CPD to enforce sidewalk rules to ensure resident safety

The rules will help pedestrians, motorists and bicyclists feel more safe, according to the CPD.
A cyclist uses the sidewalk on Ninth Street in Columbia. The Columbia Police Department recently announced that officers will issue tickets to cyclists and pedestrians who violate sidewalk safety rules.

The Columbia Police Department announced officers will begin to issue citations to cyclists and pedestrians for related violations in the downtown business district area of Columbia.

Possible ticket-worthy offenses include failing to obey a crosswalk signal, not crossing at a crosswalk, riding a bike on the sidewalk, failing to obey traffic signs either as a cyclist or motorist, and parking or stopping on a crosswalk.

During the first week of April, CPD initiated a warning phase on these issues of pedestrian safety and handed out flyers with common violations listed.

CPD hopes to raise citizen awareness of the issue with the campaign, according to a news release.

CPD Public Information Officer Bryana Maupin said the campaign is a way to ensure citizen safety.

“The enforcement is a friendly reminder of the rules of the road,” she said. “To ensure pedestrian and cyclist safety, it's imperative everyone is aware of the ordinances and follows the ordinances as set out.”

Janet Godon, the GetAbout planner and community outreach coordinator, said the ordinances are important to public safety.

“I think it serves a definite purpose in keeping both cyclists and pedestrians safe,” Godon said. “There are several studies stating that riding on a sidewalk is several times more dangerous than compared to a typical street without cycling facilities.”

Godon said in addition to Columbia’s ordinance against bicyclists riding on sidewalks, state law prohibits the action as well.

“Unfortunately, what many people do not know is that there are limitations for riding a bicycle on a sidewalk in a business district both in the Missouri State Statutes and City of Columbia Code of Ordinances,” Godon said. “So essentially this is a state law, as well as a city ordinance — most states have similar statutes in place.”

Godon said she sees no difference in the way traffic laws should be applied to cycling as they are regularly applied with other violations.

“Enforcement really should be ongoing — just as other traffic laws are enforced,” she said.

Godon said she does not think that riding in the street is unsafe for cyclists.

“A bicycle is considered a vehicle and the safest place for a person riding a bicycle is on the street,” she said. “A cyclist has both the right to ride in the street as well as a responsibility to follow the rules of the road.”

MU Environmental Leadership Office Advisor Amy Eultgen said she also thinks cyclists should avoid sidewalks.

“I would advise cyclists to not use the sidewalks,” Eultgen said. “There is much foot traffic on the sidewalk and navigating around pedestrians can be dangerous.”

Eultgen also said the roads can be safe for cyclists, as long they work with motorists.

“With the appropriate symbiotic relationship between cyclists and motor vehicles, it is not dangerous,” Eultgen said. “There are many resources and groups in town who have identified which streets are more bike-friendly than others.”

Eultgen said cyclists should educate themselves to be aware of potential hazards in the street, as well as motorists.

“Cyclists should educate themselves on various aspects of riding on the street with motor vehicles, such as watching for the ‘door zone,’ or approximately three feet from a parked car,” Eultgen said. “In the same vein, motor vehicles should take caution when entering traffic again from being parked, such as using a blinker and looking for not only other motor vehicles, but also cyclists.”

Eultgen pointed out, however, that with the citations there needs to be an explanation.

“I hope that with the ticketing there is an additional education piece on what to do instead,” Eultgen said. “For example, you cannot simply tell a child not to take things out of another child’s hand without asking and then be done with the conversation; you need to explain what sharing is and how to do it.”

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