Police seek to raise awareness about bicycle ordinance
LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) -- Ryan Tymeson works at a downtown law office, and said he frequently walks through the nearby, bustling areas of 3rd and 4th streets, as well as 5th avenue.
"I carry paperwork to different law firms, and I go to the courthouse as well," he said.
But Tymeson added that on each walk, he finds himself in too close for comfort situations involving bicyclists "about two to three times."
A La Crosse city ordinance prohibits biking on sidewalks in the "business district," which as defined by a state statute includes the downtown area.
"You can bike downtown, you just have to make sure you stay on the street," said La Crosse Police Lt. Pat Hogan, who added that biking on sidewalks in residential areas is not prohibited as long as cyclists are traveling at "safe" speeds.
"You wouldn't want a situation downtown where someone is coming out of a business, out of a door, and all of a sudden there's a bike coming by at the same time," Hogan said.
"That's the reason," he added, "for the safety of the pedestrians and also for the bicyclist to make sure they're safe in not falling off of their bikes."
But, as Tymeson can attest to, not everyone follows the rules.
A News 19 camera crew stood at a major intersection downtown Wednesday and spotted nine bikers riding on sidewalks in just one hour.
"It's quite startling to have a bike come up behind you," Tymeson said, "especially at a fast pace."
Hogan said bicyclists seen riding on downtown sidewalks by police are usually issued a warning. Repeat offenders can find themselves before the La Crosse Municipal Court or, if they are under 16 years of age, the city's juvenile court.
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