Our View: That's not how we roll

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Steamboat Springs embraces toys that roll, from skateboards to bicycles and some more exotic wheeled conveyances. We have a skateboard park and a paved trail that runs for more than 6 miles along the Yampa River. And skateboards, ski skates and inline skates are allowed on streets outside the busiest part of downtown.

Steamboat Today editorial board — January to April 2014

  • Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher
  • Lisa Schlichtman, editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Karl Gills, community representative
  • Will Melton, community representative

Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

Accordingly, we think Steamboat residents should be willing to abide by a sidewalk ban on wheeled vehicles in the historic commercial district.

And we must admit, we should have applied the brakes April 30 when we ran on the front page of this newspaper an engaging photo portraying a man kicking a skateboard up the sidewalk on Lincoln Avenue. This clearly was a feature photograph and not a news photograph, but it has a newsy angle — a reader appropriately called us out because riding a skateboard and other wheeled vehicles on the sidewalks lining Steamboat’s main street is against a city ordinance renewed in 2006.

We erred in running the photograph in a prominent spot without pointing that out.

The area where skateboards, bicycles and other forms of wheeled transportation may not be ridden on sidewalks is bounded by Oak Street on the north, Yampa Street on the south, Third Street on the east and 13th Street on the west. 

The list of wheeled modes of transportation that can’t be ridden on sidewalks in that district includes roller skates, in-line skates, kamikaze boards (motorized skateboards), go-peds (electric or gas-powered scooters), stand-up scooters or ski skates (roller skis). Toy vehicles also are ruled out. However, people are welcome to walk their bikes or pick up their skateboards and continue along the sidewalk to reach their destination.

And people can ride skateboards, roller skates, in-line skates and ski skates on city roads. Because of state law, only bicycles are allowed on Lincoln Avenue, U.S. Highway 40 and Elk River Road.

From a distance, we admire the use of longboards, often power-assisted by a faithful dog, as a means of sustainable transportation. But the reality is that practice can get you fined. 

The penalty for the first violation of the ordinance is $25, $50 for the second and $75 for third and subsequent offenses.

While we’re editorializing in this vein, we want to encourage everyone to practice good etiquette while using the Yampa River Core Trail.

Multi-use trails have given rise to conflict in other cities, but our community has a strong record of sharing the Core Trail. Cyclists can make it easier by slowing and either ringing a bell or calling out a friendly greeting while passing family groups walking the trail. 

And hikers, who naturally want to walk two abreast, can help cyclists by staying attuned to traffic around them and avoiding sudden changes of direction. In a similar vein, people walking pets on the required leashes can help cyclists by limiting the use of the long, retractable leashes that often span the entire width of the trail.

Be safe and respect Yampa River Core Trail closures at flooded underpasses this spring runoff season and enjoy our historic downtown while respecting city ordinances.

Comments

Cresean Sterne 3 months, 2 weeks ago

In 25 yrs I have not known anyone here who has had a ticket for any of that except for a dog off leash. Those signs downtown have been there since I can remember and people have rode, skated and peddled right past them for ever. Not that its ok but it has been an un-inforced rule that no one realy complained about.

I would suggest the city have someone walk the beat if they want to stop any sidewalk cruising. Maybe they do but I never see them. There use to be the peddle police in yellow coats cruising the core trail. I never saw them walking down town unless there was some sort of event.

Instead of a $25 fine for a first offense, maybe a verbal warning is more appropriate for such a peddy crime

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Michael Bird 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Stand by the entrance to the Post Office and a fortune in $25 tickets could be issued daily as almost all ignore the signage and barely miss stricking pedestrians. Enforcement is non-existent and bicycle riders will not provide the basic courtesy of staying off of pedestrian only sidewalks. They flat out do not care about others or they wouldn't do it. Want to see change ? How about mandatory enforcement with $100 fines and no warnings permitted ?

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Pat West 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Station an unmarked car any given day on Old Fish Creek Falls road, and the officer could empty the ink from his pen writing speeding tickets. That sign showing the speed of traffic shows me that 95% or drivers are over the speed limit coming into downtown, and the 25mph limit on westbound US-40 past 13th street is completely ignored. Plus, the bus stop servicing Dream Island on the north side of US-40 past 13th street has no crosswalk, and drops riders off on the wrong side of the road, without any way to safely cross the highway, just where drivers are speeding up from 35 to 40mph. The speed limit is still 25mph at the bus stop, but really no one is maintaining the limit after 13th. Do we need someone hit and injured to figure out that a bus stop without a crosswalk is a poor design and dangerous?

Ps, it may be illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk, but state law allows cyclists to ride across roads in crosswalks.

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Jim Kelley 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Michael,

Stand by the third street entrance to the post office and count the pedestrian jay walkers weaving across traffic. If it weren't for the kind folks here in Steamboat who are patient and accommodating, there would be carnage. I'm sure that fining jay walkers x 100.00 dollars with no warning would indeed most stop jay walking too! It seems you have it out for those fit folks on two wheels who, by the way, are not clogging the intersection while you are sitting in your car! ("One person per car people!, get off MY road bikers!") Cars, walkers, bikers and skaters all are complicit in violating traffic rules all over town! To single out one group as "the problem" is narrow minded and reflects more on your intolerance than contributing to a safe solution!

