By LOU WILIN
A proposed ban on bicycling on downtown sidewalks will get a first reading before Findlay City Council today.
City officials for years have been receiving complaints about bicyclists nearly colliding with pedestrians on sidewalks, said Paul Schmelzer, city safety-service director.
Legislation before City Council would ban riding a bicycle on the sidewalk in an area bounded by Center Street on the north; Lincoln Street on the south, and by the first alleys east and west of Main Street.
The penalty for a first offense would be up to a $150 fine; a second offense would result in up to a $250 fine; and a third offense would result in up to a $500 fine. Under Ohio law, a second and third offense could result in 30 days and 60 days in jail, respectively.
But city Law Director Don Rasmussen said he doubts that anyone would have to go to jail for repeat offenses.
The proposed ordinance is not meant to be heavy-handed, Schmelzer said.
“If someone is sitting on their bike seat and kind of walking their bike, or slowly pedaling it in a sense, we’re not looking at a violation,” he said.” But if you’re going to ride your bicycle down Main Street close to the buildings, which is essentially what the current law calls for, you’re looking for an accident.”
The current ordinance requires bicyclists on the sidewalk in a business district to ride as far from the street as possible.
That “puts you right at the doors of a business, which is, in and of itself, ridiculous,” Schmelzer said. “So, we think the ordinance needs looked at.”
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