To the editor:
It was such a simple problem that it required only a short directive: Park your bike so that it doesn’t block a sidewalk.
But here is the directive that results from the soon-to-be-passed ordinance.
You must park (not necessarily lock) your bike in a properly constructed rack (not defined — what about those little posts with rings at the top?), not to a tree, a street light, a stop sign, or public property (trash and recycling bins?) for not longer than 24 hours. But it is OK to park on the brick pavers (according to acting city manager Sal Talarico, although this is not in the ordinance).
Violators will be subject to a $20 fine and possible confiscation of the bicycle (plus destruction of the lock should you have wanted your bike not to be stolen) unless the police officer decides the offense is not so bad and wants to promote the image of the city as a bicycle friendly community.
You may ignore the ticket if the officer cannot determine the owner of the bicycle, so don’t be around when the ticket is issued. But be warned that if the owner can’t be identified, the bike may be confiscated. If you have registered your bike (as you are encouraged to do so that if it is stolen, you might get it back), the police can know the owner to fine. However your registration is proof of ownership, so you can get your bike back after you pay the fine. Thus it’s OK if it is not your bike because it is only the owner who is responsible. So borrow a friend’s bike to shop downtown.
These directives apply only to Main Street between Vine and the crosswalk in front of Hall Auditorium and to College Street between Professor and Pleasant streets. So it OK to block sidewalks elsewhere in town.
I am looking forward to appropriate signage being prominently posted about the new ordinance. After all the signs saying that it is illegal to make a left turn into an angled parking place are still coming.