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Bike problems have plagued other towns

May 06, 1999|By JULIE E. GREENE

Sharpsburg is not the first town in Washington County to toughen its bike law or give police the ability to impound violators' bikes.

But while towns like Smithsburg, Williamsport and Funkstown have laws allowing Washington County Sheriff's deputies to impound bikes, town officials said they couldn't recall it ever happening.

The Smithsburg Town Council approved a bike law in 1997 that allows police to impound bikes, said Mayor Tommy Bowers.

Back then the town was having problems with teenagers flying down sidewalks on bicycles going 30 mph and almost hitting people, Bowers said.

Since the law was enacted the problem has gone away, he said.

Sharpsburg Town Council members are considering broadening a ban of bicycles from sidewalks after receiving several complaints of bicyclists playing chicken with motor vehicles by jumping on and off sidewalks into the street.

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Williamsport Mayor John Slayman said he recently saw a youth jumping a new handicap ramp near Town Hall with a bike, damaging Town Hall's slate porch.

Williamsport was having such a problem with skateboarders six years ago that the Town Council passed a law banning them from town, Slayman said.

Washington County Sheriff's deputies ended up impounding several skateboards back then, Sheriff Charles F. Mades said.

"They've knocked people down, broke a few legs, ran into senior citizens," Slayman said. Since then the problem has died down, but Slayman said he occasionally sees youngsters try to get away with skateboarding on the sidewalks.

Hagerstown City Police have impounded several skateboards lately, but no bikes, said Capt. Robert Hart.

Skateboards are getting to be such a problem in Boonsboro that town officials are planning to enact a law prohibiting skateboards and in-line skates on public walkways, Town Administrator Eldon Jones said. The town's bike law doesn't cover skateboards or in-line skates, he said.

When it comes to impounding bikes or skateboards Mades said deputies try to educate people about the law first, handing out warnings.

The sheriff's department's property room is already full of bikes that people don't claim just from deputies picking up abandoned bikes, Mades said.

related story:

-- Law would ban bikes from Sharpsburg's sidewalks

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