Board discusses bicycle ordinance

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The Perryville Board of Aldermen made quick work of the first meeting of the year. Although, there was one item on the agenda that brought out a lot of discussion. The board discussed at length a measure that would allow bicycles to be ridden outside the Downtown Square.
It was recently pointed out to city staff the absolute prohibition of bicycles on sidewalks is probably outdated and should be reconsidered. Major Bill Jones and the Police Department researched this matter and proposed several changes, which have been identified. If approved, bicycles on sidewalks would be allowed outside of the Downtown Square. According to Perryville City Administrator Brent Buerck, this seems to be a logical step and will help ensure bicyclist safety, particularly for the younger children. Perryville Assistant Police Chief Bill Jones echoed the same sentiment.
“The way the ordinance reads now there is no riding bicycles on sidewalks,” Jones said. “That’s good in a way and bad in a way as well. Some of these streets like Edgemont which are busier that have a lot of traffic, I would like to see the kids and young adults riding on the sidewalk than on the street.”
Jones noted that with a busier street, there is more likelihood of accidents involving bike riders.
“To me it’s very dangerous for bikes on the street,” Jones said. “As long as the bike riders follow the rules and the recommended ordinance which is that they would yield to a pedestrian on the sidewalk. As long as that is not abused, it keeps everyone safe.”
Right now, in the city ordinances in Chapter 10.36.060, it is stated that “No person shall operate a bicycle on any sidewalks within the city.”
Brent Buerck noted that a change in any ordinance would not be mandatory, but a recommendation.
There was some push back from several aldermen, including Curt Buerck. “Some people, especially kids are not going to know to alert older people on the sidewalk. I understand the safety, but what if someone doesn’t stop their bike to allow an older person to walk by. They would have to step off the sidewalk and what if they break a hip.”
Curt Buerck and Clint Rice, who noted that he rides a bike regularly, said that there should be an age limit for those who ride on the sidewalk as opposed to those who ride in the street, which is where bikes are allowed to ride as of now.

“I think there should be an age limit,” Curt Buerck said.
Under the new proposal, bikes would be allowed to be ridden in the business district.
“The purpose is not to write anyone a ticket if we see them,” Jones said. “It’s to keep the kids off the streets if they wish to ride their bikes. However, they should follow all the rules when it comes to the pedestrians.”
Rice said he feels safer riding on the roads.
“I feel safer riding on the road, partly because I ride too fast to be on the sidewalk,” he said. “You’re going to encounter drivers who don’t like cyclists and they always say that we should ride on the sidewalk. Obviously, we aren’t allowed to ride on the sidewalk right now and if we change this rule then that changes things. If a kid feels safer on the sidewalk then that is where they should be.”
The conclusion among the board was that kids under the age of 16 can ride on the sidewalk and people over 16 should ride in the street unless accompanied by an adult. The ordinance will be crafted using those parameters.
In other news, the board approved a ballot issue to an inposition of a three percent marijuana tax.
In his report, Brent Buerck dicussed the 100th anniversary Chamber of Commerce Dinner on January 19 and a groundbreaking set for the Justice Center on Jan. 9 at noon.
To kick off the meeting, the board welcomed two new police officers, Levi Fortner and Joseph Boyd.
The next meeting will be on Jan. 17.

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