Girls bicycle, break the law

Discussion in 'rec.bicycles.soc archive' started by Missoulabiker, May 1, 2003.

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  1. Girls bicycle, break the law

    By RAYMOND L. SMITH Tribune Chronicle

    NEWTON FALLS - A Sunday afternoon bicycle ride through Newton Falls taught two Newton Township teens
    lessons in humility and the law.

    As Alexis Seifert and Shaney Warner, both 14, briskly road their bikes through downtown Newton
    Falls, they said they failed to notice a city police car following them. The girls said they were
    riding, giggling and minding their own business when the cruiser pulled beside them.

    ''We didn't notice him until he yelled out of his window for us to pull into the Rite Aid parking
    lot,'' Alexis said. ''He told us we couldn't ride our bikes on the city's parking lot and then said
    we should go to police station. He was not very nice.''

    Once at the police station, police told the girls to call home because their bicycles were going to
    be confiscated. The girls' parents weren't home and they had to walk home.

    ''We ride our bikes through Newton Falls on the sidewalk all of the time and never have been stopped
    before,'' Alexis said. ''I've never seen a sign that says no bike riding on the sidewalks. We always
    ride on the sidewalks. No one I know has been stopped.''

    As the girls walked home, Shaney's parents happened to be driving through the downtown area.

    ''I would think in that area of town, the city would want kids to ride on the sidewalk,'' Michael
    Warner said. ''There is a lot of traffic on Broad Street. It was Sunday. All of the businesses were
    closed. No one was going to get hurt.

    But police Chief Robert Carlson said the law has been on the books since 1963.

    He said he recently told officers to pay attention to violators after receiving complaints from
    business owners and patrons.

    In the two weeks since Carlson ordered his officers to enforce the sidewalk law in the two-block
    business district, his officers have confiscated between eight and 10 bicycles.

    ''They all have been from township residents,'' he said.

    What has Michael Warner upset is that fact that police had the girls walk home.

    ''What if they were 7 or 8 years old.We live a mile from the police station. If the police were
    going to take their bikes, they should have taken them home. Would they have made them walk home
    then,'' he said.

    Gayle Johns, Alexis' mother, said she is frustrated that her daughter was pulled over and her bike
    being taken away.

    Johns, 4879 Fairport Road, Newton Township, said if the police had to take the bicycles the girls
    should have been given a ticket and required to remain at the police station until their parents
    could pick them and their bicycles up.

    ''I live about one-and-a-half miles away from the police station,'' she said.

    Johns, who has lived in the Newton Township area all her life, said she did not realize the city had
    an ordinance against riding bicycles in the downtown area.

    ''I never heard about them taking the kids' property away,'' she said.

    Carlson said he doesn't know why people are confused about the law.

    ''We have at least four signs between Canal and Broad street and Center and Broad street, that
    states kids cannot ride their bicycles on the sidewalk,'' Carlson said. ''This law has been on the
    books since 1963.''

    Carlson admits that he only recently told his officers to begin watching Broad Street and enforcing
    what says is an often ignored law.

    ''In the last several weeks, I've had a number of patrons of various stores call the department
    complaining they were hit or almost hit by kids riding bikes on the sidewalks,'' Carlson said. ''On
    Broad Street the doors to the stores open right on the street, so when people leave the stores they
    can get hit if kids are riding their bikes and don't notice them coming out.''

    In addition to the sidewalk ordinance, Carlson also told the girls' parents city regulations require
    any bicyclist to have a license for their bikes.

    ''It does not have to be a Newton Falls bicycle license,'' he said. ''They just have to have one.''

    Johns said she is not encouraging her daughter to break the law.

    ''I'm upset they suddenly began enforcing this 37-year-old law without any public notification,''
    Johns said.

    Carlson said if someone is caught riding on the sidewalk in the downtown business district a second
    time, they will be charged and have to go to court, unless they pay a fine.
     
