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  1. #1
    Bent_Rider
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    Lawson, Mo. Bike ban

    http://www.mobikefed.org/2004_09_01_...67905360456031

    Lawson Turns Us Away
    September 4, 2004
    A Report from Ed Chasteen

    I am contacting my attorney to ask that he begin the process of bringing suit against the mayor and the town for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. To find out why, read on.

    Since Bush #1 was in the White House, I've been riding the 50 mile round trip from Liberty to Lawson for biscuits and gravy at Catrick's. Hundreds of times I've ridden up to Catrick's front door, propped my bike against the wall, and stepped inside. Thousands of miles these rides have totaled. Thousands of dollars my biking buddies and I have spent in this place of good food and fellowship.

    But not today! Twenty-five of us pedaled east from Biscari Brothers Bicycles this morning a little after seven. Soon we were strung out along H Highway on our way through Excelsior Springs and then to Salem Road, with me in my customary last place. Even if I were not naturally slow, still would I ride sweep on these rides when I have called the group together. I want to make sure no one is left behind.

    By shortly after nine, I'm a couple of miles this side of Lawson when I see a wave of riders coming toward me, headed back where I've just come from. Marvelous! Another big bunch of riders. Our numbers increase. Hold on! These are my riders. They shout something as they fly by. I can't make it out. I spot two riders up ahead, beside the road. It's Seth and Steve. As I come near, I hear them say, "The police turned us back." My blood pressure peaks. I keep pedalin'. "They won't turn me back," I shout.

    I prop my bike along the wall by the door in its customary place. As I step inside, a nice-looking man in civilian clothes identifies himself as Lawson's Chief of Police. He asks me to step outside. He points to my bike. "You can't ride that here. You will have to move it."

    "I've been coming here for years. I've always put my bike here."

    "There's a city ordinance prohibiting bikes on Pennsylvania between Third and Fifth Streets," he says. "Bicycles have the same rights to public streets as cars," I say. "The mayor told you if you would call ahead when your group wants to come, we would rope off a spot for your bikes up the street." He says. "When those who drive cars call to let you know they're coming, then bike riders will, too." I say.

    "Move your bike," he says. "I have Multiple Sclerosis," I say. "This bicycle is my wheelchair. I can't move it. I'm going inside to talk to my friends." I'm talking to Rick Holcomb, the owner, with his wife Catherine, of Catrick's. A uniformed policeman appears shortly and asks me talk to me. We step outside to my bike. The chief asks me again to move my bike. I say no. "Write him a ticket," the chief says to the officer.

    Seth and Steve have walked up as the chief and I speak. They parked their bikes back in the lot where they were told. Seth volunteers to move my bike. I take the ticket and tell the officer I have no quarrel with him. "You have to do your job. I told the mayor he should take down that NO BICYCLES sign and put up one that says SHARE THE ROAD. That's what all the other towns we ride to have done."

    Steve and Seth are sure our other riders have gone back to Mill Inn in Excelsior Springs for breakfast. But we're standing in front of Catrick's, one of my favorite places in these parts. And they have done nothing to make us unwelcome. We go inside and find a table. Catherine appears. I tell her that we had 25 riders wanting to come to breakfast. She is angry when she learns they were turned back by the police.

    "We came back to support you," Seth and Steve say. "I knew you would," I tell them. "I tell Catherine I cannot walk to get my bike and ask her to go tell the police they must come take me to my bike. She does. They won't. Seth and Steve walk over to the police station. They are told they can bring my bike to me. As I'm about to ride off, Catherine rushes out. "We have got to fight this. It's not right. Let's go to the council. I'll email you with the date."

    This problem with riding bikes to Catrick's first came to light back in May when a bunch of riders stopped here for the free lunch they were providing in support of our Greater Liberty Bke Ride for MS. A police officer stopped some riders that day and told them they couldn't ride there. I went to the police station when I heard and talked to the officer. I subsequently talked to the mayor. He and I then exchanged letters on the subject.

