Moms want safe area for bike riding

July 14, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

SHARPSBURG - Two Sharpsburg-area mothers expressed concerns at Monday night's mayor and Town Council meeting about where their children can safely ride bicycles, scooters and skateboards.

The issue of where children have a right to ride has been a recurring one in town in recent years because children and their parents want them to be able to ride, but some residents have complained about reckless riding, trespassing and damage to personal property.

"I just need to really know where these kids can ride," said Carolyn Exline, who lives in town and whose two youngest children ride a scooter and a skateboard.


Town Attorney Charles Wagaman said they can ride in the alleys and streets, but must obey traffic laws.

Town law prohibits riding bicycles, skateboards, in-line skates, motor scooters and other play vehicles on sidewalks, private property, parks and playgrounds operated by the town, and parking lots owned, leased, operated or maintained by the town, except for designated riding areas.

Violators may be fined or have their vehicles confiscated.

The law exempts tricycles and other play vehicles with three or more wheels that are being used by small children under the supervision of a responsible person.

Exline said a woman told her they couldn't ride in the alleys. In spring 2003, a man sprayed the children with water from his hose as they were riding in an alley.

"I'm tired of the grumpy old man and grumpy old woman who forgot" they were once children, said Terri Schildtknecht, of Potomac Valley Farms. Her son rides a BMX bike.

People used to ride their bikes to their grandmothers' houses and back, she said.

"These kids aren't hurting anything. They're playing," Schildtknecht said.

Unfortunately, irresponsible actions by some have led to laws that aren't particularly convenient, Wagaman said.

Exline said that when she took a friend and her young children to use the playground equipment at the town park recently, the 2-year-old was attacked by wasps in a tire.

Schildtknecht suggested using the money that usually goes to the park for a better use, such as blacktop on which kids can ride.

A year ago, town officials decided a skateboard park was too big of a project for the town and the town didn't have the land for it.

In addition to the issue of insurance coverage for the park, Vice Mayor Ralph Hammond said those parks can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Plus, youngsters don't like them if they are fiberglass, he said.

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