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Council divided on bicycle ordinance

Monday, July 6, 2009 | 10:38 p.m. CDT; updated 10:59 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 8, 2009

*Fourth Ward Councilman Jerry Wade said, "It is not good for bicyclists." An earlier version of this article omitted a word.

COLUMBIA — Fourth Ward Councilman Jerry Wade said Monday he thinks the City Council "made a mistake" with its approval last month of an ordinance protecting cyclists from harassment.

Wade started off the council comments portion of Monday night's meeting with a reversal from his stance in June. At the June 15 meeting, the council unanimously approved the cyclists ordinance.

"We should have explored whether the ordinance was even necessary or if there were better options, such as amending existing ordinances, but didn't," Wade said.

Wade prepared a two-sided handout detailing his present opposition to the ordinance. He said the council should vote to suspend the ordinance for at least six months while staff evaluates whether or not amendments to current city ordinances can provide broader harassment protection.

"The ordinance does not make it better, it makes it worse. It is not* good for bicyclists. It is not good for motorists," Wade said. "It does not contribute to the vision of creating a biking- and walking-friendly community."

Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe disagreed, saying, "The bicyclists need the protection now."

Hoppe doesn't believe suspending the ordinance is the solution. She said improved education about both the ordinance and bicycle signals will mend the growing divide between cyclists and motorists.

Hoppe said the Columbia Police Department will add information to its Web site by the end of July regarding rules of the road for motorists and cyclists. Hoppe said this is one way to improve community awareness and relations between the two travelers.

"I think this ordinance has spurred the education process," she said. "It would set a bad precedent to backtrack on something we've already passed."

Hoppe's biggest concern with a suspension is the ramifications for the council.

"I voted this way, and I want the public to have confidence that when I come back in two weeks that I'm not going to change my vote and take the ordinance back immediately," she said.

Second Ward Councilman Jason Thornhill disagreed with Hoppe's statement that a suspension would set a bad precedent.

Like Wade, Thornhill said he was unsure of the hastiness in which the ordinance passed.

"I left here wondering what I'd done as well because I had similar feelings," Thornhill said. "Singling out a group is not the right thing to have done or continue to do."

Thornhill related a recent experience in which he had to lock his brakes at a four-way intersection where he had the right-of-way to avoid hitting a bicyclist breaking the law.

"I've seen a couple bicyclists testing the boundaries," he said.

Fifth Ward Councilwoman Laura Nauser also said she agreed with Wade.

"There's an animosity that exists in Columbia between motorists and bicyclists," she said.

Nauser said she wished there was more input during the public hearing from both sides.

"We haven't taken the time to hear all the testimony," she said.

Karl Skala, Paul Sturtz and Mayor Darwin Hindman were not at Monday's meeting.

City staff will introduce a first-read recommendation to the council for a suggested suspension at the next meeting on Aug. 3.

Missourian reporter Ben Hansen contributed to this report


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Comments

Ray Shapiro July 7, 2009 | 12:02 a.m.

What exactly are these city council members trying to do?
How dare they admit to being human and force me to extend my respect and admiration.
Kudos to Mr. Thornhill, Ms. Nauser and Mr. Wade.

("Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe disagreed, saying, "The bicyclists need the protection now.")
How does an ordinance that will create more problems then solutions make any cyclists any safer then they already are?
My guess is that you are overly-mothering a few at the expense of not cultivating good-will to the populace. May I suggest you get AAA involved in your "bicycle-friendly" concerns and not harass motorists with heavy-handed ordinances which elevate your own personal agenda.
I am licensed to operate a motor vehicle by the State of Missouri.
When I'm behind the wheel, I am in "adult" mode.
In the words of Dustin Hoffman in "Rainman," I'm a very good driver."
Do your cyclists have a bicycle operators license? Do they display a license plate for identification and accountability purposes?
Are you extending to these cyclists preferential treatment?
Should they be getting more "protection" from you then those who rely on their low-rider or monster truck?
What gives, Ms. Hoppe?
Do you have pedal-mania?
At what cost?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr July 7, 2009 | 4:50 a.m.