    The mayor said the ordinance was passed because local youngsters on bikes were causing traffic problems and near accidents. I told the mayor that a better way to solve the problem would be to teach bike safety in the schools and to alert drivers that the road is meant to be shared with bikers. I told him that bicycle riders have the same right to the road as drivers. I told him I intended to come to Catrick's on my bike as I always had.

    Since May, I have been to Catrick's many times alone on my bike. And our Saturday morning riders have come several times. I had talked to Rick and Catherine about the issue. I thought everything had been quietly and unofficially made to be okay. Lawson is one of five small towns we ride to from Liberty on given Saturdays: Orrick, Excelsior Springs, Kearney, Plattsburg and Lawson. We love them all. And they love us.

    Now Lawson doesn't want us. I will not lead our Saturday riders to Lawson again until this unwise and heavy-handed ordinance is struck down. I will go alone, however. I will not change my routine of some 15 years because the town has inept political leadership that is driving away business and making the town look foolish and backward.

    I am also contacting my attorney to ask that he begin the process of bringing suit against the mayor and the town for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I told the Police Chief that I have MS. That I have great difficulty walking. That my bicycle is also my wheelchair. That I need it close by. He told me to move it a block away. I told him I could not. He said to move it.

    I am also contacting the Missouri Bicycle Federation to alert them to this infringement on the rights of bicycle riders. I am also contacting the Attorney General of Missouri to inform him of this improper Lawson ordinance and ask his help in securing relief.

    I will go to court on October 4, as my ticket today requires. I will not pay any fine. If I go to jail, I will spend my time composing Letters from Lawson Jail, which readers of my web page and emails will find interesting.

    I thought when I went to visit with the mayor in his office that the two of us could agree that prohibiting bicycle riders who come with money to spend is not a policy the business community wants to pursue. I thought we could agree that controlling the bike riding practices of local youngsters can be addressed with more specific measures, such as requiring helmets on all riders, a city-approved bike safety course and an educational campaign to educate drivers to the fact that roads are meant also for bikes.

    P.S. As Seth, Steve and I stand in front of Catrick's following breakfast, three youngsters on bikes appear in the forbidden zone. No sign of police.

    P.S.S. Our Liberty police ride bicycles. No streets in our town are off limits to them. Or to any bike riders. We have found better ways to keep our children safe than to limit bike riders. On the Saturday before the Lawson police turned us our of their town, the Liberty police (and the Mayor of Liberty) welcomed us at City Hall, where we presented them with two brand new police bicycles that we had led our town to raise money for.

    NOTE TO THOSE WHO WANT TO HELP
    The Mayor of Lawson needs to get hundreds of letters urging his city to welcome bicycles and their riders. He needs to understand that I'm not just one crazy old man. Address your letters to

    George Green, Mayor
    City of Lawson
    PO Box 185
    Lawson, MO 64062

    Ed Chasteen is a bicyclist and newspaper columnist for Sun-News of the Northland. Chasteen is a resident of Liberty, Missouri.

  2. #2
    Get outdoors! :) Becca's Avatar
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    That's dated from the first part of September of 2004. It's been four months since then, which may seem like a long time but from a court standpoint is practically nothing. Has anything happened as yet?
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    Enough of fostering fear.
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    Enough of the hate.
    Enough is enough: vote Democrat!

  3. #3
    GT enthusiast midwestmntnbkr's Avatar
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    This appeared on a local forum board this morning.


    Subject: Lawson situation, media errors, text of law


    Cyclists,

    Just a little more info on the situation with the Lawson "No Bicycle
    Zone". Diehards can see the end of this message for the full text of
    the law in question.

    Chasteen's aim in receiving the ticket and fighting it was to bring
    attention to the law in order to change it.

    The report put together by KMBC-TV news that aired Monday evening
    (which, incidentally, have been picked up by at least 51 local TV
    stations and newspapers around the country) erroneously indicated that
    Lawson's mayor is against any changes to the "no bicycle zone" law.

    You can see that report here:

    http://www.thekansascitychannel.com/...71/detail.html

    I talked with Lawson City Manager John Tracy yesterday for quite a long
    time.

