Police haven’t issued a single citation for illegal bicycle parking since Oberlin’s new law went into effect March 1.
Nor have they confiscated any bikes — but officers have started giving warnings, trying a soft approach before enforcement starts in earnest.
City council unanimously approved an ordinance this past September banning bicycles from being secured to trees, light poles, street signs, or any other public property in the Oberlin’s business district other than bike racks provided by the city. The new law also prohibits a bike to be secured in a spot for longer than 24 hours.
The ordinance also increased the fine for violations from $10 to $20.
According to interim police chief Mike McCloskey, feedback from the public on the new law has been mixed.
“I’ve met with different community groups as part of this education campaign. Most are generally supportive, but there have been some voices of concern that maybe there aren’t enough bike racks downtown to facilitate legal places for bikes to be parked,” McCloskey said. “There have also been some concerns, from more avid cyclists, that the current racks we have in place aren’t the best racks for their expensive bikes.
“They don’t want to chain their bikes to a rack and then have a bunch of other bikes just leaning on top of their bike. They’re advocating for some improved system of racks.”
A month after the law took effect, officers are more interested in educating the public than cracking down, according to McCloskey.
“We’ve done a comprehensive effort to get the word out,” he said. “We’d rather achieve voluntary compliance than have to confiscate people’s bicycles — that creates another whole slew of issues for us.”
Police have distributed a brochure outlining the new law and fine schedule. It also has a map that shows the locations of bike racks located throughout the city’s business district.
The brochures can be found at the Oberlin Business Partnership, Slow Train Cafe, Swerve, the Oberlin Bike Co-op, Oberlin Community Services, parks, and campus security. The department also has information on its social media pages, website, the city’s website, and has worked with Oberlin College to get the word out, according to McCloskey.
Bicycles in violation of the law are being tagged with warning cards.
“We’ll do that just for a few weeks to get the message out that way,” McCloskey said. “We’ll probably begin enforcing the ordinance, hopefully, in April. We really don’t have a set date.”
Once police begin enforcing the law, efforts will be made to have owners move their bikes before a citation is given or the bike is confiscated, according to McCloskey.
“Confiscation would be a last resort — if something’s been out there and we can’t find the bike owner, then we’ll confiscate it.”
Police are also asking bike owners to register their bicycles with the city. That way, it’s easier for lost, stolen, or confiscated bicycles to be returned.
Scott Mahoney can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @sm_mahoney on Twitter.