You might say it’s a “no-Schwinn” situation.
To keep downtown sidewalks clear, Oberlin city council members passed an ordinance Sept. 6 increasing the fine for illegally parked bicycles from $10 to $20 and allowing police discretion to cut locks to seize bikes.
The change takes effect Oct. 5.
Police chief Juan Torres said the goal is compliance through education but sometimes confiscations and fines are necessary for chronic offenders. He stressed seizures would be a last resort.
“I don’t want people to think we’re just going to be out there confiscating bikes,” he told council. “This is more about changing behavior.”
The ordinance limits parking to a maximum of 24 hours per day — up from two hours — and says bikes must be in racks or posts but not on public property, stop signs, streetlights, or trees in the right-of-way.
Councilman Bryan Burgess convinced council to tweak the ordinance, allowing riders to briefly leave their bikes unlocked in front of stores they are shopping in as long as they aren’t blocking the right-of-way.
The ordinance says “no person shall secure a bike upon a sidewalk except in a properly constructed rack or upon a roadway so as to unduly interfere with vehicular traffic.” Burgess convinced council to use the word “secure” rather than “park,” which was in the old ordinance.
There are 45 racks downtown that can accommodate up to 427 bikes. Acting city manager Sal Talarico said the city is exploring adding racks.
Talarico said finding the right place for racks is “challenging but not insurmountable.” Using Tappan Square is a possibility if Oberlin College, which owns the square, allows it.
Councilwoman Sharon Soucy emphasized Oberlin will remain bicycle friendly but said riders need to park responsibly. She asked Torres to check back with council in December to see whether the ordinance needs changes.
“At some point, we have to put our confidence in the chief and his men that they will handle this with wisdom,” she said. “I’m convinced you will.”
Evan Goodenow can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @GoodenowNews on Twitter.
Photos by Evan Goodenow | Oberlin News-Tribune Bicycles are seen parked illegally outside the Slow Train Cafe on Sept. 7. A new ordinance allowing police to confiscate illegally parked bicycles has been approved by city council members, partially inspired by complaints about bikes blocking the right-of-way in front of Slow Train.