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Man's citation raises questions over Columbia roller skate ordinance

Wednesday, July 22, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 8:16 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 22, 2009

COLUMBIA — After being issued a summons to appear in court for roller skating downtown, Evan Jones is looking to change this city ordinance.

As a former roller derby referee and an active member of the Midwest Men’s Roller Derby, Jones uses his roller skates to get around town.

City ordinance

Section 14-5 Use of coasters, roller skates and similar devices.

    (a) No person upon roller skates, or riding in or by means of any coaster, skateboard, toy vehicle or similar device shall go upon any roadway, alley or sidewalk within boundaries defined as follows: on both sides of the streets outlined in the special business district and extending from Fifth Street eastward, or public parking lots and garages within the Central Business District.


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"When in town, I like to get away from the car and get out on my eight wheels," Jones said.

Section 14.5 of Columbia’s code of ordinances states that no one may roller skate, skateboard or ride toy vehicles or other similar devises on the roads, alleys or sidewalks within the Special Business District east of Fifth Street.

But Jones was not aware of the ordinance and was stopped on two different occasions by the same Columbia Police Department officer. After stopping Jones for the second time, the officer issued a citation summoning Jones to court. The officer confiscated his skates and told him that they would be held indefinitely by the city for evidence. Jones said he then walked part of the way home in his socks.

“It was unpleasant, also a little dangerous,” Jones said. “A friend drove by and offered me a pair of shoes, which I used to walk back in.”

Jones said that not having his skates kept him from training for a roller derby exhibition and asked if any readers could donate a pair for the competition.

“The bottom line right now is getting some skates,” Jones said.

But he's concerned about more than losing his skates. As a supporter of alternative transportation, he wonders why an ordinance that prohibits roller skating in certain areas of Columbia even exists. He said that he wants to start taking action to encourage a policy change in the ordinance.

Jones hopes to give a public statement at the next City Council meeting. He has also written a petition requesting the amendment or repeal of the ordinance and plans to present the signatures to the council.

“Skating is a large hobby for me,” Jones said. “I was very surprised to hear it was a law. I’m concerned there isn’t a legal way to get around besides walking, biking or driving.”

Officer Jeff Westbrook said they do not write many summons for the ordinance. Officers usually issue a verbal warning, but because Jones kept skating after being warned, he was issued a citation.

Westbrook said the ordinance is in place because of complaints the police department has received from business owners and shoppers who have collided with skaters.

"We're focusing on the downtown area because of such complaints," Westbrook said. "We're focusing on safety in the area, but not specifically on roller skating."

Jones contacted First Ward Councilman Paul Sturtz and the PedNet Coalition with his concerns.

“I would think that roller skaters have the same rights that bicyclists have,” Sturtz said. “If we don’t want roller skaters on the sidewalks, we should let them be on the streets.”

Robert Johnson, educational coordinator for PedNet, said that he was unaware of the ordinance until he looked it up after receiving Jones’ e-mail and plans to look into the subject further.

Both Sturtz and Sixth Ward City Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe said they would look into reviewing the ordinance, as it might be outdated.

“It’s an issue that I hadn’t contemplated, but I am willing to discuss it further,” Hoppe said. “I would agree that we would have to look at it and see what a reasonable adjustment would be.”


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Comments

Ray Shapiro July 22, 2009 | 12:57 a.m.

GetAbout should get out and start painting some roller skate and skate board logo tattoos on authorized roadways so that these non-motorized "green-friendly" alternative modes of transportation don't have their minority rights violated.
We need more roller derby queens and Bart Simpson clones to help with the destruction of friendly pedestrian walkers and create more hazards for motorists.
I can tell you the future for Columbia in two words.
Ball bearings.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr July 22, 2009 | 4:10 a.m.

Ok so now we need Bike Tattoos,Skateboard Tattoos,Wheelchair Tattoos,Scooter Tattoos and what next Baby Stroller Tattoos?

Stop this madness!!!!

(Report Comment)
King Diamond July 22, 2009 | 8:47 a.m.

