COLUMBIA — Fourth Ward Councilman Jerry Wade and Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala disagreed again about the ordinance concerning the harassment of bicyclists during Monday night's City Council meeting.
Wade believes the bicycle harassment ordinance should be suspended and said last month that "we (the council) should have explored whether the ordinance was even necessary or if there were better options."
Skala issued a statement Monday detailing his position against the suspension.
"If Mr. Wade wants to speak to his own actions on the bike harassment ordinance and as to what he perceives to have happened at the meeting on June 15, he has every right to do so," Skala said. "I would appreciate, however, that he not include me in the 'we'."
Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe supported Skala, saying, "I'm still supportive of keeping it and moving forward." Hoppe cited the positive feedback she's seen from the community.
"I saw a group of people waving at me while I was riding my bike. I guess I was riding on the right side and following the law," she said. "We need more time and education."
The ordinance makes harassment of bicyclists — including throwing objects, verbal assault and other offenses — a misdemeanor offense punishable by a $1,000 fine or one year of jail time.
In his statement, Skala identified three things that should be considered before thinking about suspending the ordinance. First, Skala recommends the ordinance be amended to include pedestrians and wheelchair users.
Second, he asserts the ordinance hasn't been in effect long enough for the results to be seen. Third, like Wade, he acknowledges a polarization exists between bicyclists and motorists. But he believes mitigating harassment against any group is a basic public safety responsibility of the council.
Meanwhile, City Manager Bill Watkins has opted to form a task force to take an in-depth look at Columbia's relations between cyclists and motorists, thus providing more insight to the council on the issue. He plans for the task force to meet later this month.
Wade also issued a proposal on how to create better communication and interaction between cyclists and motorists. His suggestions include a community dialogue session.
The council will vote Aug. 17 on whether or not to suspend the ordinance for six months, and if the ordinance should include pedestrians and wheelchair users.