Today's Question: Would suspending bike harassment ordinance be bad precedent?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009 | 10:41 a.m. CDT; updated 6:42 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 8, 2009

At the City Council meeting on Monday night, Fourth Ward Councilman Jerry Wade said, "I believe we made a mistake."

Wade was referring to the council's unanimous decision on June 15 to pass an ordinance that makes it a misdemeanor to harass a bicyclist. This includes throwing objects, hurling verbal assaults and putting a cyclist's life in danger.

The comments portion of the council meeting allowed the other council members to weigh in, and this discussion showed that Wade wasn't alone. Second Ward Councilman Jason Thornhill agreed with Wade, citing a personal encounter in which, he said, he had to lock his brakes at an intersection when an anxious cyclist eagerly tried to trump Thornhill's right-of-way.

At the meeting Monday, Thornhill said he was uneasy about the hastiness with which the ordinance was passed. He looked down at his notes and said, "I left here wondering what I'd done as well because I had similar feelings" to Wade.

However, Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe said a suspension of the ordinance would set a bad precedent for future City Council decisions following a unanimous vote.

Hoppe said education for both motorists and cyclists would lead to a resolution of public unrest over the decision.

During the discussion, some members brought up public input that has appeared online and has made it clear that a segment of the community isn't happy that the council enacted an ordinance concerning a specific group of people.

City Council is to bring up the issue again for a first reading and a possible suspension at its next meeting on Aug. 3.

If City Council suspends the bicycle harassment ordinance, does it set a bad precendent for the future?

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Greg Collins July 8, 2009 | 11:08 a.m.

There's already laws on the books covering any harassment, abuse or assault of cyclists ... what the clowncil did was demonstrate redundancy for its own sake by government because of some very minority and unproven emotional appeal which sounds like "do something, do it quick, but do it now even if it's wrong".

(Report Comment)
Richard Hayden July 8, 2009 | 12:28 p.m.

If one extrapolates similar knee-jerk responses, the punishment applied to those guilty of harassment of Fed, State and Local politicians due to the stupidity of the laws they pass, will also be (misdemeanor) expanded, further defining and legitimizing certain classes of the public as Super Victims by legislation. Haven't some of our politicians already destroyed enough of the public's trust? Why contribute to further erosion and add to rapidly swelling insignificance? Obviously reason was already thrown out the window simply on the basis of classifying/not classifying, the death at the hands of another a "Hate Crime", duh!

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr July 8, 2009 | 12:29 p.m.

The ordinance should never have been passed or even thought of in the first place.

(Report Comment)
Blake Segafredo July 8, 2009 | 12:30 p.m.

They are making this harder then it needs to be. A much easier way to handle this would be to pass an ordinance that removes this ordinance from the city code. If the City Attorney claims they can not do that, then pass an ordinance that nullifies the ordinance. 'Suspending' the ordinance is a bad idea. It is easy to make the ordinance disappear and it does not set any odd precedent. But oh wait, that would be too easy!

(Report Comment)
Richard Hayden July 8, 2009 | 12:36 p.m.

My apology, I did not address the posed question: Today's Question: Would suspending bike harassment ordinance be bad precedent?

Was passing it in the first place bad?
Would a redo of an undo be a dodo?

(Report Comment)
Steven Hanson July 8, 2009 | 2:33 p.m.

If this whole gaggle of huff and puff over this ordinance and Get About Columbia in general is any indication, the cyclists surely do need extraordinary protection from others. However, it only takes a few geese to make a gaggle loud, and I think that's what's happening in the opposition to this ordinance. Harassment of bicyclists is common enough, and nearly always fails to pass the threshold of third-degree assault which is essentially the line between police action and inaction, as stated by Chief Burton. When presented with the facts as they are, and the testimony given before the council, the Council's decision was the proper one and would so be judged by any reasonable person. If a motorist commits the same acts against another motorist, road rage state statutes are applicable, so this is not a case of giving special preference to one group. As suggested in the original council debate, this ordinance should be extended to protect other pedestrians.

Now, I do feel that some people are misinterpreting Dr. Wade's feelings on this matter. My understanding is that he feels this ordinance has only increased the level of disrespect that many people have for cyclists, and by itself will not stop the ongoing harassment of cyclists. He wants a more holistic approach to solving the problem, which is admirable. He understands that the root cause of the harassment stems from a section of people that are afraid of change and fearful of where society is headed. At some point civic leaders, like Dr. Wade, have to make more of an effort to confront these views and help people to accept change. However, that is a long, long process, and this ordinance fills a void that well help to protect the lives and property of cyclists.

(Report Comment)
Richard Hayden July 8, 2009 | 4:09 p.m.

May I say sir, you would be a perfect fit to run for public office. But be sure and not let the"whole gaggle of huff and puff" stand in your way.
Reasonable person

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro July 8, 2009 | 9:50 p.m.

("If City Council suspends the bicycle harassment ordinance, does it set a bad precendent for the future?")
There is no such thing as a bad precendent, a good precendent or a mediocre precendent. In fact, there is no such thing as a precendent.

("Would suspending bike harassment ordinance be bad precedent?")

It would not be bad precedent.
It be wise thing to do, big chief in newsroom.

(This is why pencils have erasers.
Computers have spell check.)

Also, people understand that mistakes happen when we rush.

Good leaders listen to the populace and reason things out.

Personally, I think the ordinance should become null and void.

Doing that would actually send out a message that we trust that both motorists and cyclists will conduct themselves as adults as we move forward licensing bicycles and holding cyclists responsible for their hazardous driving.
ARTICLE: Cyclist Errors which Cause Automobile-Bicycle Collisions
("At least half of all collisions between bicycles and motor vehicles are the fault of the rider of the bike. These mistakes could be prevented through understanding the traffic laws and through greater care in riding the bicycle.")
source and more:

(Report Comment)

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