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  2. Ken

    Ken Guest

    "MissoulaBiker" <[email protected]> wrote in news:[email protected]:
    > Girls bicycle, break the law

    They were riding their bikes on the sidewalk in the city business district. That is against the law
    in my town as well (and probably most towns in the USA).

    On the other hand, confiscating their bikes sounds pretty harsh. They should have been given a
    warning or at most a citation. Do speeders and jay walkers get jail time in this town?
     
  3. Mitch Haley

    Mitch Haley Guest

    Ken wrote:
    > On the other hand, confiscating their bikes sounds pretty harsh. They should have been given a
    > warning or at most a citation. Do speeders and jay walkers get jail time in this town?

    No, they just confiscate their cars and shoes. ;-) Seriously, I wonder about the legal implications
    of denying private property rights without due process. (Like the community in Georgia which likes
    to take kids' bikes away for riding without foam hats.) I do think something needs to be done about
    teenagers riding "briskly" on the pedestrian paths, but seizing property w/o a trial is not
    reasonable. Mitch.
     
  4. Thus said Ken <[email protected]>:
    >"MissoulaBiker" <[email protected]> wrote in news:[email protected]:
    >> Girls bicycle, break the law
    >
    >They were riding their bikes on the sidewalk in the city business district. That is against the law
    >in my town as well (and probably most towns in the USA).

    Dunno, about "most" but there are plenty where that's the case. Often there are exceptions for young
    people, though.

    >On the other hand, confiscating their bikes sounds pretty harsh. They should have been given a
    >warning or at most a citation. Do speeders and jay walkers get jail time in this town?

    I'd suppose that a jaywalker would have his shoes confiscated.

    Agreed, particularly for a law that had gone a long time without enforcement, beginning with
    warnings seems much more appropriate. I could even understand impounding the bicycles, but
    confiscating them? One wonders if they will mysteriously find their way to the children of cops (and
    whether even they have "bicycle licenses", ridiculous concept that is.)
     
  5. Pete

    Pete Guest

    "Marc VanHeyningen" <[email protected]> wrote

    >
    > Agreed, particularly for a law that had gone a long time without enforcement, beginning with
    > warnings seems much more appropriate. I could even understand impounding the bicycles, but
    > confiscating them? One wonders if they will mysteriously find their way to the children of cops
    > (and whether even they have "bicycle licenses", ridiculous concept that is.)

    " if someone is caught riding on the sidewalk in the downtown business district a second time, they
    will be charged and have to go to court, unless they pay a fine."

    Those last few words seem to be pivotal.

    Riding on the sidewalk is usually illegal. But to suddenly enforce (with confiscation) a previously
    ignored law is bad politics at best.

    Pete
     
  6. On Fri, 2 May 2003 00:28:03 +0000 (UTC) in rec.bicycles.soc, [email protected] (Marc
    VanHeyningen) wrote:

    > Agreed, particularly for a law that had gone a long time without enforcement, beginning with
    > warnings seems much more appropriate. I could even understand impounding the bicycles, but
    > confiscating them? One wonders if they will mysteriously find their way to the children of cops
    > (and whether even they have "bicycle licenses", ridiculous concept that is.)

    you'd think that they would send a notice out through the schools, something that kids could
    take home.
     
  7. John Everett

    John Everett Guest

    On Thu, 1 May 2003 14:03:49 -0600, "MissoulaBiker" <[email protected]> wrote:

    >Girls bicycle, break the law
    >
    >
    >By RAYMOND L. SMITH Tribune Chronicle
    >
    >
    >NEWTON FALLS - A Sunday afternoon bicycle ride through Newton Falls taught two Newton Township
    >teens lessons in humility and the law.
    >
    >As Alexis Seifert and Shaney Warner, both 14, briskly road their bikes through downtown Newton
    >Falls, they said they failed to notice a city police car following them. The girls said they were
    >riding, giggling and minding their own business when the cruiser pulled beside them.
    >
    >''We didn't notice him until he yelled out of his window for us to pull into the Rite Aid parking
    >lot,'' Alexis said. ''He told us we couldn't ride our bikes on the city's parking lot and then said
    >we should go to police station. He was not very nice.''
    >
    >Once at the police station, police told the girls to call home because their bicycles were going to
    >be confiscated. The girls' parents weren't home and they had to walk home.

