FW: [Stockton_Bicycle_Club] Limit on Bike Events Unconstitutional
- Published Wednesday, October 18, 2006, by the Menlo Park Almanac
>>it two charity bike
>> Woodside town attorney: Limits on bike events unconstitutional
>> By Andrea Gemmet
>> Woodside may have to scrap most of its rules that limit charity bike
>> and other events, now that the town attorney has declared the
>> legally indefensible and unconstitutional.
>> A town ordinance requires permits for events of 50 or more people on
>> roads, and limits such events to two per month, unless the Town Council
>> grants special permission. Although the regulation applies to any
>> event, it became a lightening rod in the ongoing tension between
>> and bicyclists after the council refused to perm
>> benefiting ALS and the South Peninsula Hebrew Day School -- that wanted
>> pass through town.
>> Gatherings such as demonstrations, marches and even bike rides are
>> under the Bill of Rights, which guarantees freedom of speech and of
>> assembly, said Town Attorney Jean Savaree.
>> "It's a public road, the public has the right to use the road, and
>> the public have the right to use the road without any permit requirement
>> being imposed on them, if they're not impeding traffic or the use of the
>> roads," Ms. Savaree told the council at its Oct. 10 meeting.
>> The town can only impose permit requirements if an event will "unduly
>> impede, obstruct, impair or interfere" with traffic or emergency vehicle
>> access, she sa
>>t dangerous road in Woodside, for two
>> She recommended that the council eliminate the two-per-month limit on
>> and drastically shorten the application timeframe. Under current rules,
>> permit applications must be made at least 120 days prior to an event and
>> Town Council has 45 days to review the application. That should be
>> to several days, or several weeks at most, Ms. Savaree said.
>> The Town Council and the Bicycle Committee requested the review of the
>> ordinance, which was adopted in 1988.
>> Old La Honda Road
>> The well-attended meeting was packed with members of the Old La Honda
>> Association who lobbied to preserve a 12-year-old ban on bicycle events
>> any other activities on their treacherous, winding road.
>> "Old La Honda Road is the mos
>> reasons:wn, they keep through-traffic off the road, and they keep
>> the poor configuration of the road and the extremely high volume of any
>> of traffic," said Mary Zvirblis. "You can only fit so many people on a
>> that's only 12 feet wide."
>> Five association members gave a PowerPoint presentation about the huge
>> amount of bicycle traffic, unpermitted bike club time trials, and the
>> that comes from sharing a road that has 33 blind curves and no bike
>> Several people called for more traffic enforcement by sheriff's
>> and complained about loud, aggressive, road-blocking bicyclists.
>> One contrary opinion came from Old La Honda Road resident Eric Risley.
>> "I think the greatest asset of the road is the bikers," he said. "They
>> the traffic do
>> motorcyclists off the road."that one group that was denied a permit for a
>> Ms. Savaree told the council that a blanket prohibition for Old La Honda
>> Road would be hard to defend in court, and recommended against it.
>> Flout the law?
>> Robert Susk, a former council member, said the town should do everything
>> can to discourage cyclists from riding through Woodside, such as closing
>> elementary school parking lot frequented by weekend riders.
>> "We're creating a tourist attraction by allowing more and more bike
>> activities," he said. "I don't believe now is the time to address a
>> weakening of our ordinance. There have been no challenges (to it)."
>> Susan Doherty, one of the members of the Woodside Bicycle Committee at
>> meeting, said she knew
>> charityt; $150,000 in annual legal fees, no money for infrastructure and the roads
>> bike ride prepared a complaint against the town and was ready to bring
>> a judge, but backed down because they didn't want their next event to be
>> Councilman Dave Tanner appeared unimpressed by the threat of lawsuits.
>> "What if we said, to heck with lawyers and laws, let's just make rules
>> stick with them?" he said. "Would we not have Woodside any longer? Would
>> be spanked?
>> Councilman Pete Sinclair told a cautionary tale about the state of the
>> when he was first elected to the council 11 years ago.
>> "There were seven lawsuits against the town. The attitude then was, the
>> be damned, we'll do what's right for the town," he said. "The result was
>> going to pot."nce remains unchanged.
>> Mr. Sinclair called for more enforcement of traffic laws and stiffer
>> penalties for scofflaws, a move supported by his colleagues. Councilman
>> Goeld said the bike riders drawing the most complaints are the so-called
>> pack rides, ad hoc groups that ride through town en masse. Pack riders
>> widely criticized for running stop signs, behaving aggressively and
>> to let vehicles pass them.
>> "At the permitted events, those are probably the best-behaved cyclists
>> there," Mr. Goeld said. "You cannot compare the rogue riders with the
>> permitted charity rides where people want to do things right."
>> No change yet
>> For the time being, the special events ordina
>> members directed town staff to gather more information, hire a traffic
>> engineer, and to return with a draft of a revised ordinance at a future
>> meeting. Town Manager Susan George estimated it would take at least a
>> of months before the issue comes back to the council.
>> "I'm not sure it's worth it to go back and cure the obvious flaws on an
>> interim basis," she said. "We won't have any more events until May, and
>> think that those are already approved. Nothing is pending."
>> "It seems our legal authority here is pretty limited," said Councilman