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Cresean Sterne 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Thats one spot that could use a Breckenridge style crosswalk in the center. Now with both post offices combined it should be something to cosider.

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John Fielding 3 months, 2 weeks ago

One size fits all, anyone?

I have seen plenty of considerate bike and board riders on the sidewalks downtown, only a few rude ones. I have seen quite a few cyclists in the roadway on Lincoln jeopardizing themselves and the passing motorists. One outstanding example was a badly out of shape person going very slowly upgrade in the middle of the right lane, causing quite a delay for all others.

What should be illegal is specific behaviors that cause harm or distress, impede traffic or endanger others, not a blanket ban. If we must continue to pass simplistic laws, children must be specifically excepted, required to use the sidewalks, not the streets. (Of course the reckless or discourteous adolescent should still be ticketed).

I noticed the "No Crossing Between Lights" signs disappeared. And my young teen boys report being seen often by policemen while riding slowly along the sidewalks of Old Town. Maybe there is hope for reason to prevail.

.

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Michael Bird 3 months, 2 weeks ago

John, Riding bicycles on a sidewalk does endanger pedestrians and does cause harm whenever there is an accident caused by a rider and that is why laws against it are in effect in most cities. I have had to jump away too many times at the Post Office sidewalks and exiting onto Lincoln Ave sidewalks for it simply to be an inconvenience. It is a lack of courtesy and a safety problem. Children can and should walk and never ride their bikes on a sidewalk. As children, we did.

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John Fielding 3 months, 2 weeks ago

I maintain it is not the activity per se but the irresponsible manner of a small minority of individuals that is problematic. Those who can and do ride carefully and respectfully on the sidewalks should not be prohibited from doing so. If the prohibition stands, (as does the no crossing policy), then the selective non enforcement becomes the reasonable alternative.

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Michael Bird 3 months, 2 weeks ago

How can one ride carefully on a sidewalk when its width was never meant to convey pedestrians walking side by side in two directions plus bike riders ? One cannot stop a bike immediately when one exits from a store entrance especially if pedestrians are also near the entrance. Your small minority appears to be a very large group as there are many bike riders violating the law that states clearly "No riding on sidewalks". If bike riding on sidewalks could be done safely, why do you think almost every city has banned it ? Answer=because of past experiences plus the desire of the citizenery who don't want or need to watch for heavy bikes that could injure them. I am not against bicyles but like most methods of transportation there is a desinnated place for threm i.e. bike trails and streets. Sidewalks are only for pedestrians..

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Bret Marx 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Anybody else notice the guy riding his bike, ON THE SIDEWALK, behind Justin and his dog? I love it! No skateboarding or biking on the sidewalk and this picture makes the front page of the news paper!!! Hahaha.

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mark hartless 3 months, 2 weeks ago

In "bike-town USA" is there anywhere somebody ISN'T riding their bike...? A graveyard, maybe...?

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mark hartless 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Oh , I know... A handicap ramp...???

Bet you can wait around 6 minutes and find a biker using that too...

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mark hartless 3 months, 2 weeks ago

OK you got me; I have yet to see a biker riding in the river...

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Jim Kelley 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Actually, If you ride your bike off the side of River Road going north and into the rapids you are going to be "Bayaking". I have seen it and it is pure comedy!

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John Fielding 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Michael, in response to your concern, If you do not know how it can be done safely it may not be possible to enlighten you, but I will try. The cyclist keeps to the edge of the walk away from buildings. The cyclist keeps the speed low enough to react to the sudden appearance of a pedestrian. On a narrow walk, approaching from behind pedestrians, the cyclist calls out or rings a bell, and waits for the pedestrian to allow passing. The small minority I referred to are not those who violate the ban, but those who do so recklessly. You ask why I think so many cities have banned it. I believe it is because it is so much easier to institute a ban than a reasonable standard for behavior. A wise law would ban reckless behavior.

An interesting comparison is the use of the Segway motorized two wheeled vehicle. I recently took a tour of historic downtown Richmond with a group riding these amazing devises. The sidewalks there are very narrow (as are the streets) but there was never an issue of endangering the pedestrians, although if handled recklessly the damage or injury could be severe. Such vehicles are not permitted in traffic, only on sidewalks and crossings.

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rhys jones 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Whether it's legal or not, some smug kids and "locals" are going to poach the sidewalks on their skateboards and bikes, never within sight of law enforcement who have bigger fish to fry anyway, always above the law. I have been known to obstruct such riders, forcing them to stop and dismount, unless I am surrendering too many pounds going in. Ain't my job, I'm no cop, that just pisses me off.

That's why I largely stick to the alleys as my sidewalk -- they're much wider, and there's generally nobody else there, save the occasional delivery truck which must be negotiated. This is where I suggest the wheeled crowd travel. An added advantage, besides being MUCH less crowded, is that there are no stop lights at the cross streets; just go when it's clear, which is usually.

I just do enough of Lincoln sidewalks as necessary to get to the bus stop, or from. Those sidewalks are DANGEROUS. It's not just bikes -- better watch where you're going, lest some statue or antlers or tree branch poke you in the eye... those sidewalks are so narrow, and over-utilized, until they make Lincoln a pedestrain mall, let the kids have it!!

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