    Seems to me here's a opportunity for some attorney to provide a pro bono service and also create
    some goodwill for himself. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution (in addition to the provision
    about self-incrimination) also says that no citizen shall "be deprived of life, liberty, or
    property, without due process of law".

    Perhaps it's a cause the local ACLU might like to take on.

    jeverett3<AT>earthlink<DOT>net http://home.earthlink.net/~jeverett3
     
  8. Justice was not served in this case. The 'letter of the law' may have been followed but the event
    reflects poorly on the judgment of the local authorities. The article says the teens were taught a
    lesson. I'm sure they did learn something about law enforcement. Like stay away from the police.

    "Dennis P. Harris" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:p[email protected]...
    > On Fri, 2 May 2003 00:28:03 +0000 (UTC) in rec.bicycles.soc, [email protected] (Marc
    > VanHeyningen) wrote:
    >
    > > Agreed, particularly for a law that had gone a long time without enforcement, beginning with
    > > warnings seems much more appropriate. I could even understand impounding the bicycles, but
    > > confiscating them? One wonders if they will mysteriously find their way to the children of cops
    > > (and whether even they have "bicycle licenses", ridiculous concept that is.)
    >
    > you'd think that they would send a notice out through the schools, something that kids could
    > take home.
     
  9. Ken -Lsqny)

    Ken -Lsqny) Guest

    On Thu, 01 May 2003 22:17:57 -0800, [email protected] (Dennis P. Harris) ranted:

    >On Fri, 2 May 2003 00:28:03 +0000 (UTC) in rec.bicycles.soc, [email protected] (Marc
    >VanHeyningen) wrote:
    >
    >> Agreed, particularly for a law that had gone a long time without enforcement, beginning with
    >> warnings seems much more appropriate. I could even understand impounding the bicycles, but
    >> confiscating them? One wonders if they will mysteriously find their way to the children of cops
    >> (and whether even they have "bicycle licenses", ridiculous concept that is.)
    >
    >you'd think that they would send a notice out through the schools, something that kids could
    >take home.

    ''We have at least four signs between Canal and Broad street and Center and Broad street, that
    states kids cannot ride their bicycles on the sidewalk,'' Carlson said. ''This law has been on the
    books since 1963.'' Anyone who saw the signs were notified. Anyone who can't read the signs now
    knows, because of what happened, that they shouldn't ride on the sidewalks. Law enforcement
    educates. Anyway, ignorance is no defense for not obeying laws. Sincerely, Ken (NY) Chairman,
    Department Of Redundancy Department
    ____________________________________
    email: http://www.geocities.com/bluesguy68/email.htm

    Raise your right hand if you like the French... Raise both hands if you are French.
     
  10. Thus said "Ken [NY)" <[email protected]_text>:
    >On Thu, 01 May 2003 22:17:57 -0800, [email protected] (Dennis P. Harris) ranted:
    >>On Fri, 2 May 2003 00:28:03 +0000 (UTC) in rec.bicycles.soc, [email protected] (Marc
    >>VanHeyningen) wrote:
    >>> Agreed, particularly for a law that had gone a long time without enforcement, beginning with
    >>> warnings seems much more appropriate. I could even understand impounding the bicycles, but
    >>> confiscating them? One wonders if they will mysteriously find their way to the children of cops
    >>> (and whether even they have "bicycle licenses", ridiculous concept that is.)
    >>
    >>you'd think that they would send a notice out through the schools, something that kids could
    >>take home.
    >
    >''We have at least four signs between Canal and Broad street and Center and Broad street, that
    >states kids cannot ride their bicycles on the sidewalk,'' Carlson said. ''This law has been on the
    >books since 1963.''

