Downtown business owners say people continue to ride bicycles and skateboards on sidewalks despite the La Grande City Council establishing fines for the violation. Some think more education is needed, not just for children but for adults as well. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
Despite setting fines for skateboarders and bicyclists riding on downtown sidewalks during business hours, business owners say the problem persists.
The La Grande City Council passed a resolution at its July meeting setting a fine range for violations of Ordinance 3077, which, among other things, prohibits skateboarding and bicycling on sidewalks in the central business district during business hours. The minimum fine was set at $50 with a maximum fine of $500.
But business owners say that isn’t enough to deter people from riding on the sidewalks.
“It hasn’t been impacted at all,” said Joe Beans owner Al MacLeod. “Not one iota.”
He said the problem with the fines is that nobody but the city council is aware of them.
MacLeod said he and his wife, Colleen, put their sandwich board out on the sidewalk, but sometimes that blocks the way for people with strollers.
“One day we wrote in chalk out there, ‘No bikes, no boards,’” he said.
The problem, MacLeod said, is lack of education.
“Most people think that’s where they’re supposed to be,” he said.
Another problem, said Sharon Porter of the Blue Turtle Gallery, is that it isn’t just children riding through.
“It’s adults as well,” she said. “I think there just needs to be more education.”
MacLeod said it may be a good idea for downtown business to team up and place sandwich board signs throughout the downtown area that tell riders they are not allowed on sidewalks, list the fines and direct them to ride in the alleys.
La Grande Police Chief Brian Harvey said he thinks the word is getting out about the issue.
“I know that our parking and code enforcement officer has warned several people along with several other officers,” he said.
Harvey also said there seems to be a decrease in activity with school in session.
City Manager Robert Strope said the Parking, Traffic Safety and Street Maintenance Advisory Commission has sent some further recommendations to his office on the matter. He has not yet had time to review them.
In the meantime, the MacLeods are concerned that a rider, especially a fully-grown adult, could seriously injure someone by running into or over them.
“It would certainly change someone’s life drastically,” Al MacLeod said.