there currently though. It’s bizarre to me that local ordinances can have laws that violate State vehicular law.

The really crappy part is that particular municipality says they can impound your ride. Somebody needs to challenge that shiznit, but I don’t think you want to be the one to do it. I don’t know what to tell you. I’d say, find the lowest traffic route available to use, which I would do regardless, and just ride the road. If you get stopped, beg mercy and comply.

The good news is that Fred Oswald guy, the author of that, seems to kick ass. A dang rocket scientist advocating for bikes!!


Erica

Private Message

Sep 7 2011 at 9:21pm #

woah, didn’t even notice that. that is totally sweet.

I basically have to avoid the one road that will take me to all the places in town that I’ll want to go to :-/ Oh well.


jkp1187

Private Message

Sep 7 2011 at 9:22pm #

@edmonds59:

The people who get A’s in law school become professors and teach the law.

The people who get B’s become judges and decide the cases.

The people who get C’s become attorneys and make the money.

The people who get D’s go to the legislature (or city council) and write the laws.


Erica

Private Message

Sep 7 2011 at 9:23pm #

also:

“At no time shall a person under the age of eleven years operate a bicycle on a street.”

lol, most side streets where children live don’t have sidewalks on them.


Erica

Private Message

Sep 7 2011 at 9:34pm #

So I went to the city’s website and I’m sending an email to someone (mayor? Safety service director? law director? parks & recreation?). I’ll include the link as well as what it says, and the following:

“Hello,

I am a North Ridgeville native who has been living in Pittsburgh for the past 5 years, and I’ll be back in town for a week this October.

Here in Pittsburgh, I commute via bicycle to nearly everywhere I need to go, because it’s so inexpensive, convenient, safe, and good exercise. I’m bringing my bike with me when I visit the town, and looked up a few laws regarding bike traffic. I couldn’t find all of the laws regarding such, but I did find this website (link).

This is a site that lists outdated bike laws for towns (when comparing them to state laws). I was very sorry to see that my hometown received an F minus rating when it comes to this area. Encouraging road cycling for a primary, or even secondary means of transport is a great way to get people moving and increase a sense of pride in one’s town (you see things while cycling that you’d miss while driving, after all).

All that aside, since I’ll be getting around via bicycle this October, I was wondering what the best practices for me to follow would be – how can I get around safely without riding on the sidewalk, and creating a dangerous situation for myself and pedestrians alike?”

PS: I was going to ask this question on a Cleveland-centered cycling message board, but there doesn’t seem to be one. Just one reason I like Pittsburgh better – great resources!


edmonds59

Private Message

Sep 7 2011 at 9:43pm #

Excellent letter!

Also, Lorain County is trying to publicize itself as an active “multi-sport” destination, which is excellent. But someone there might be interested in your concerns as well. http://www.backroadsandbeachesohio.com/


Erica

Private Message

Sep 7 2011 at 9:47pm #

double-sending.

There is a drop menu on the “email us” form on the city’s website, though, to choose who to address the email to. I have no idea who to pick:

http://www.nridgeville.org/contact/

any Ideas?


rsprake

Private Message

Sep 7 2011 at 9:49pm #

Streets, traffic signals and signage? The mayor?


Erica

Private Message

Sep 7 2011 at 10:01pm #

well, the message was too long, so I sent a shorter email explaining that my original message was too long, but I had a few questions for the traffic director, and if I could email them directly, it would be great.

also, I did successfully send the message to the site bill posted.


ejwme

Private Message

Sep 8 2011 at 4:17pm #

it’s a bit late, but I’d avoid telling the mayor of one town that you like another town better. it’s true, and s/he will figure it out, but to flat out say it…

I’m sure it happens all the time and they’re properly politic to weather it well and see what they can do to fix it.


ejwme

Private Message

Sep 8 2011 at 4:20pm #

oh, and it would be totally awesome if police had to impound ALL vehicle operators for any infraction, not just bicyclists. Heh, roll as top sign? IMPOUND. Speed? IMPOUND. I can just see the incredulous faces stammering and sputtering now.


Mick

Private Message

Sep 8 2011 at 4:49pm #

@ ejwme …impound ALL vehicle operators for any infraction

That would be one way to eliminate the culture of disregard for traffic laws.


Erica

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Sep 8 2011 at 7:43pm #

I definitely made it sound as though I miss my town and want it to be great. While I do hope for it to improve, and I like visiting, I really just want to ride in the street. (And I must say that Pittsburgh is my home now)

anyway, I finally got my message sent to someone “important” in the city. Hopefully I’ll get some kind of answer. If they say I have to ride on the sidewalk, than I’ll do it, but I won’t like it. I will print out whatever response I receive and carry it with me when I ride, though. That way, if I get hassled by any kind of traffic cop, I can show them that I am behaving as I was instructed.


