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City ordinance - Stephenville

Old 07-12-10, 01:55 AM
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KD5NRH
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City ordinance - Stephenville

Yep; home of the Firecracker 100. I've got access to a couple of the City Council members, but I'd like to see if anyone else has dealt with something like this and may have some helpful input:
130.70 ROLLER SKATES, ROLLER BLADES, SKATEBOARDS, COASTERS, SCOOTERS, BICYCLES AND THE LIKE.

(A) No person shall ride in, ride upon or in any manner operate any roller skates, roller blades, skateboard, scooters, bicycles, or similar device upon any sidewalk, roadway and/or street within the Central Business District of the city. No person shall ride in, ride upon or in any manner operate a bicycle upon any sidewalk within the Central Business District. For the purposes of this section, the Central Business District shall be defined as that portion of the city bounded by Tarleton Street on the north, Long Street on the south, Floral Street on the east and Barton Street on the west.
For those not familiar with the downtown area of Stephenville, this makes for a pretty crappy 5-6 block detour on poorly maintained and/or brick streets, if you're going north/south, the same plus a huge hill in a 20 zone if you're going east/west. The streets are narrow, but stop signs are plentiful, so it's not like you'd be holding up high-speed traffic, either.

EDIT TO ADD: Map, with CBD area in blue. Note that there is no legal northeast detour available other than US281, about a mile east of the shown area. Detouring westward from SH108 (to go north or south) requires a trip though the park, and a short-but-steep hill, with the aforementioned bad streets.

Last edited by KD5NRH; 07-12-10 at 02:37 AM. Reason: Added information
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Old 07-13-10, 09:56 AM
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Dallas has the same thing about the central business district. They don't seem to enforce the law but it is there. I ride on the street through downtown Dallas.
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Old 07-14-10, 07:16 AM
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Dallas only has a law against riding on the sidewalks in downtown. Riding the streets is totally legal.

The Stephanville ordinance bans riding on the sidewalks AND STREETS.
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Old 07-14-10, 07:48 AM
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I wasn't reading close enough. That is pretty crappy. Good luck on getting this changed.
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Old 07-14-10, 02:13 PM
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notice the senior citizens center in that area? hmmmmm

my opinion.. it's just a reactionary law that had to be written to crack down on those newfangled wheelimajigs those darn punk kids are riding these days.

seriously tho.. the town i grew up in passed something like that to keep punk skaters and freestyle bikers from causing a nuisance in the middle of town where people were trying to do business. there were actually quite few incidents where kids were trying tricks on the elevated sidewalk and broke store windows, dented/scratched cars, and had some near misses with peds. on the other hand, if we were just riding along, the cops left us alone as long we weren't on skateboards.

i can't speak for your little town, but i bet they wouldn't enforce that ordinance if you're a respectable looking cyclist. i'd go for a test ride and maybe even ask a cop what they're told regarding enforcement of cycling laws.
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Old 07-14-10, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by MDfive21 View Post
my opinion.. it's just a reactionary law that had to be written to crack down on those newfangled wheelimajigs those darn punk kids are riding these days.
That's my guess; the council apparently had a few people on a serious power trip at the time. I've already gone through the process to get one ordinance from that time period tossed out as being inconsistent with state law. The police chief backed me on that one, as he didn't like the idea of having unnecessary ordinances or unenforceable "scare tactic" ones. Unfortunately, he's retiring before the next council meeting, so any help from him will be unofficial, and nobody really knows anything useful about the new chief.