    I don't know enough about the geography of the area to know whether those signs are close to the
    area in question. There's also no indication that there was any attempt to independently verify this
    fact; it may be that the speaker is mistaken, that the signs were there ten years ago, the signs are
    so faded as to be illegible, or something.

    > Anyone who saw the signs were notified. Anyone who can't read the signs now knows, because
    > of what happened, that they shouldn't ride on the sidewalks. Law enforcement educates.
    > Anyway, ignorance is no defense for not obeying laws.

    Generally true, but it doesn't answer the issue of whether the punishment fit the crime, or whether
    there was any due process of law or whether the citing officer was independently handing out
    punishment.
     
  11. Austinboston

    Austinboston Guest

    Ken [NY) wrote:
    > Anyone who saw the signs were notified. Anyone who can't read the signs now knows, because
    > of what happened, that they shouldn't ride on the sidewalks. Law enforcement educates.
    > Anyway, ignorance is no defense for not obeying laws.

    Ignorance is no defense, but the courts have repeatedly stated that you can't suddenly start
    enforcing a law that has been ignored for long periods of time without fair warning. Had the signs
    been there since 1963?

    Austin
     
  12. Marc VanHeyningen wrote:
    >
    > Thus said "Ken [NY)" <[email protected]_text>:
    > >
    > >''We have at least four signs between Canal and Broad street and Center and Broad street, that
    > >states kids cannot ride their bicycles on the sidewalk,'' Carlson said. ''This law has been on
    > >the books since 1963.''
    >
    > I don't know enough about the geography of the area to know whether those signs are close to the
    > area in question. There's also no indication that there was any attempt to independently verify
    > this fact; it may be that the speaker is mistaken, that the signs were there ten years ago, the
    > signs are so faded as to be illegible, or something.

    Interestingly, Newton Falls is where our club's annual century ride is based. Now, I've never seen
    the signs - but then, I'd never ride on the sidewalk, which is where they probably are.

    The street in question is wide and slow, and the storefronts are still used. The kids really should
    be in the street. Riding on those sidewalks could lead to a pedestrian getting injured. I have no
    problem with that law.

    > > Anyone who saw the signs were notified. Anyone who can't read the signs now knows, because
    > > of what happened, that they shouldn't ride on the sidewalks. Law enforcement educates.
    > > Anyway, ignorance is no defense for not obeying laws.
    >
    > Generally true, but it doesn't answer the issue of whether the punishment fit the crime, or
    > whether there was any due process of law or whether the citing officer was independently handing
    > out punishment.

    Confiscating of bikes is another matter, in my book. Seems to me the cops need a different mechanism
    for enforcing that law.

    However, the "ignorance of the law is no excuse" line works very badly for the _other_ law
    mentioned! We get about 500 riders from hundreds of miles around riding there in September. It's
    _way_ beyond unreasonable to require (as Newton Falls claims it does) that every bicycle must have a
    license! Licensing bikes makes about as much sense as licensing hiking boots.

    (Yeah, I know - M.V. probably wants hiking boots licensed. ;-)

    --
    Frank Krygowski [email protected]
     
  13. Mitch Haley

    Mitch Haley Guest

    Frank Krygowski wrote:
    > It's _way_ beyond unreasonable to require (as Newton Falls claims it does) that every bicycle
    > must have a license!

    I think it's about as reasonable as requiring me to have a front license plate on my car if I travel
    to their city. (Michigan doesn't issue front plates) In either case, if an armed man tried to steal
    my vehicle, which is fully compliant with my local laws, I might become extremely violent.

    Mitch.
     
  14. John Everett wrote:
    > Seems to me here's a opportunity for some attorney to provide a pro bono service and also create
    > some goodwill for himself. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution (in addition to the provision
    > about self-incrimination) also says that no citizen shall "be deprived of life, liberty, or
    > property, without due process of law".