I 100% agree, they should allow this guy to skate in the bike lanes. Can you imagine the irony if a biker is pissed off because someone is going slow in the bike line?

(Report Comment)
Fadra Hepner July 22, 2009 | 9:51 a.m.

Have some common sense, people. If you are CONSIDERATE of others, this could work. Can anyone say TRIAL BASIS? If it doesn't work, ditch it. I can totally see the possible problems that skateboarding could cause in a crowded business district, AND the safety issues of a person (not as large or as fast as a person on a bike) skating in the road.

Why not launch a publicity campaign aimed at those who would most likely be utilizing this mode of transportation? If you mow people down, the ordinace will be reinstated. Makes sense to me.

A person on a skateboard can easily hop off of the skateboard in a crowded area. Roller skates aren't so easy to take on and off, but if one is in control of said skates, easy to slow and maneuver around people. If you don't have the skill, don't do it.

(Report Comment)
Clara Allen July 22, 2009 | 9:56 a.m.

Westbrook said the ordinance is in place because of complaints the police department has received from business owners and shoppers who have collided with skaters.

***************

Don'tcha just love that 'our poo does not stink' mentality of 'the district?' Someone complains (undoubtedly someone with an insider district pedigree) and we fix it with an ordinance.

Quick Maude - it's a roller skater - call the cops!

Of course there are no other problems in 'the district' to worry about and we all know how insidious those people who roller skate are. Why they're right up there with those folks who put two kitchens in one house. And those cab companies - my goodness, some of them want to exist without operating 24/7. OMG, what's next??????

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr July 22, 2009 | 11:39 a.m.

Get a reality check people this is not down town San Diego or down town Pensacola by far and if you want to turn Columbia into those cities why don't you just pack your bags and move there in the first place.

Stop this madness!

(Report Comment)
Christopher Wendel July 22, 2009 | 1:18 p.m.

I dont understand how they could justify letting Bikes ride down town but not Skateboards or Skates. Columbia seems to pride itself on trying to go green and find alternative forms of transportation. To me this Ordinance seems to be a set back. If we want to skate in the bike lane why not let it happen. Sidewalks should be for walking, Roadways for cars and the bike lane should be welcome to skaters and bikes.

(Report Comment)
Evan Jones July 22, 2009 | 2:44 p.m.

For more information about the incident or to stay updated on my petitioning and news appearances, please feel free to follow me on twitter @evanexempt .

My original blog on the incident can be found here:
http://blog.myspace.com/refbatwing

At this point, I am scheduled for an interview/shoot with the Tribune tonight, and a radio appearance on 'Wake Up, Columbia' on 93.9 FM with Tom Bradley next Tuesday (28th) in the 8 o'clock hour.

I have also been approved for a scheduled public statement at the next City Council meeting, Monday, August 3rd.

I can be reached directly at evanexempt@hotmail.com

Please let me know if you are interested in signing my petition to amend or repeal ordinance 14.5. My intent is to encourage Council to reexamine the ordinance and make provisions, exemptions, or 'safe' routes for non-bicycle/auto transportation on city streets.

Thank you!

Evan "Exempt" Jones

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro July 22, 2009 | 2:59 p.m.

I'm all for separate safe routes for non-motorized transportation, but not at the expense of the average taxpayer.
Bicycles, roller skaters and skateboards pose a hazard and distraction to motorists and pedestrians. Especially to senior walkers, protective parents and "emotionally wired" motorists.
You don't belong whizzing around on city streets.
Come up with a "safe and serene" proposal and I'll sign that petition.
I love roller derby.
However, it belongs in the rink.

(Report Comment)
Christopher Wendel July 22, 2009 | 4:02 p.m.

I understand where your coming from. I would like to state that there is already a bike route in the downtown area. We’re not saying ‘’average’’ tax payers have to spend more money, we’re saying that Skateboards and Roller Skates be allowed on the designated bike route. Plus, there are three College Campuses in the Downtown area. One would only think that we would only benefit from people ditching the car a couple days a week and getting on a Bike, Skateboard or Skates.

