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Sharpsburg bans bicyclists from sidewalks

June 07, 1999|By JULIE E. GREENE

SHARPSBURG - In 20 days, bicyclists will no longer be able to ride their bikes on Sharpsburg's public sidewalks.

Sharpsburg Town Council members voted 5-0 on Monday night to ban bikes, in-line skates, skateboards and other play vehicles from all town sidewalks.

The new law will allow police, at their discretion, to confiscate bikes of violators. Confiscated bikes would be kept at the town garage and it would cost $15 to retrieve them.

Town officials raised the possibility of banning bikes from all sidewalks last month after receiving complaints about reckless bicyclists and youths playing chicken with motor vehicles by jumping in and out of the street on their bikes.

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"We need to do something and be firm about it," Mayor George Kesler said.

Kesler said enforcement will be complaint driven. "We're not going out on a witch hunt," he said.

Washington County Sheriff's deputies will educate youths about the law before confiscating bikes, Kesler said.

The current law states bikes are not allowed on sidewalks within 200 feet of Town Square or the post office.

Town Attorney Charles Wagaman said the courts don't interpret bike bans such as the one the town passed Monday night to affect children 5 and younger.

Councilwoman Denise Troxell said a class from Sharpsburg Elementary School wrote letters about the proposed bike ban. Their suggestions ranged from creating a bike lane in the street to building a wall down the middle of the sidewalk separating pedestrians and bicyclists.

Troxell said most of them expressed concern they could get hit by a car if they were banned from riding their bikes on sidewalks and instead rode in the streets.

Town officials said the youths could ride their bikes in the alleys.

But the alleys don't run everywhere in town, said Ethan Churchey, 13.

Churchey and some of his friends were hanging outside Town Hall on Monday night asking how the council acted on the proposed law. None of them attended the meeting.

Ethan McCoy, 18, said a deputy has already warned youths not to ride their bikes on the brick sidewalks around Town Square.

McCoy said he'd rather ride his bike on dirt anyway.

Councilman Russ Weaver suggested the town sponsor a bicycle safety lesson for area youths to teach them about the helmet and traffic laws.

Council members Troxell, Weaver, Hal Spielman, Ralph Hammond and Patti Hammond approved the ban.

Vice Mayor Sidney Gale was absent during the vote.

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