    There are, of course, exceptions. Contraband (evidence) and weapons can be siezed. I don't think
    bikes qualify as that though. This has to be an illegal seizure. Of course, that didn't stop the DEA
    back in the days of zero tolerance.

    --Bill Davidson
    --
    Please remove ".nospam" from my address for email replies.
     
  15. Mitch Haley

    Mitch Haley Guest

    Bill Davidson wrote:
    > There are, of course, exceptions. Contraband (evidence) and weapons can be siezed. I don't think
    > bikes qualify as that though. This has to be an illegal seizure. Of course, that didn't stop the
    > DEA back in the days of zero tolerance.

    I thought of another possibility. Newspapers are good at using terminology incorrectly. What if the
    bikes were impounded as unregistered vehicles and not seized? Sounds unlikely though, as it didn't
    sound like the girls were told they could ride home if they licensed their bikes. Mitch.
     
  16. In article <[email protected]>, "Pete" <[email protected]> wrote:

    > "Marc VanHeyningen" <[email protected]> wrote
    >
    > >
    > > Agreed, particularly for a law that had gone a long time without enforcement, beginning with
    > > warnings seems much more appropriate. I could even understand impounding the bicycles, but
    > > confiscating them? One wonders if they will mysteriously find their way to the children of cops
    > > (and whether even they have "bicycle licenses", ridiculous concept that is.)
    >
    > " if someone is caught riding on the sidewalk in the downtown business district a second time,
    > they will be charged and have to go to court, unless they pay a fine."
    >
    > Those last few words seem to be pivotal.
    >
    > Riding on the sidewalk is usually illegal. But to suddenly enforce (with confiscation) a
    > previously ignored law is bad politics at best.
    >
    > Pete

    I'd agree. And to start with a couple of girls and then confiscate their bikes and make them walk
    all the way home...not smart.

    They should have started out by giving everyone in town ample warning, then warning them the first
    time they stopped them for it, and only fining them the second time. Also, it would have been wiser
    to either drive the offenders home (at least if under legal age) or make them call their parents and
    have them come pick them up from the police station.

    Wow, I wonder what it would be like in Binghamton if this kind of rule was finally enforced...they'd
    have their hands full confiscating the bikes of people in their 20s and 30s before they even got
    around to the kids! And if they arrested everyone who rides on the wrong side of the road...the
    jails would be full in a day!
    --
    Trudi "Just like Pagliacci did..."--Smokey Robinson
    ____
    Say NO to secret judging and corruption in skating -- support SkateFAIR! http://www.skatefair.org
     
  17. Bill Zaumen

    Bill Zaumen Guest

    In article <[email protected]>, Frank Krygowski <[email protected]> wrote:

    > Marc VanHeyningen wrote:
    > >
    > > Thus said "Ken [NY)" <[email protected]_text>:
    > > >
    > > >''We have at least four signs between Canal and Broad street and Center and Broad street, that
    > > >states kids cannot ride their bicycles on the sidewalk,'' Carlson said. ''This law has been on
    > > >the books since 1963.''
    > > ^^^^
    <snip>
    > > it may be that the speaker is mistaken, that the signs were there ten years ago, the signs are
    > > so faded as to be illegible, or something.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^
    > > > Anyone who saw the signs were notified. Anyone who can't read the signs now knows,
    > > > because of what happened, that they shouldn't ride on the sidewalks. Law enforcement
    > > > educates. Anyway, ignorance is
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    > > >no defense for not obeying laws.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    > >
    > > Generally true, but it doesn't answer the issue of whether the punishment fit the crime, or
    > > whether there was any due process of law or whether the citing officer was independently handing
    > > out punishment.
    >
    > Confiscating of bikes is another matter, in my book. Seems to me the cops need a different
    > mechanism for enforcing that law.

