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City sidewalk riding ban being enforced

May 03, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown residents had mixed reactions Friday to a recent increase in enforcement of a city law that bans bicycles, skateboards and other non-motorized types of transportation from some sidewalks and parking lots.

Hagerstown City Police said this week that after several resident and business complaints they began enforcing a recently updated city code by confiscating bicycles from those who ride them in prohibited areas.

"This is to protect pedestrian traffic," said City Police downtown squad leader Lt. William C. Wright III. However, he said he did not know of any recent injuries resulting from people disobeying the no-sidewalk riding rules.

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As of March 28, when the most recent updates went into effect, the off-limits area is enclosed by Church Street, East Avenue, and Mulberry, Baltimore and Walnut streets.

The law says bicycle riders, skateboarders, roller skaters and scooter riders on sidewalks in the designated area can have their mode of transportation confiscated for a month and can face a fine of up to $1,000.

It is also illegal to ride on other city-owned property, such as parking lots and the downtown parking deck, Wright said. Riders should walk their bikes or carry the skateboards in the designated areas, he said.

If a foot-powered vehicle is confiscated, Wright said, owners younger than 18 will need their parents to retrieve their property.

So far the city has confiscated about a half-dozen bikes since April 25, Wright said.

Wright also said that bicycle riders should also be aware that state motor vehicle laws apply to them when they're riding in the street, including traffic signs, one-way street signs, and drinking and driving laws.

But while some residents agreed the new efforts made streets safer, others said the police efforts were unfair to children.

We Care Neighborhood Watch president Tom Lowman said he's glad to see the enforcement initiative. The watch group's boundaries cross over the no-bike boundaries.

"Now (the law's) got teeth in it," Lowman, 75, said this week.

But others thought the new enforcement isn't fair to children looking for ways to play.

"So what are they supposed to do?" said Lynn Bender, 38, of Mulberry Street. Bender said not riding bikes is just one less thing in her neighborhood for kids to do after school. A basketball court by a nearby church was recently closed as well.

"They're taking everything away from them," said Bender, who said her son is a skateboarder.

Lenny Morris, 64, of Mulberry Street said he didn't have a problem with people using bikes or anything else on sidewalks, "so long as they respect the elderly people."

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