i can't speak for your little town, but i bet they wouldn't enforce that ordinance if you're a respectable looking cyclist. i'd go for a test ride and maybe even ask a cop what they're told regarding enforcement of cycling laws.
The last few I talked to weren't even aware of the state headlight requirement until I pointed it out. The one across the street from me is university PD, so even though he can enforce city ordinances and state laws, they only get trained on the ones that apply to the campus. Since the CBD is about a mile from the campus, they only even go there when they're called for mutual aid.
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Old 07-14-10, 03:01 PM
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I have no idea what the ordinance is regarding skateboarders in Fort Worth, but yesterday I passed a girl using a skateboard for transportation in the bike lane on Chapin Road. She was just rolling straight, occasionally reaching out with a leg to get some speed. I bet someone like that would be okay in S-ville as long as they didn't cause a nuisance.
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Old 07-14-10, 05:18 PM
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it doesn't matter if they'd be okay. it's giving officers one more reason to harass innocent people, which they already have plenty of.
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Old 07-14-10, 06:45 PM
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If the roads are public roads and not toll roads I do not know if they can legally ban bicycles from the road without providing an alternative rout.
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Old 02-09-11, 12:41 AM
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And now, adding to the insanity, they're proposing a special "Downtown District" zoning plan, with "bicycle sales and rental" as one of the specifically proposed "permitted uses." On page 23 of the proposal is the map showing the proposed district; it's identical to the Central Business District in the ordinance above.

https://www.ci.stephenville.tx.us/Doc...0,%2012-15.pdf

The public hearing on this should happen at the March council meeting.

FWIW, there's now a MUP that basically follows the river from the dead end of E Tarleton north of the CBD around to where 108 crosses the river south of it, so that could be considered something of an alternative route around the district, but of course it's a lot of extra distance, no access to downtown businesses, and not useful for anybody coming from the west.
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Old 02-09-11, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by OneArmedScissor View Post
... it's giving officers one more reason to harass...
It's never (well, seldom) the officers. It's being hit by an at-fault motorist and having no recourse because it was a violation of ordinace for you to be riding there.
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Old 02-09-11, 11:42 AM
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The city of Anna has had a ban for bicycles on Main Street for years now. If it was closer to me, I would have been tempted to challenge that one. The more of these there are that go unchallenged, the more new ones we'll see.
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Old 02-09-11, 12:25 PM
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The law mentions scooter. Handicapped persons utilize scooters for mobility. I suspect this law will conflict with Federal laws designating handicapped access.
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Old 02-10-11, 08:52 AM
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gtragitt I'm sure they are talking about the two "razor" scooters. Not mobility carts.
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Old 02-10-11, 11:52 AM
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I'm not familiar with Stephenville downtown riding conditions. It's crappy since there is not a reasonable detour route and because it makes so much of downtown inaccessible by bike.

I suspect either unsupervised kids are causing problems; or there are some problems with cars unable to see bikes when backing out of parking spots.

"Scooter" is worded loosely enough that it seems to include those used for handicapped people. I bet that's not enforced.
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Old 02-11-11, 10:00 PM
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Originally Posted by nkfrench View Post
I suspect either unsupervised kids are causing problems; or there are some problems with cars unable to see bikes when backing out of parking spots.
All of the on-street parking is parallel parking, and there's rarely so much in use that one actually has to resort to backing to get in or out.
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Old 02-12-11, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by nkfrench View Post
"Scooter" is worded loosely enough that it seems to include those used for handicapped people. I bet that's not enforced.
Well, if they are covered and it was enforced, it would struck down immediately as conflicting with the ADA.

Having not read the law, I'm guessing that these sorts of devices are not covered, either by being explicitly excluded or by the definition of "scooter" not including them.
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Old 02-12-11, 10:54 AM
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Either way, I'm taking action; I just applied for a place on the ballot for the upcoming election.
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Old 02-12-11, 04:14 PM
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Pressure from outsiders will have little effect.