Good on the suspension and hopefully the repealing of this ordinance as there is already one on the Missouri books already as somebody posted here.

Why do we need doubles and triples or multiples of these ordinances?

Just a waste of tax payer money that could be put to work beefing up all EMS services and law enforcement capabilities.

(Report Comment)
cwh51 July 7, 2009 | 5:07 a.m.

I'm sure Ms Hoppe has felt she has been harassed as she rides her bike to these meetings. She should tackle her neighbors lawn that is nearly breaking the weed height ordinance on the very street she lives.
(tongue in cheek of course)

(Report Comment)
Greg Collins July 7, 2009 | 6:41 a.m.

"Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe disagreed, saying, "The bicyclists need the protection now."

Typical emotional rant by a "government knows best" type.

(Report Comment)
Michael Scott July 7, 2009 | 8:45 a.m.

This is good news. The ordinance should never have passed in the first place and I'm glad to see a few council people are in favor of suspending it, and hopefully they will agree to do away with the ordinance in total.

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock July 7, 2009 | 10:53 a.m.

Now the question is if the motorist will show up and support not having the ordinance. The squeaky wheel gets the grease and you know the biblicists will be there in droves.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr July 7, 2009 | 11:36 a.m.

This is one comment about this entire mess that was posted on the Tribune but then deleted by their staff. It is a classic use of the wording available and in everyday use and just put into it's proper context of the issue we are dealing with.

>>> Mayor Darwin has made Columbia the "PedalFeelyA" capital of Missouri. <<<

Notice the pun on the wording.

This comment was deleted on the Tribune due to their editorial staff and obviously the owner cannot handle the truth about this entire GetAboutColumbia or as some call it SpendAboutColumbia program at the expense of the American tax payer.

>>> Allan Sharrock July 7, 2009 | 10:53 a.m.
Now the question is if the motorist will show up and support not having the ordinance. The squeaky wheel gets the grease and you know the biblicists will be there in droves. <<<

I agree the motorists should show up in droves,write letters to the editor of this media outlet,call City Hall,email their councilmen and everything else they can do as a show of total community solidarity against this silly ordinance and the outlandish behaviors coming out of our City Government offices.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 7, 2009 | 12:45 p.m.

On July 5th I passed a milestone: 20 years of living in Columbia, Missouri. I've only lived longer in one other place, and that record could soon be eclipsed.

Since it seems far more like 10 years than 20, I would say that my experience has been largely positive. But certain more recent events in our fair city have me very concerned.

There seems to be a great deal of emphasis on parks and bicycles, but a lack of understanding concerning criminality in our city. I am not suggesting that our police don't understand the problem, but the good old boys who think they are running Columbia don't seem to have a clue! I have no problem with parks and bicycles, but without law and order we will have absolutely nothing - except fear!

(Report Comment)
Tim Donahoe August 13, 2009 | 5:49 a.m.

A few points:

1. Most cyclists are also licensed motorist, and are typically better drivers than non-cyclists because of it.

2. Regarding honking, we're not in a shell like you in your car. Unless you have the world's quietest electric car, we hear you behind us. I know there are people who don't have good habits/skills on a bicycle, but many of us do. Don't treat us like a dog in the road.

3. Ordinance or not, I'm very good at remembering license plates, and I will continue to report drivers that break laws and endanger me or other cyclists (and believe me, there are a lot in this town).

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 13, 2009 | 8:06 a.m.

>>> 3. Ordinance or not, I'm very good at remembering license plates, and I will continue to report drivers that break laws and endanger me or other cyclists (and believe me, there are a lot in this town). <<<

And everybody who is sick of bicyclists running red lights, stop signs,cutting off others needlessly,riding abreast instead of single file and other nuisances that local bicyclists do every day will continue to complain to City Council and in the local media outlets until bicyclists in this entire community realize they are not the Elitists Gods they believe themselves to be and really begin to educate their own to abide by the Missouri Drivers Code of Conduct that all must follow.

(Report Comment)

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