StuInMcCandless

Private Message

Sep 8 2011 at 7:52pm #

I’m wondering how much of the stupidity we endure from the occasional motorist is because that motorist grew up in a town like this and thinks the rest of the world thinks like that.

I’m real tempted sometimes to bike into one of those towns, dress myself up in my orange vest and blinkies to the wazoo, and just ride up and down the streets all day until someone calls me on it, take the town to court, and get the law changed.

Cue Anne Feeney. (Here’s a little rowdier version.)


Erica

Private Message

Sep 12 2011 at 7:55pm #

Progress!

Back Roads and Beaches, which Bill recommended, responded with what looked like a generic form reply, but they also sent me some literature and a bike map or NE Ohio in the mail, which is pretty useful for the coming trip.

I e-mailed the Chief of Police and two Law Directors in my town (once I got their e-mail addresses), and actually got a great response!

From the Police Chief:

“I can assure that officers on this police department will not cite/seize your bicycle for not having a license or registration (I can’t recall it ever happening in my seventeen year career). In addition, we have many bike enthusiasts on this police department who understand that it is not practical or safe to ride bikes on sidewalks and bikers have the right to use the roadway. This is where departmental common sense prevails and the realization that this ordinance is outdated. I do agree the ordinances need to be eliminated and made current with the state law. Welcome back and peddle away!”

And one of the law directors sent this:

“Your “mosquito bite” may have been very effective. We are currently reviewing and reconsidering.”

Still gonna print the email and carry it with me, though, just in case.


edmonds59

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Sep 12 2011 at 8:03pm #

Wow, that make me feel some confusing warm fuzziness in my cold cynical little heart!


ejwme

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Sep 12 2011 at 8:08pm #

That is so awesome. VERY COOL. You’ve done a Very Awesome Thing, congratz!


Erica

Private Message

Sep 12 2011 at 8:20pm #

I only JUST realized what the “mosquito bite” was referring to – my email signature changes a lot, and when I sent the message above, it was:

“If you think you’re too small to be effective,

you’ve never been in bed with a mosquito.”

— War Resisters’ League


ejwme

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Sep 12 2011 at 8:23pm #

HA – fantastic (and appropriate) quote :D


Marko82

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Sep 12 2011 at 8:24pm #

I like the tone of both responses, they sound like real people :-) Let us know how thing turn out.


Erica

Private Message

Sep 13 2011 at 10:11pm #

Got another freaking awesome email from the other law director (the one that didn’t reply yesterday):

“Ms. Peters:

I am the Law Director for the City of North Ridgeville. I am not sure if you have been informed at this point, but in response to your email, I have begun the process of repealing (removing from the City’s codified ordinances) all of the local legislation that imposes licensing and registration requirements for bicycles, and more significantly also removing the laws which conflict with the State statute (originally HB 389 of 2006) concerning cycling on public streets.

The simple fact is, your position concerning the existing law is correct; I believe the City should act to update antiquated laws within our code, and this instance presents an opportinuty for us to do so while at the same time hopefully encouraging a healthy, environmentally friendly means of transportation and recreation which I for one believe cycling to be.

I appreciate and applaud your efforts to bring this to the City’s attention. You should expect to see legislation (ordinances submitted to our City Council) within the next 30 days. I invite you to contact me either through this email address or by phone at 440.—.—-. if you would like to discuss to matter further.

[Law Director]“

I replied with:

I have to say, I am extremely impressed by the swift action I’m seeing happen here – I never would’ve expected anything to happen so quickly! I have to say that I applaud the efforts of everyone I contacted!

I heard from my younger brother about the tragedy that happened in Elyria with [a 14-year-old who was struck in traffic and killed], and I really hope that this type of change in the law, making it a well-known fact that bicycles belong on the road, can prevent such terrible events from happening in the future (Though there needs to a raised concern by all road users – cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists alike – to slow down, pay attention, follow the law, use turn signals, and wear a helmet/seat belts and use proper lighting).

Thanks again for addressing my concerns! It really is refreshing to correspond with legislative officials who care about how people perceive their safety – even if that person doesn’t live in the town anymore.

Erica Peters

“We can do much more together; it’s not so impossible.”

-Sufjan Stevens


Tabby

Private Message

Sep 13 2011 at 10:24pm #

wow, how about that! way to go.


