New Bay bike ordinances focus on safer cycling
In 1990, the Federal Highway Administration described bicycling and walking as “the forgotten modes of transportation.” Between the years 1980 and 1990, the number of people in the U.S. utilizing these two forms of transportation for commuting dropped from a combined 6.7 percent to 4.4 percent. This was attributed to a lack of planning, policy, funding and engineering by the federal, state and local governments.
The same year, the U.S. Department of Transportation adopted a new national transportation policy that specifically sought to increase biking and walking in the U.S. The policy encouraged engineers to accommodate biking and walking within the planning and implementation phases of urban and suburban transportation projects. The policy also encouraged states and municipalities to increase the safety of bikers and walkers within the transportation system.
Over the next 10 years, massive federal studies were performed in order to find safer ways to increase these non-motorized forms of transportation. As a result of this 1990 national bike policy, an era of incorporating safer cycling into roads throughout the country began.
This new national policy encouraged states and municipalities to update their laws to reflect the view of bicycles as vehicles and to define safe and uniform rules for the use of bicycles on roads. In 2006, Ohio legislators responded by passing House Bill 389. The law defined bicycles as vehicles and provided a comprehensive set of safer, uniform, bike laws. This bill also prohibited municipalities within Ohio from having non-uniform ordinances and prohibited them from outlawing biking on any public roads, other than highways that contain overpasses.
It was at this point that Bay Village's existing bike ordinances came into conflict with Ohio law and national policy.
Therefore, in June 2013, the Village Bicycle Cooperative, Bike Cleveland, Bay Village Green Team, and Bay Skate and Bike Park Foundation first introduced, to Bay Village City Council's Environment and Safety Committee, a draft replacement of the entire chapter of ordinances governing bicycles in Bay Village.
Furthermore, a series of updated motor vehicle laws was presented to govern how motor vehicles operators should interact with bicycles on the road. The four sponsors' main goals were to increase the safety of cyclists and to restore uniform rules of the road, thereby helping make Bay Village a safer and more bicycle-friendly city. Almost the entire proposal was mirroring Ohio Revised Code wording.
Uniform rules of the road is the practice of having laws governing road users be consistent as one travels from city-to-city and state-to-state. The Ohio Revised Code, in ORC 4511.07(A)(8), specifically states that, “no such regulation shall be fundamentally inconsistent with the uniform rules of the road prescribed by this chapter...” when addressing municipalities’ ability to regulate bicycles. Prior to the passing of the updated Bay bike ordinances, Bay's ordinances were inconsistent with state uniform rules of the road. This was a source of confusion and potential danger for those traveling through the city on bike.
After nine months of council committee meetings, reviews by the law director and the chief of police, input from the sponsors, input from the public, and three full formal city council readings, the original proposal was passed on March 24 with only a few changes. A more bike-friendly, safety-focused and uniform set of bike laws now exists in Bay. Furthermore, the city's bike laws are now consistent with state law and the laws governing bicycles in most states across the U.S. (see summary of the bike laws).
Several of the non-uniform ordinances that have been removed from the books include the mandatory bike registration, the prohibitions of biking on certain streets within Bay, the requirement of riding within three feet of the curb, the requirement of a bell or horn, and the requirement to ride single-file on all streets (although single file is still required on Lake Road).
The mandatory bike registration has been replaced by an optional, free, bike registration, available at both the Village Bicycle Cooperative and at the Bay Village Police Station. The city's bike registration, which Bay residents are encouraged to use, helps the police department find the owners of recovered bicycles.
If you would like to learn more about safe riding practices, the new bike laws, or are interested in taking a day-long, on-road, traffic skills safety course, taught by a nationally certified bike instructor, please contact Village Bicycle Cooperative at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patrick McGannon has been a Bay Village resident for most of the past 33 years, is a board member of the Village Bicycle Cooperative, is an active member of the Bay Village Green Team, and is an avid road cyclist certified in traffic safety skills.