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Archive for Tuesday, April 11, 1995

LAW BANS SIDE-BY-SIDE BIKING

April 11, 1995

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A recent protest ride highlighted a city law requiring bicyclists to ride single file on city streets, alleys and sidewalks.

Jim Turner was a little surprised when he heard about the law that says bicycle riders can't ride side by side within Lawrence's city limits.

Turner, president of the Lawrence Bike Club, said he heard about the city ordinance last week.

"We had no idea there was a law on the books that you can't ride two abreast," he said.

Turner said that the bike club has, on occasion, ridden two abreast, then moved into single file when traffic approached.

Turner said he thought Lawrence adhered to the state's standard traffic ordinance regarding riding on roadways and bicycle paths.

That ordinance says: "Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles."

However, in 1983, the city amended that ordinance to read: "It shall be unlawful for any person riding a bicycle upon any street, alley or sidewalk to ride abreast of any other person riding upon another bicycle."

The law came to light on April 4, when a pair of bicyclists were cited at 23rd and Tennessee for riding two abreast and not having their bicycles registered.

The pair were leading a group of about 20 bicyclists who were holding a protest ride to promote safe passage for bikes and walkers through auto traffic.

According to the Lawrence Municipal Court, the fine for riding two abreast is $15, plus a $21.50 court cost. The fine for not registering a bicycle is $1, plus $16.50 court costs.

Turner said the protesters were not connected with the Lawrence Bike Club, which promotes sharing the roadway with vehicles.

However, the citations alerted him to the city ordinance. He said he planned to talk to police about the ordinance.

"I would like some clarification before we get at odds with the Lawrence Police Department, because we have a very good relationship with them," he said.

Lawrence Police Lt. Dan Affalter said he thought the city might have amended the state ordinance 12 years ago because it was contradictory -- the standard traffic ordinance also said a bicyclist must ride as near to the right side of the road as is practical.

"It seems obvious if you're going to ride two abreast, you're not riding as close to the side of the road as possible," Affalter said.

Turner said bicyclists have no formal advocacy group in city government. But that may change soon.

Wayne Byrd, an Overland Park member of the League of American Bicyclists, is working with local bike enthusiasts and city staff members to have Lawrence recognized by the group as an official Bicycle Friendly Community, which would include setting up an advocacy group.

"We're trying to work within the system," Turner said. "We don't have to go out and block traffic to get what we want."

  • On the Road Warriors: Have any questions/concerns/peeves related to streets or traffic? Call the J-W Access line at 865-5000, enter category 7485 and leave a brief message.

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