    He indicates that, in fact, an update to the law IS on the agenda for
    this spring. Lawson is looking at bicycle law in nearby cities as a
    model. Lawson will work with local bicyclists and bicycle groups, as
    well as local citizens.

    Note, however, that at least some local citizens support the bicycle ban
    . . .

    --full text of the law in question------------

    Lawson City Code, page 101.

    From "Chapter 225: Misdemeanors":

    --begin quote--------
    Section 225.020 BICYCLE REGULATIONS

    A. That no person shall be permitted to push or ride a bicycle on the
    sidewalks or streets of Pennsylvania Avenue in the area from Fifth
    Street to the Santa Fe railway tracks.

    B. That any bicycle on the streets after the street lights are turned on
    in the evening, must be equipped with lights.

    C. That any parent found guilty of permitting any of the provisions of
    this Section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon
    conviction thereof shall be fined in an amount not less than one dollar
    ($1.00) nor more than one hundred dollars ($100.00).
    --end quote--------

    This was approved 7 July 1970.
    "if you're not living on the edge...
    you're taking up too much space"


    "Life is too short to drink cheap beer"

  4. #4
    Ride the Road Daily Commute's Avatar
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  5. #5
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    A number of towns have converted certain downtown streets into "pedestrian only" malls. Vehicles simply detour around the mall. In Lawson, how difficult would it be to simply detour around the "banned" area? If a guy with MS can ride 50 miles before breakfast, should he be upset about a six block detour ?

    I notice the ordinance forbids riding or "pushing" a bike in the banned zone. It did not mention "carrying" a bike across the zone. It might be amusing to have a few hundred cyclists carry their bikes into the "forbidden" zone.
    Last edited by alanbikehouston; 01-07-05 at 12:06 PM.

  6. #6
    Ride the Road Daily Commute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alanbikehouston
    A number of towns have converted certain downtown streets into "pedestrian only" malls. Vehicles simply detour around the mall. In Lawson, how difficult would it be to simply detour around the "banned" area?

    I notice the ordinance forbids riding or "pushing" a bike in the banned zone. It did not mention "carrying" a bike across the zone. It might be amusing to have a few hundred cyclists carry their bikes into the "forbidden" zone.
    Maybe not hard for you or me, but this guy's got MS. According to the story, he can ride, but walking is hard. Carrying the bikes through would seem like an interesting protest. I guess you cold also pull your bike through.

    I can see banning bike riding on pedestrian malls just like I think it's smart to ban riding on sidewalks. But banning cyclists from downtown is just silly. I'm glad this town is being ridiculed.

  7. #7
    Velocipedic Practitioner
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    Quote Originally Posted by alanbikehouston
    A number of towns have converted certain downtown streets into "pedestrian only" malls. Vehicles simply detour around the mall. In Lawson, how difficult would it be to simply detour around the "banned" area? If a guy with MS can ride 50 miles before breakfast, should he be upset about a six block detour ?

    I notice the ordinance forbids riding or "pushing" a bike in the banned zone. It did not mention "carrying" a bike across the zone. It might be amusing to have a few hundred cyclists carry their bikes into the "forbidden" zone.

    Converting a street into a pedestrian mall is one thing, but denying access to bicycles while still permitting motor vehicles to pass unmolested is quite another.
    Other forms of transportation grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart. - Iris Murdoch

  8. #8
    chicharron
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    I live in Kansas City, and remeber reading about this in the KCStar. More power to Mr.Chasteen. Seems like a reasonable position to take (esp if he's riding a recumbant-pun intended). If cars can use this same street, why not bikes?

  9. #9
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    Simple constitutional law here I believe. If there is a state law permitting bicycles on public roads, then any county or municipal ordinace would banning bikes would be invalid.
    Bikes use brakes to stop.

    If your bike has breaks, don't ride it.

