Takoma Park votes to change bicycle laws

TAKOMA PARK – The City Council voted to amend the City’s bike laws allowing the City manager to permit bicycle riding in specially designated areas Sept. 27.

“Where we landed, in giving the city manager the authority to look at those places that make sense to have bikes on sidewalks and designate them but not do it as a blanket across the city is good policy for right now,” said Takoma Park mayor Kate Stewart.

The ordinance passed unanimously and preserved the citywide ban of riding a bicycle on sidewalks but will it give the City manager, currently Suzanne Ludlow, the discretion to designate areas where riding on the sidewalk is safer than riding in the street.

Amendments to the ordinance also permit wheelchairs and children younger than 12 to ride on sidewalks throughout the City. Adults supervising children riding bicycles are also permitted to ride on the sidewalk.

Residents attending the meeting said they supported the City’s approach.

“I am really liking what I’m seeing, I think it’s a very sensitive issue and I think they’ve written it out in a very nice way,” said Ronda Kearns, 60, a 20-year resident of the City.

“The intent and the understanding of the situation seems to be pretty clear,” she added. Kearns said she rides her bicycle throughout the City for commute and recreational purposes.

“It’s mixed news,” said Arthur David Olsen, 65, a nine-year resident of the City. Olsen said he was concerned about a citywide legalization of bicycling on sidewalks but was encouraged by the legislation in its final form.

He added that, since he does not use a car or bicycle, there was a greater risk for pedestrians with the legislation.

“Bike advocates are eager to have separate bike lanes, we’ve been in a situation where in some sense we had separate pedestrian lanes [sidewalks] which were exclusively for our use and now we’re losing that,” Olsen said.

Councilmember Tim Male was present at the meeting but was unavailable to cast a vote due to family obligations.

The ordinance went into effect immediately after the vote the afternoon of Sept. 27.


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