Nick D

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Sep 13 2011 at 10:40pm #

Wow. They sound like some pretty down to earth people.


Erica

Private Message

Sep 13 2011 at 10:55pm #

I definitely shared this correspondence with the guy who did all the research that went into the website from the first post. I thought he might like to know that his work paid off in some way.


StuInMcCandless

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Sep 14 2011 at 12:40am #

Just awesome. This calls for a song! “What Can One Little Person Do?” by Sally Rogers


Astrobiker

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Sep 14 2011 at 12:55am #

Huzzah! Very cool. Making the world a better place, one small town at a time. Congratulations.


HiddenVariable

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Sep 14 2011 at 2:02am #

man this is like the best thread ever. great work! it’s hard to believe it’s so easy, isn’t it?

I definitely shared this correspondence with the guy who did all the research that went into the website from the first post. I thought he might like to know that his work paid off in some way.

great! i was going to suggest doing this (or do it myself, i suppose). not only to let him know that his hard work paid off, but to let him know that individuals can push things in the right direction with only the slightest effort. it’s a great encouragement to see what a few well-written and thought out emails can do.

well done, indeed!


Marko82

Private Message

Sep 14 2011 at 2:18am #

Ohio wins? Really?

Good job!


cdavey

Private Message

Sep 14 2011 at 2:55am #

Erica — You saw a problem, you took the bull by the horns, and you done good with it.

Congratulations!! A wonderful piece of bicycle advocacy work.

P.S. Besides having the law on your side, your letters were wonderful — coherent, concise and articualte, professional and positive. Just what they needed to be to get a positive response to the request you presented.

Again, you did a great job of bike advocacy. Thanks.


Erica

Private Message

Sep 14 2011 at 11:34am #

I got a response from the guy who made the website, it’s full of great resources!

“Thanks for your really nice message. And thanks for helping to improve conditions in NE Ohio.

The response from the Police Chief and Law Directors is encouraging.

I have developed some model ordinances that might save the city some work and may help avoid errors. These are available from:

http://bikelaws.org/Model-Muni-Code.htm

In addition, I wold be happy to answer any questions or consult. My contact info. (besides email) is:

[removed]

When the city makes improvements, I hope that they will give me the details so that I may update their rating. And if you do not mind, I would like to acknowledge your part in this process.

Finally, if the city wants to do more, the Ohio Bicycle Federation has a Cyclist Friendly Communities award. Information about this, including a “Toolkit” of information is available from http://www.ohiobike.org/obf-cfc.html

Please feel free to forward this message in whole or part to interested city officials.

I forwarded the whole message to the law director a few minutes ago.


ejwme

Private Message

Sep 14 2011 at 1:56pm #

WOOT. Story just keeps getting better.

Talk about Good People doing Good Things. I’m totally going to save this thread to pull out as a little pep talk for when anything gets me down. Very, very awesome.


dmtroyer

Private Message

Sep 14 2011 at 7:37pm #

It was my general impression that lots of municipalities still hold archaic, unenforce(d)(able) laws on their books.


Erica

Private Message

Jan 4 2012 at 2:46pm #

I got an email from the law director saying that they’re almost certainly going to repeal the invalid laws on January 17th, at their next meeting, and he gave me this PDF to show which things specifically would change:

https://docs.google.com/open?id=1mEXBNm6Rg4O7XnRMYfH0HtYLWDJmP-sbH620BsDoQIXFJNAjcNozHJc5d2Pd

My mom also told me when I was home that they’re putting in bike lanes on Center Ridge Rd (a 35mph road that has 4 lanes of traffic at more parts, but unfortunately it the most direct route to most places in town)

So next time I go home, I don’t have to worry about much more than packing my bike properly for travel.


bikeygirl

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Jan 4 2012 at 3:01pm #

This is JUST awesome!!!! Congrats on acting on it!! :D


rsprake

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Jan 4 2012 at 3:04pm #

Awesome.


ejwme

Private Message

Jan 4 2012 at 3:07pm #

WOW, but they missed one…

WHEREAS, RubberFactory is found to be an awesome cycling advocate, and…

I may be missing something, but that language looks awesome. It seems very straightforward – we can take the lane.

Nicely done :D


Erica

Private Message

Jan 4 2012 at 3:13pm #

I’m really glad they included “When the lane is too narrow” as a reason to not stay to the right.

It seems that all the surrounding towns have poor policy, hopefully one town changing will have a domino effect of sorts.


Mick

Private Message

Jan 4 2012 at 7:11pm #

Yay, Rubber Factory!

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