  10. #10
    Ride the Road Daily Commute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DieselDan
    Simple constitutional law here I believe. If there is a state law permitting bicycles on public roads, then any county or municipal ordinace would banning bikes would be invalid.
    I haven't checked Missouri, but in Ohio, state law expressly gives local governments the powers to make special regulations on bicycles. The Ohio Bike Federation is trying to get the law changed (so far without success).

  11. #11
    GT enthusiast midwestmntnbkr's Avatar
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    The latest on this issue as posted on a local forum board in Kansas City MO.
    Bicyclists,

    Since you've been discussing the Lawson case, I thought you would be interested in the outcome. See below.

    I agree with Ed, that this is a sad day indeed for Missouri bicycling.

    ---

    When Law Loses Its Authority

    By Ed Chasteen

    When civil authority arbitrarily enforces its laws, those laws loose their claim to justice. When I was allowed for 14 years to ride my bicycle on Pennsylvania Avenue in Lawson and then one morning was told by the Chief of Police that it was illegal under a city ordinance on the books for 34 years, I became a victim of injustice. When the city prosecutor refused to prosecute the ticket I was given and was fired by the mayor and city council, justice was denied. When the new city prosecutor and the judge employed by the city said I was guilty, injustice was done.

    This is the language of Lawson's city ordinances under which I was given a ticket for "pushing a bicycle" in August 2004:



    SECTION 225.020: BICYCLE REGULATIONS

    A That no person shall be permitted to push or ride a bicycle on the sidewalks or streets of Pennsylvania Avenue from fifth Street to the Santa Fe railway tracks.

    B That any bicycles on the streets after the street lights are turned on in the evening, must be equipped with lights.

    C That any parent found guilty of permitting any of the provisions of this Section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be fined an amount not less than one dollar ($1.00) nor more than one hundred dollars ($100.00). Ord. No. KK169-3,7-7-70



    I fist rode my bicycle up Pennsylvania Avenue in the summer of 1990. If I had been stopped by the police on this ride and told that I was doing something illegal, I would not have done it again. If I had been told at anytime over the next few months, I would have stopped and made no complaint. But when after 14 years I was told, my sense of justice was offended.

    When I was allowed for 14 years to violate a law that had been on the books for 20 years when I first rode into town, that law lost its moral and legal authority. When law is enforced arbitrarily, it ceases to be law and becomes a tool used by those in authority to maintain their power. If law does not apply all the time to all the people, if it is not enforced every time its violation is known, then we must cease to call it law and know it by what it has become.

    When I hear that some of my friends in Lawson are verbally abused because I protest the arbitrary application of law, I am heartsick and sad. I want to give up. But I cannot quite bring myself to surrender. If I lose respect for myself, how can I expect others to respect the notions of justice I hold dear?

    The heart of my objection to the charge against me is that the 14-year failure to enforce the law rendered its eventual enforcement immoral and unjust. But I also have lesser objections. For one, there are no railway tracks that cross Pennsylvania Avenue. So it is not possible to know where bicycles are prohibited. Secondly, the only penalty called for is that the parent of the offending party be fined.

    My 91-year old mother has a second floor walk up in a Corpus Christi, Texas condo. No elevator. She has a new car. She's never home when I call her. She holds numerous offices in various lodges and churches. According to the ordinance I've been found guilty of violating, she is liable for the $75.00 fine and court costs I have been assessed. She has a will of iron and could sell ice cubes to Eskimos. I doubt she would pay the fine.

    The amount of money I have been asked to pay is small. Why not pay it and move on? Against all the troubles and injustice in the world, a fine for "pushing a bicycle" hardly registers. When I was a boy in Texas in the 1950s, Kitty Kallen had a hit song called, "Little Things Mean Alot." She was on to more than she likely knew. Mighty canyons have their origin in single drops of water. Over time the steady drip of single drops erode the earth. So do single laws misapplied.

    Having said all this and having now talked to my wife and my bike riding friends, I have decided to pay the $97.50. I will not in the near future ride to Lawson. More friendly places beckon. What the mayor and the police chief have won I'm not sure. But they did win. My hat's off to them.