Boycott the Firecracker ride with enough people because S'vill is bike unfriendly and you'll bring some internal pressure.
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Old 02-17-11, 01:20 PM
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If you do business with folks in the "central district" tell them you'll be back when the law gets changed. The business owners there have the power to change this.
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Old 02-20-11, 12:37 AM
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Originally Posted by sedges View Post
If you do business with folks in the "central district" tell them you'll be back when the law gets changed. The business owners there have the power to change this.
Oddly, the only business I've conducted in the CBD lately has been filing my paperwork for the council election. Seems counterproductive to boycott that.
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Old 06-08-11, 02:30 PM
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Talked to a council member last week who said the council is convinced it's a mistake; he thinks that "bicycle" was supposed to be removed from the first sentence of (A) when the second sentence was added. They're going to dig out the "official" copy that was signed into law and see if there's a cross-out that got missed when it was transcribed. In the meantime, the police are not supposed to enforce it.
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Old 06-10-11, 02:32 PM
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Thanks for bumping this, I've been off the forum for a while, didn't see your thread until now. Even if it turns out not to be a mistake I'm sure you can make a good argument for getting this ordinance thrown out. A bicycle is a vehicle under Texas State Law and as such a bicyclist has a right to ride on the road. As others have mentioned, take away that right and you not only take away the bicyclist's civil liberty, you take away their legal recourse should there be an accident. Whether they're enforced or not, this law and others like it set precedence and precedence can be used in arguments for upholding laws. Scary. The Stephenville law might hold up if it only violated the civil rights of bicyclists but it's also non-compliant with ADA legislation ("scooter") - the council members must have been in such a hurry to crack down on those whippersnappers with their shenanigans that they forgot about the Civil Rights Act.

I'm not sure if you've done so already but you should The League of American Bicyclists. They may have resources to help. Good luck, keep us posted!

Originally Posted by KD5NRH View Post
Talked to a council member last week who said the council is convinced it's a mistake; he thinks that "bicycle" was supposed to be removed from the first sentence of (A) when the second sentence was added. They're going to dig out the "official" copy that was signed into law and see if there's a cross-out that got missed when it was transcribed. In the meantime, the police are not supposed to enforce it.
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Old 06-11-11, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by shelleyspins View Post
A bicycle is a vehicle under Texas State Law and as such a bicyclist has a right to ride on the road!
Texas law does have provisions for a local government to ban bicycles from certain roads --

545.065. STATE AND LOCAL REGULATION OF LIMITED-ACCESS OR CONTROLLED-ACCESS HIGHWAYS. (a) The Texas Transportation Commission by resolution or order recorded in its minutes may prohibit the use of a limited-access or controlled-access highway under the jurisdiction of the commission by a parade, funeral procession, pedestrian, bicycle, electric bicycle, motor-driven cycle, or nonmotorized traffic.

... but of course, downtown roads are usually not limited access or controlled access highways. I can't find anything else that says that local governments can ban bicycles from roads -- but I didn't really find anything that says they can't either, so I'm inclined to think they can. But if they do, we get into the Constitutional issue about the right to travel and such.

People give 551.101 far too much credit. By itself, it really means very little. Certainly, by itself, it does not give bicycles the right to the road. What gives bicycles the "right to the road" is that there's generally no laws that prohibit the use of the road by bicycles, and if it's not illegal, it's legal. And of course, the laws are generally written with the understanding that bicycles belong on the road.

Either way, downtown roads are exactly the sort of place where people want to ride bicycles, and the sort of place where it makes perfect sense, so banning them there really makes little sense. Based on KD5NRH's update, it sounds like it's being handled appropriately -- and if the council (city council?) does find the the law was entered incorrectly, they should be able to fix it.
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Old 06-13-11, 03:44 AM
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Originally Posted by shelleyspins View Post
the council members must have been in such a hurry to crack down on those whippersnappers with their shenanigans that they forgot about the Civil Rights Act.
I'm also trying to talk them into revisiting the wording of the section that provides for businesses banning bicycles from their parking lots; when it was put in place, we didn't have a loitering ordinance, but we do now. Using the loitering ordinance in place of a specific bicycle ban would allow the businesses to get rid of trick riders, etc. while not interfering with legitimate customers on bicycles.
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