Over the next two weeks, the installation of 70 new signs will be completed in the City of Warren.
Those signs inform bicyclists and skateboarders that they may not ride on the downtown sidewalks.
City council passed an ordinance in July that restricts the use of bicycles and skateboards in the downtown business district. Bicycles may not be ridden on sidewalks and skateboards may not be ridden at all.
“Since the passage of the ordinance, we have issued warnings,” City of Warren Police Chief Ray Zydonik said Wednesday.
Assistant City Manager Mary Ann Nau took 600 copies of the city’s pamphlet outlining the law to Beaty-Warren Middle School for distribution to students. Information is also available on the city’s Web site — www.cityofwarrenpa.gov.
As the signs go up back-to-back in 35 locations, enforcement will begin in those areas.
“We’ve tried to advertise this thing,” Zydonik said. “This is the final phase of our educational process to the public before we start issuing citations.”
There is an escalating scale of fines and vehicle impoundments for violating the ordinance. The first offense results in a $25 fine and five-day impoundment of the bike or board; second offense is $50 and 15 days; third offense is $100 and 30 days; and the fourth offense is $300 and one year.
There are exceptions. For example, a child learning to ride may ride on the sidewalk with a parent.
The ordinance only includes the business district — Hickory (including the bridge), Liberty and Market streets south from Fourth Avenue, Second and Third avenues from Hickory to Market, Breeze Point Landing, Clark Street, and Pennsylvania Avenue from Poplar Street to South Street.
Skateboarding is permitted on sidewalks outside of the designated area, but not on any streets in the city.
Bicycles are to be ridden on the streets and are subject to the Pennsylvania vehicle code. However, the ordinance does not expressly prohibit bicycling on sidewalks outside of the business district.
Some residents have complained about the ordinance, saying bicyclists, including children on their way to school, will be forced to ride on the streets of Warren.
“They can push (their bikes) through there,” Nau said. “I’m not telling the parents they have to ride in the street. There is an alternative.”
Whether bicyclists are in the streets or pushing, Zydonik asks drivers to pay attention.
“We would ask the motoring public to be mindful of activities such as bikes and skateboards,” he said. “With school starting be mindful of additional foot traffic... and expect delays.”
Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry
Off the sidewalk
Shawn Tutmaher of the City of Warren Department of Public Works puts up a sign along Market Street near Third Avenue warning bicyclists and skateboarders not to ride their vehicles on the sidewalk. Over the next two weeks, the signs will be going up in 35 locations throughout the city’s business district and police will cite violators, with penalties including fines and impoundment of vehicles.