Several citizens appeared before Paden City Council Monday evening to express concerns they have with an ordinance which prohibits children from riding their bicycles on city sidewalks.
Zoe Little was the first to speak and she expressed her concern for what she believed was a law about to be passed prohibiting kids from riding on sidewalks. Mayor John Hopkins, spoke up saying, "We're not passing anything on bikes tonight". Little said, I know not tonight, but it is a concern of mine for further down the road, that you guys are going to be discussing it.
Mayor Hopkins then said, "This has come off Facebook. There is nothing going on." He said they have had discussions, but nothing formal.
Little responded with, "Well can I speak on it." Hopkins agreed.
"Just in case this goes any further," said Little, "For the record, I want it known that I live on East Jackson Street and we have no sidewalks, so we have already lived the no sidewalk law pretty much. My kids have almost been hit several times. They have also been told to get out of the street by people driving. She said putting the kids in the streets is dangerous and with people speeding up and down the streets, it's just a matter of time before a child gets hit.
She said it was her understanding that council was looking pretty hard at passing this. Councilman Joel Davis then spoke up and said, "What your talking about is already an ordinance." Little asked, "That kids can't ride on the sidewalk?" Davis answered in the affirmative, as did Mayor Hopkins.
Jessica Quinn, a resident of South Third Ave., then read the ordinance which prohibits any person from driving or riding along any sidewalk or footwalk, she said the ordinance was passed in 1984. She said she didn't even know the code existed until she made a complaint about people blocking the sidewalk to prevent kids from riding. Quinn said Officer Cody Elliott threatened to start enforcing the code by giving the parents a warning, followed by a fine and two hours community service.
She said they weren't wanting to get rid of the code, they just want to see if it can be changed to take a look at the age of children. "This ordinance includes any child," Quinn said.
Hopkins asked council if there had been any discussion on this, Councilmen Jim Richmond and John Staggers both responded this was the first they had heard about it.
"You need to talk with your council person," Mayor Hopkins said.
"Yes, there is an ordinance and it's been there for years, I'm not going to defend the ordinance one way or another, but at the same time if you let a little kid ride on there and you have old people walking on the sidewalk and the kids run somebody down, it can be just as bad as an adult running down a little kid. So there is a lot that's involved."
Belinda Billiter, who lives on Sixth Avenue said she wanted to touch on the sidewalk issue real quick. "You expect the kids to stay off the sidewalks no matter what their age?" she asked. "It's not safe, people are speeding up and down the streets all the time. My niece at four o'clock today opened up a car door and someone flying down the street hit the car door, she's at the emergency room. What if that would have been a four-year-old on a bicycle that got hit?"
She said they are going to get hurt or run over. Billiter said she believes the ordinance needs to be looked at and changed to allow children to ride, but to give the right of way to people walking. She stressed that the streets are crowded and she believes a child is going to get hurt.
Mayor Hopkins thanked them for their input and asked if there were any more concerns.
Nancy Springer of Adams Street, said she would like to get back to the sidewalk ordinance. She asked how he wanted the residents to present this to their council person.
"Do we ask council to change the ordinance?" she asked.
Hopkins said they would have to research it and see what's best. "I don't want to say one way or another right now," remarked Hopkins.
He said there have been two incidents where problems have arisen with kids on bicycles already. Springer said she understood, but she was just concerned about the kids getting run over on some of these streets.
Hopkins said, "Sometimes you're better off letting that dog lay." Springer replied, "And sometimes you're not."
Kevin Golden said he currently lives in Paden City and he is also aware there are fines being handed out to people for allowing their children to ride on the sidewalks. He asked if this issue is tabled, will those fines be dismissed? He said there is a petition with well over 100 names on it against the ordinance, so it is not just a Facebook thing.
He said there are state laws in place which supersede the city laws.
Hopkins said the city recently spent $10,000 to bring there codes up to date, so they should be pretty well in line with state law.
Golden said, "Then why aren't the sidewalks up to code and safe?
"Do you want to open up that can of worms?" replied Hopkins. He said the residents are responsible for their sidewalks, not the city.
"I would suggest you enforce all the codes," said Golden.
Mayor Hopkins said he didn't see anything in the police report where anyone has been fined. He said he would have to address these issues with the police department.
Finally, Brenda Postlethwait of Second Avenue asked Mayor Hopkins about a young child riding a motorized scooter with her parents following behind her. Hopkins said it is not legal.
There were no more complaints or concerns from the citizens raised during the public forum portion of the meeting.