    ---

    Ed's email is hateb-@aol.com

    Contact info for Lawson city officials:

    John Tracy, City Manager
    City of Lawson
    PO Box 185
    Lawson, MO 64062
    Phone: 816-580-3217
    Fax: 816-296-4013
    Email: lawsonci-@aol.com

    George Green, Mayor
    City of Lawson
    PO Box 185
    Lawson, MO 64062
    ====================================================
    "if you're not living on the edge...
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    "Life is too short to drink cheap beer"

  12. #12
    GT enthusiast midwestmntnbkr's Avatar
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    I personally am sorry to hear that he paid the fine. I certainly thought he would have held firm and fought a longer battle if needed to see justice done. I guess it is easier to give up sometimes and let authority win no matter how wrong they are in their decisions.

    One more for the MAN and one loss for the common folk.
    "if you're not living on the edge...
    you're taking up too much space"


    "Life is too short to drink cheap beer"

  13. #13
    genec genec's Avatar
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    SECTION 225.020: BICYCLE REGULATIONS

    A That no person shall be permitted to push or ride a bicycle on the sidewalks or streets of Pennsylvania Avenue from fifth Street to the Santa Fe railway tracks.

    B That any bicycles on the streets after the street lights are turned on in the evening, must be equipped with lights.

    C That any parent found guilty of permitting any of the provisions of this Section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be fined an amount not less than one dollar ($1.00) nor more than one hundred dollars ($100.00). Ord. No. KK169-3,7-7-70
    That's a pretty darn specific law... how do they treat motorcycles?

    Why is it that they can specifically target bicycles? What would happen if someone rode a tricycle up the street?

    Can the ACLU be brought in just to mess with these folks obviously thick heads?

  14. #14
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scarry
    The mayor said the ordinance was passed because local youngsters on bikes were causing traffic problems and near accidents.
    A local shopping center near me also banned bicycles because of youngsters, mostly because of shoplifting. So I ride up, a full-grown man, and a security guard tells me I can't park my bike in front of Kroger, pointing to the sign, "No bicycles, skateboards or loitering."

    Gee, and I was looking forward to shopping on my skateboard, next. Give me a break.
    No worries

  15. #15
    chicharron
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    A local shopping center near me also banned bicycles because of youngsters, mostly because of shoplifting. So I ride up, a full-grown man, and a security guard tells me I can't park my bike in front of Kroger, pointing to the sign, "No bicycles, skateboards or loitering."

    Gee, and I was looking forward to shopping on my skateboard, next. Give me a break.
    I have worked as a secuirty officer before. Rules and laws can be enforced, tempered with common sense.

  16. #16
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    A local shopping center near me also banned bicycles because of youngsters, mostly because of shoplifting. So I ride up, a full-grown man, and a security guard tells me I can't park my bike in front of Kroger, pointing to the sign, "No bicycles, skateboards or loitering."

    Gee, and I was looking forward to shopping on my skateboard, next. Give me a break.
    If you really like shopping at that store, talk to the manager about it. I'll bet that he would welcome your business, regardless of your vehicle.

    Otherwise, perhaps it's time to get a bit more exercise riding to the next store down the street.

  17. #17
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chicharron
    I have worked as a secuirty officer before. Rules and laws can be enforced, tempered with common sense.
    I agree 100%.


    Quote Originally Posted by supcom
    If you really like shopping at that store, talk to the manager about it. I'll bet that he would welcome your business, regardless of your vehicle.

    Otherwise, perhaps it's time to get a bit more exercise riding to the next store down the street.
    Ya, the Ingles cares not. They actually need the business.

    Ya know, I really felt raped when I had to park my bike outside the borders of a huge parking lot and walk back to the front door at Kroger, wearing my cycling garb. It's not like I couldn't handle the exercise more than everyone else who scrambles for the closest parking spots, but I felt like a second-class citizen. Need I say more?
    No worries

  18. #18
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    Ya know, I really felt raped when I had to park my bike outside the borders of a huge parking lot and walk back to the front door at Kroger, wearing my cycling garb. It's not like I couldn't handle the exercise more than everyone else who scrambles for the closest parking spots, but I felt like a second-class citizen. Need I say more?
    Why would you do this? Is there no other grocery store in town? There is no way I would give the rent-a-cop wannabe donut eater the satisfaction of watching me walk across that parking lot. No way.

