Are you a law breaker?

Wallace gives 10 most commonly broken Oberlin laws

By Laurie Hamame -



Most people probably consider themselves law-abiding citizens. They pay taxes. They obey traffic signals. They don’t even jaywalk.

But there are a handful of city ordinances in Oberlin that are violated several times per day, according to community service officer Henry Wallace.

You’ve probably seen him walking the downtown area, chalking tires, chasing loose dogs, and patrolling parks on the Oberlin police department’s Segway. Listening to the police scanner, our news team has certainly grown used to hearing his voice throughout the day as he handles issues all over town.

There are 10 ordinances that Wallace said he frequently spots being violated. When he stops to enforce them, most people say they never knew the rules existed.

“I usually ask them if they are first-year college students. If they say yes, then I can understand them not knowing,” he said. “But if you’ve been around here a while, then there’s no excuse for not knowing.”

Here are the big 10:

1. Bicycles can only be ridden on the roadway in downtown Oberlin. The business district extends one block from South Main and College streets in all four directions. Outside of this area, bicyclists can ride freely on sidewalks.

2. Only one person can ride on a bike with a single handle bar and one set of foot pegs. A tandem bike must be used in order to travel in twos. It’s not just bikes — all toy vehicles, including roller skates, roller blades, scooters, and hover boards, can only be ridden on sidewalks outside of the downtown region.

3. All bikes are required to be licensed. Get your licensed for free at the police station; just take the make, model, and serial number and a list of identifiable parts.

4. When left unattended, bicycles must be locked to one of the bike racks throughout the city. Riders cannot secure their bike on a street or to any public property, including trees, light poles, sign posts, and benches. “And if they do, I will come along and cut it off and tow the bike,” Wallace said.

5. There is a two-hour limit for cars parked downtown. The spots on South Main Street from the cross walk just in front of Hall Auditorium to Lorain Street allow for all-day parking. On side streets, drivers can park for 48 hours straight, but that ends Nov. 1 when Oberlin’s snow ban kicks in. Then there is no parking overnight on any side street until April 1.

6. J-turns are illegal. Most often, Wallace sees them done when drivers want to park on the other side of the street, so they loop 180 degrees across the double yellow line. U-turns are also illegal.

7. Vehicles cannot be backed into parking spaces downtown, with the exception of trucks that are loading or unloading. “In order to back in, you have to pull across the center line and you just broke the law,” Wallace said.

8. Cars are supposed to park within 12 inches of the curb when they are pulled into a parking space. Wallace has seen cars five feet from the curb, which leaves their back ends stuck out in traffic.

9. Parking is not allowed on front lawns anywhere in town. Side street park jobs cannot block private driveways. “We get calls all the time about a student parking in front of someone’s driveway so they can’t get in or out. We’ve had to tow people’s cars away because we couldn’t find the driver and homeowners had to leave,” Wallace said.

10. Cars cannot be left running unattended with the doors unlocked or keys in the ignition. “You’re encouraging somebody to steal it and I’ve seen it happen,” Wallace said.

Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.

Wallace gives 10 most commonly broken Oberlin laws

By Laurie Hamame