(Report Comment)
Evan Jones July 22, 2009 | 4:40 p.m.

Christopher Wendel said: "...there are three College Campuses in the Downtown area. One would only think that we would only benefit from people ditching the car a couple days a week and getting on a Bike, Skateboard or Skates."

***********
Good point. Though I still wonder how many people will ever be using skates/skateboards as a regular mode of transportation in Columbia, students or no.

But all I am really trying to do is emphasize that there are never going to be enough people on skates to cause a significant disruption bicycle/motorist traffic. So why in the hell do we need laws that make it so one such person can be ticketed, arrested and have their (VALUABLE) personal property confiscated??

I looked like a criminal standing on the side of the street in my helmet and SOCKS while I was being written up by a bike-cop with nothing better to do! It was humiliating. The ordinance is unjust, outdated and just plain wrong!

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr July 22, 2009 | 6:04 p.m.

Evan Jones dude if the cop told you not to do it and then caught you doing it again anyway you have no recourse in the matter.

Get real here,you were told not to and you did it anyway. You are guilty as charged and the judge will find you as such.

If you wanted to train so badly why didn't you go on the M.U. campus if they do not have the same type of ordinance in place or better yet why didn't you go train up on the real steep road going behind Faurot Field off South Providence out of everybody's way to begin with.

Once again in case you missed my other post:

Get a reality check people this is not down town San Diego or down town Pensacola by far and if you want to turn Columbia into those cities why don't you just pack your bags and move there in the first place.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 22, 2009 | 6:38 p.m.

Chuck, sounds like you are telling Evan to be complacent. The love it or leave refrain is icing on the cake.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr July 22, 2009 | 7:29 p.m.

John Schultz the fact is a cop told him not to and he went ahead and broke the law anyway. That is the base of the issue/debate here.

Maybe the cop should not have confiscated his skates but the cop had to do something to ensure the man would not break that law again just short of tossing him in jail.

What should the cop have done bought the guy a smoothie at Star Bucks instead?

There were other places this man could have trained if he had been thinking outside of the box besides downtown which I pointed out a couple of those areas above.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 22, 2009 | 9:54 p.m.

True, the copy was just enforcing the law, but I think you telling Evan he should take a hike from Columbia instead of trying to change the law is wrong.

(Report Comment)
Evan Jones July 23, 2009 | 2:21 a.m.

Charles Dudley Jr wrote:
"Evan Jones dude if the cop told you not to do it and then caught you doing it again anyway you have no recourse in the matter. Get real here,you were told not to and you did it anyway. You are guilty as charged and the judge will find you as such."

Mr. Dudley: It seems that my main point hasn't been voiced yet. I plan on pleading guilty paying the fine, no contest. This isn't a personal battle for me, as the charge is concerned. I was breaking the code, fair and square. I am just very unhappy to learn that our City ever allowed such rotten legislation to pass. My fight is to get the ordinance reexamined by our City Council.

(Report Comment)
Evan Jones July 23, 2009 | 2:23 a.m.

HERE IS SOME INCIDENT CLARIFICATION FROM A NEW DOCUMENT I PUT TOGETHER FOR MY BLOG:
* The Missourian article states that I was given a warning and continued skating, at which point I received the citation. This is mostly correct. I was out skating for fitness on Wednesday, July 14th when I received the initial warning from a bicycle-cop at 8th and Elm, near MU Campus. I was told that there was no skating allowed in the Downtown area and made to take off my skates. At this point I walked in my socks (carrying my skates) West to (what I understand to be) the outer boundary of downtown at Providence Rd. I put my skates back on and skated on Columbia's 'West Side' for about half an hour and then made my way East on Ash St. Exhausted and just hoping to just make it back to my neighborhood (Lions-Stephens) without a citation, I cut through some side streets and East on Park to find myself at Walnut and Orr where I was spotted by the same officer on the bicycle! (Just my luck, right?) I was just trying to get home and avoid the busy evening intersection at College and Paris/Rogers; I had no further intention of ever skating Downtown again. I did not intend to be stubborn or obstinate to the officer's requests; I was very worn out and just wanted to get back to my house. Of course I ended up getting a nice rest sitting on the curb while he wrote my ticket, and a relaxing walk home in my socks! (After reading ordinance 14.5, it actually turns out that most of the skating I did out on the West Side's 'arterial and collector streets' was actually illegal, too.)