  19. #19
    Devilmaycare Cycling Fool Allister's Avatar
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    What I want to know is, if it's children causing the problem, why are adults being charged?

    Lot's of younger drivers drive like maniacs putting everyone in danger, but I've yet to see any law enacted banning all motor vehicles from certain area because of it. Whoever creates laws like this needs a bicycle pump shoved up there arse sideways.
    If we learn from our mistakes, I must be a goddamn genius.

  20. #20
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by supcom
    Why would you do this? Is there no other grocery store in town? There is no way I would give the rent-a-cop wannabe donut eater the satisfaction of watching me walk across that parking lot. No way.
    It hurt my pride, it did. But not so much that I was willing to spend an extra 20 - 30 minutes detouring to the next-nearest grocery store. I was so suprised by the whole thing that I just did what was simplest. But since then, I've done my bicycle-shopping at Ingles and Dean's Food Mart. The prices are pretty good, too!
    No worries

  21. #21
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allister
    What I want to know is, if it's children causing the problem, why are adults being charged?
    Yup.

    Quote Originally Posted by Allister
    Lot's of younger drivers drive like maniacs putting everyone in danger, but I've yet to see any law enacted banning all motor vehicles from certain area because of it. Whoever creates laws like this needs a bicycle pump shoved up there arse sideways.
    That's gotta hurt.
    No worries

  22. #22
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allister
    What I want to know is, if it's children causing the problem, why are adults being charged?

    Lot's of younger drivers drive like maniacs putting everyone in danger, but I've yet to see any law enacted banning all motor vehicles from certain area because of it. Whoever creates laws like this needs a bicycle pump shoved up there arse sideways.
    It's not a law. The grocery store is private property and the owners made the rule. Perfectly legal, as far as I know, even if a bit short sighted.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by scarry
    http://www.mobikefed.org/2004_09_01_...67905360456031

    This problem with riding bikes to Catrick's first came to light back in May when a bunch of riders stopped here for the free lunch they were providing in support of our Greater Liberty Bke Ride for MS. A police officer stopped some riders that day and told them they couldn't ride there. I went to the police station when I heard and talked to the officer. I subsequently talked to the mayor. He and I then exchanged letters on the subject.

    The mayor said the ordinance was passed because local youngsters on bikes were causing traffic problems and near accidents..
    Here's the problem folks.

    Back in May, he had an argument with a police officer and decided to see the mayor. At that point, words were probably exchanged and the ordinance was passed as a result of the initial confrontation. I'm almost certain if he didn't go to the police station and fight with the mayor, things might be a lot different.

    I'm still sorry to see what happened. He could still win his case but legal fees would be in the thousands.

  24. #24
    Get outdoors! :) Becca's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    It hurt my pride, it did. But not so much that I was willing to spend an extra 20 - 30 minutes detouring to the next-nearest grocery store. I was so suprised by the whole thing that I just did what was simplest. But since then, I've done my bicycle-shopping at Ingles and Dean's Food Mart. The prices are pretty good, too!
    Have you contacted the management at that Krogers? At least let them know that their ban, intended for kids causing trouble, is costing them money in turning away paying customers.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    Enough of fostering fear.
    Enough of the illegitimate war.
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    Enough is enough: vote Democrat!

  25. #25
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    A local shopping center near me also banned bicycles because of youngsters, mostly because of shoplifting. So I ride up, a full-grown man, and a security guard tells me I can't park my bike in front of Kroger, pointing to the sign, "No bicycles, skateboards or loitering."

    Gee, and I was looking forward to shopping on my skateboard, next. Give me a break.
    The appropriate sign to accomplish what they really want is "No playing in parking lot."

    We have the same problem here in Cary, NC:

    http://www.humantransport.org/bicycl...nobicycles.htm

    -Steve Goodridge

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