    Aside from the fact that no one in our emerging police state is supposed to be deprived of their
    property without due process (an artifact of our former democracy), you generally cannot be cited
    for such offenses regardless of what laws are on the books unless signage is posted and is readable.

    The rule in California is that local jurisdictions can regulate bicycle use on the sidewalk, just as
    they can regulate parking. You cannot, however, issue a parking citation for what would nominally be
    properly parked car unless there a sign (or a red stripe along the curb, which is equivalent): it is
    simply impractical for the public to tell otherwise, You can't reasonably be expected to carry a
    large book listing all the current parking restrictions in the state and consult it each time you
    try to park your vehicle. The same principle applies to bicycle use on the sidewalk.

    Signs do fade with time and it is believable that anything posted in 1963 would be unreadable today.
    BTW, on a rainy weekend we once went over to nearby school where they had constructed an outside
    climbing wall. There were some bolts on the wall, so we led one or two routes. Someone came by and
    told us that they didn't want people leading routes, pointing to a paper sign taped some distance up
    that had faded due to being out in the weather to the point that it looked like a blank piece of
    paper. The guy said soemthing about telling people to cut ropes if anyone climbed there, and I
    suggested if they tried that, there would be a violent response. These ropes cost over $100 and
    cutting one while in use could result in a serious injury or death, and you do have a right to
    protect your property from theft or vandalism on the part of random members of the public.

    Bill

    --
    Due to the level of spam, I no longer accept email, except from a few select individuals.
     
  18. Ken -Lsqny)

    Ken -Lsqny) Guest

    On Fri, 2 May 2003 17:28:26 +0000 (UTC), [email protected] (Marc VanHeyningen) ranted:

    >> Anyone who saw the signs were notified. Anyone who can't read the signs now knows, because
    >> of what happened, that they shouldn't ride on the sidewalks. Law enforcement educates.
    >> Anyway, ignorance is no defense for not obeying laws.
    >
    >Generally true, but it doesn't answer the issue of whether the punishment fit the crime, or whether
    >there was any due process of law or whether the citing officer was independently handing out
    >punishment.

    Carlson said if someone is caught riding on the sidewalk in the downtown business district a second
    time, they will be charged and have to go to court, unless they pay a fine.

    So the punishment was a warning. Not much of a punishment to be worrying about. I think this
    whole thing was like how Seinfeld described his show - a lot about nothing. If that is the
    most newsworthy law enforcement issue in Newton Falls, the people are very lucky they don't
    have criminals who can hurt teen girls walking home. By the way, Regards, Ken (NY) Chairman,
    Department Of Redundancy Department
    ____________________________________
    email: http://www.geocities.com/bluesguy68/email.htm

    Why Don't Americans ask themsleves: "Why couldn't Al Gore Carry his own home state?"
     
  19. Ken -Lsqny)

    Ken -Lsqny) Guest

    On Fri, 02 May 2003 14:25:42 GMT, John Everett <[email protected]> ranted:

    >Perhaps it's a cause the local ACLU might like to take on.

    They are a little too busy trying to get terrorist suspects out of jails.

    Ken (NY) Chairman, Department Of Redundancy Department
    ____________________________________
    email: http://www.geocities.com/bluesguy68/email.htm

    Why Don't Americans ask themsleves: "Why couldn't Al Gore Carry his own home state?"
     
  20. Mitch Haley

    Mitch Haley Guest

    John Everett wrote:
    > Perhaps it's a cause the local ACLU might like to take on.

    The ACLU doesn't even like to take on police brutality cases, as long as the cops are equal
    opportunity felons. If they only beat up minorities, then the ACLU will do something, but if they
    beat up everybody, then it's ok as far as the ACLU is concerned. I quit supporting the ACLU when I
    figured out that they don't support all Constututionally guaranteed rights, just some of them, and
    only for some people. (making them no better or worse than Democrats & Republicans) Mitch.
     
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