Bikes off Sidewalks

A necessary strategy in most urban areas, which is examined in the Sacramento Bee.

An excerpt.

Sacramento officials are formulating a new rule that would allow bicyclists to ride on city sidewalks except in busy pedestrian areas where signs would be posted banning bikes. Repeat violators of the ordinance could pay a $250 fine.

A proposal discussed Tuesday by the City Council’s legal committee would prohibit cyclists from riding on sidewalks in the downtown core and along some midtown corridors.

The plan, still a work in progress, represents an attempt to overhaul the city’s archaic and confusing bike rules. The existing ordinance bans bikes from sidewalks, but offers the confusing exception for cyclists in “residence areas.” The ordinance carries a fine of only $5.

Hilary Abramson, a central city resident who was seriously injured when hit from behind by a cyclist on a 15th Street sidewalk last year, said she appreciates the city’s efforts to make its rules clear, but pointed out that cyclists and pedestrians don’t mix. She said she wants to see a day when bicycles are banned from any sidewalk in the central city.

“This is a first step,” she said after a City Hall hearing. She challenged the city to look more broadly than just the downtown core for high-pedestrian areas where cyclists may be a danger to walkers. “I can see it going all the way to Broadway.”

Bicycling advocates, conversely, argue that the city should be careful about kicking cyclists off the sidewalks until it has done a much better job of creating safe cycling lanes and zones on central city streets.

Sacramento downtown planner Fedolia Harris said he will bring a draft ordinance to the City Council for potential approval by the end of the year.

Harris said he has not defined a no-biking area, but is considering sidewalks from Third to 16th streets and J to N streets, with extensions that would include the J Street corridor beyond 16th Street and perhaps other midtown areas, such as R Street. He said he will ask stakeholders and interested parties in the coming weeks to offer ideas about where else cyclists should be banned.

Harris and Councilman Jay Schenirer said the ordinance could be written in a way that allows residents in the future to nominate areas for consideration for a ban, and the zone could be expanded if city officials see conflicts between cyclists and walkers.

“It allows us to be flexible,” Schenirer said. “It’s not one-size-fits-all.”

The proposed ordinance would increase the fine for cyclists to $25 for a first offense, $100 for a second and $250 for a third.

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About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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