Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bikes/Skateboards on the Square

This Tuesday will be a "hot time in the ol' town tonight" at the Woodstock City Council meeting.

What's up?

You can plan on angry neighbors from Fremont Street and the Dean St. School areas.

Count on opponents to the razing of Grace Hall on the former Todd School property, now the home of Woodstock Christian Life Services.

And the City Council chamber will probably be filled with kids and skateboards, because the City Council will most likely vote to expand prohibitions against bicycles and skateboards on sidewalks around the Square. (Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

From today's Northwest Herald, Page 1B. "Bikes and skateboards have not been allowed on the sidewalks of the Square for 31 years, a city official said." Oh, really? Which City official said this? Why not name him?

Thirty-one years? You don't say. I guess you wouldn't really know that from the number of bicycles ridden on sidewalks around the Square.

There might be some tolerance of 7-8-9 year-olds on bikes on the Square. But how about the 15-16-17-18-19-year-old ruffians who think they own the sidewalk? Who force pedestrians to step aside as they ride by?

Currently, bicycles are only prohibited on the sidewalks immediately surrounding the Square and not on the side streets or the extensions of the streets. How will this change?

If the ordinance is approved as proposed, skateboarding and riding bicycles on the sidewalks will be illegal on all sidewalks of the four main streets around the Square; i.e., Throop, Church, Jefferson and Calhoun Streets. But not the sidewalks of those four streets. The shaded streets shown existing bicycle restrictions on sidewalks. Solid black lines show the proposed expansion of bicycle restrictions and addition of skateboarding prohibition to all - solid lined streets and shaded streets - the sidewalks thereof.

This means that bicyclists will have to ride in the street and obey traffic laws (keep to the right; stop at stop signs; signal turns; have lights at night; yield to pedestrians.

How many tickets has the police department written on the Square for sidewalk violations? Any? Or does the police department's Community Service (non-sworn, non-armed) Officer write these tickets? Or is it a City Code violation that is not enforced by police, but instead by the Code Enforcement Officer?

The kicker in the whole deal (aside from the spelling of "activies" in the second WHEREAS) may be one phrase in the second WHEREAS paragraph, which reads in its entirety:

"WHEREAS, the City of Woodstock has previously determined that it is reasonable and appropriate to prohibit the riding of skateboards and the riding of bicycles, as well as other activies (sic), at certain locations in the Park in the Square as well as adjoining streets and public sidewalks"

Could this phrase - "as well as other activies (sic)" - be enough to cause the entire ordinance to be constitutionally vague and therefore unenforceable?

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