THE COMPLETE DOCUMENT (further clarifications and facts surrounding the incident and my intent) CAN BE VIEWED HERE:
http://blog.myspace.com/refbatwing

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro July 23, 2009 | 2:29 a.m.

("It was humiliating.")
Humiliation is a bummer.
I can understand your outrage.
Your "inner-child" should be allowed to skate freely.
Such however is not the case.

Perhaps the Central Business District has begun to enforce the "Letter of the law" instead of just "the spirit of the law."
This will definitely change the tone of downtown's tolerance for the young and vibrant.
Personally, I get startled when walking around downtown and a bicycle, skater or boarder jumps the curb, darts in front of me or cuts me off.
I have no problem with treating "you guys" the same way I'd treat cyclists. Problem is the cyclists are more important to this town then the motorist.
I'm just a lowly motorist.
You'll get no help from me.
Go fight city hall.
I suggest you bring along 19 other skaters to make your plea. It worked for that "honking at bicycle ordinance."
(You might also want to bring some of those roller derby ladies to the council chamber. It should make for some great photo opps. We do have more councilmen then women, you know. See if you can get a permit to have them skate circles around the mayor. This just might give you the edge you need... but like I said, you'll get no help from me.)

(Report Comment)
Evan Jones July 23, 2009 | 3:05 a.m.

Pardon the pathos, Ray Shapiro. I agree with much of what you say. I want to clarify that, yes, this is a fight for City Hall. I AM GOING TO PLEAD GUILTY; THE COP WAS CORRECT; THE ORDINANCE IS THE PROBLEM; I WANT TO FIX THE PROBLEM <-- (not yelling, just emphasizing so that the skimmers might catch it.)

(Why is everyone assuming that I am contesting the charge? I'll pay the measly fine. I just don't agree with the seizure policy or the ordinance itself.)

I have been approved for public comment and will be appearing at next month's City Council meeting with a prepared statement and a stack of signed petitions. This is the only useful weapon I have, I understand.

I am not a political/social radical and I do believe a reasonable compromise can be reached through democratic process. Again, please refer to my blog for a complete clarification of the incident and my position: http://blog.myspace.com/refbatwing

This is not a 'me against the world' scenario.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro July 23, 2009 | 3:59 a.m.

@Evan Jones:
Good luck.
I wish you well.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr July 23, 2009 | 4:46 a.m.

Sure you should plead guilty as charged but the ordinance/law is in place down town and other areas of town for a reason and if you cannot think beyond the scope of that then you obviously never will.

This campaign of yours to city council does not seem to take in all of the risks to any and all other citizens whether they are motorists or pedestrians.

It is the same if I or another citizen in a powered scooter or powered wheel chair were told we could not use the sidewalks and must use the bike lanes or streets themselves. If we got caught breaking the law knowingly then we would be guilty too.

The fact is too many irresponsible bikers and skaters/boarders before you ruined it and continue to ruin it for all so then all must deal with it. That is how society works in this town.

I for one as a pedestrian hate seeing skaters/boarders on the sidewalks,shopping malls and other non authorized places due to the large elderly and disabled population not only in this city but others and all it takes is one irresponsible skater/boarder to send one of the above mentioned to the emergency room or even into a nursing home.

Think of others before you think of yourself Evan you will go alot farther on those skates.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro July 23, 2009 | 5:40 a.m.

