Saturday, November 20, 2010

Riding Bikes On Downtown Spokane Sidewalks

I see people riding bikes on downtown sidewalks all the time, but riding on the sidewalk is not permitted in the retail zone as designated by the Spokane Municipal Code. I'm wondering if it's necessary. First of all, I've never seen it enforced. (The city has a bike helmet requirement and the police are too busy too enforce that as well.) Secondly, how do you know where riding on the sidewalk is prohibited unless you read the municipal code? You don't.

Spokane Municipal Code 16A.61.787 states:

No person may ride a bicycle or non-motorized vehicle upon any sidewalk or other pedestrian way within the retail zone of the congested district of the City as defined by SMC 16A.04.010 and SMC 16A.04.020, provided that nothing contained herein shall be construed to prohibit the riding of a bicycle or non-motorized vehicle upon any sidewalk or other pedestrian way within any area other than the retail zone of the congested district of the City.

And SMC 16A.04.020 states:

"Retail zone of the congested district" means all the area within the congested district bounded as follows:

On the north by the north line of Spokane Falls Boulevard;

On the west by the west line of Monroe Street;

On the south by the south line of Second Avenue from Monroe Street to Washington Street, and the south line of First Avenue from Washington Street to Bernard Street;

On the east by the east line of Washington Street from Second Avenue to First Avenue, and by the east line of Bernard Street from First Avenue to Spokane Falls Boulevard.

The retail zone shall also include both sides of Monroe Street from Main Avenue to Broadway, also both sides of Riverside Avenue, Sprague Avenue and First Avenue from Madison Street to Monroe Street, and both sides of Post Street from Spokane Falls Boulevard north to the Post Street bridge.

It's really difficult to make sense of that without looking at a map.

View Retail Zone - No Bikes On Sidewalks in a larger map

I don't know if posting signs throughout this area is possible--or worth doing. The city should scrap the prohibition of riding bikes on the sidewalk. The remainder of SMC 16.61.787 contains common sense rules concerning bikes yielding to pedestrians, exercising due care and caution, not riding too fast for conditions, etc. which should suffice for enforcement.

*** Update

I should add that I don't condone bikes on the sidewalk anywhere. But since they are allowed on sidewalks in almost all of Spokane, I doubt the need for prohibiting them in the retail zone since it's rarely enforced and extremely difficult to know where the prohibited areas are.


Not said...

I don't condone riding on the sidewalks either. However, if I remember right, the bike rack on the North side of the STA plaza is pretty far back from the road, so I was on my bike when a police officer commanded me to dismount.

I don't understand why a bike rack would be located in a place I can't ride.
- Ventura

Anonymous said...

I've seen signs painted on the sidewalk, spray paint w/stencil style, in Corvallis, OR. Those seem to do the trick and would be easy to apply/reapply.