I'll compromise. Ban bicycles from downtown and I'm willing to "put up" with roller skaters and skateboarders as long as they are willing to put up with me shouting "watch out I'm walking here," flipping them the bird when they get in my way or cut me off. Also, don't accuse me of harassment if I should honk my horn at ya, so that I don't have to worry about going to jail for a year. I will also promise not to physically throw anything at you or try to mow any skater or boarder down with my gas guzzler.
All this providing that you have nothing to do with PedNet and GetAbout and secure legal representation from an MU attorney or the ACLU.
I will also get the Automobile Association of America to endorse your efforts.
Deal or no deal?
http://inlineskating.about.com/od/whyinl....

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro July 23, 2009 | 6:13 a.m.

("Powered by a 22.5 cc two-stroke engine, a stock Go-Ped will reach top speeds of about 20 mph.")
http://www.cncmagazine.com/archive01/v2i....

Up your energy, your pace & your fun WITHOUT increasing perceived exertion! Popular in Europe, this easy-to-learn activity gets you moving ...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKTufkzpo...

Ghost Rider 2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBeQA1trE...

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 23, 2009 | 10:20 a.m.

Oh my Lord, the pain of the aggrieved non-skater is quite thick here today...

(Report Comment)
Evan Jones July 24, 2009 | 4:22 p.m.

@ Charles Dudley Jr:

No one wants sidewalk skating. I am talking about through-routes on arterial and collector STREETS that will allow a person to go run an errand on his skates or skateboard without the danger having being served a court date and having his property confiscated (and walking home in his SOCKS).

I appreciate your basic message and your consideration for some of the less vocal parties concerned with this issue (seniors and disabled), but your attitude reeks of begrudging contempt, which I do not appreciate.

There are probably only a couple of hundred people who 'skate' on city streets each year (and most of them probably do it less than a couple of times a month). For this reason, I will acknowledge that this is NOT a BIG issue that involves A LOT of people, and simply making civil provisions (even if they do not include downtown/special business district) to protect this small segment of the population from needless 'criminalization' is NOT likely to have any significant impact on pedestrian or motorist safety, by and large. So, why a blanket ordinance that prohibits a sensible, green mode of transportation city-wide? FACT: IT MAKES NO SENSE. (AND I PLAN TO FIGHT IT, TOOTH AND NAIL.)

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro July 24, 2009 | 4:38 p.m.

@Evan Jones:
("No one wants sidewalk skating. I am talking about through-routes on arterial and collector STREETS that will allow a person to go run an errand on his skates or skateboard without the danger having being served a court date and having his property confiscated (and walking home in his SOCKS).")
Sounds reasonable to me.
(You're lucky there's no ordinance for downtown against wearing ugly pants.)

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr July 24, 2009 | 4:49 p.m.

Evan Jones I was told today by a long time resident of the City that the ordinance was enacted after a past City Government employee was almost run over while downtown but the smart arsed lil punk was continually smarting off to said City employee the entire time.

So at the very next City Council meeting the City Council enacted said ordinance. I guess you could say the skaters/boarders did it to themselves.

Also you can blame the other skaters/boarders and such for the continuing of this ordinance too. It needs to stay as it is for a reason and that reason is not so you can have special privilege.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro July 24, 2009 | 8:13 p.m.

("Also you can blame the other skaters/boarders and such for the continuing of this ordinance too.")
I could make the same argument for banning bicycles, (which should be considered in that"other toys" category), hence protecting me from those sidewalk jumping, erratic pednuts from downtown.
Evan has a case.
IMO, the city is being overly discriminating.
They can't have it both ways.
Either ban all these non-motorized "adult toys" or make equal provisions.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr July 24, 2009 | 9:11 p.m.

ray shapiro it is equal because you are not supposed to ride skate boards,skates,two wheel self propelled scooters nor bicycles on the sidewalks down town.

I do believe the skate board/skate ordinance was all avenues of routes due to they are a lil harder to see and compensate for and have no signals nor a horn to alert others around them they come up from behind on.

I do agree with you though about a over all banning or no banning but you cannot have your cake and eat it to with our the over all safety of all citizens considered.

Nobody in this city,especially the Liberal Progressives will ever be happy no matter what gets hashed out by our City Council on this issue guaranteed.

(Report Comment)

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