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Bikers cycling through Jones have noticed uptick in citations

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The police chief in Jones said recently he doesn't take issue with recreational bicycle riders who make the town their destination of choice, he just wishes they'd observe traffic laws and not use the sides of town businesses as open-air latrines.

HEATED EXCHANGE
NONE IN EDMOND

"We don't really have a problem with cyclists," said Jones Police Chief Thomas W. Pletcher. "But they need to be a little more " how can I say it " courteous.

"At the mini-mart, instead of walking in and using the bathroom, (bicycle riders) just go and urinate on the side of the building."

Pletcher said after issuing dozens of verbal warnings to cyclists for a variety of traffic infractions in recent months, over a weekend in August his officers finally issued five traffic tickets, after receiving complaints from local residents.

"In one case, a bicyclist came through, stopped in the road, held up his hand to stop (cross) traffic and let everybody else (on bicycles) go flying through a stop sign," he said. "The stop sign (incident) is a major deal, as far as holding up traffic.

"Most of the time, my officers haven't stopped anybody " they just pull up along side as they're riding, and say, 'Hey, guys " you've gotta watch the stop sign.'"

HEATED EXCHANGE
But those traffic tickets became the spark for a heated exchange among subscribers to a local e-mail list for bicyclists, and an unspecified protest was reportedly briefly considered, then dropped, by some subscribers to the list.

Pletcher, who said he joined the Jones police department in October 2007, said discourteous behavior by bicycle riders has been an ongoing problem that rankles many residents of the town of about 2,600, located 16 miles south-southeast of Edmond.

In recent incident, Pletcher said he was told residents came out of a nearby home and applauded when a Jones officer stopped a couple of cyclists for a traffic infraction.

Tim Tillman, an avid cyclist and chairman of the Edmond Bicycle Committee, said drivers and novice cyclists both need to be more thoroughly informed about the rules of the road. That means bicyclists must adhere to the same rules as vehicles.

"It boils down to a question of education," he said. "We have to educate motorists that (cyclists) have the right to the road, but we also have to educate cyclists that we have a responsibility as well.

"There are lots of novice cyclists out on the roads who aren't clear about whether to ride facing traffic like some folks were taught in grade school, or do you ride with traffic, like a vehicle? You'll find a very unhealthy mix of both out on the roads." 

NONE IN EDMOND
Glynda Chu, spokeswoman for the Edmond Police Department, wrote in an e-mail that a check of traffic court records showed that no citations have been issued for bicycle traffic infractions thus far in 2009.

In Norman, five citations were issued to cyclists in 2008 and 10 citations thus far in 2009, for infractions that include improper riding in the street (riding more than two abreast) and failing to stop at red lights and stop signs, according to an e-mail from Norman Police Department spokesman Capt. Leonard D. Judy.

Capt. Steve McCool, spokesman for the Oklahoma City Police Department, said his department issued 44 citations for bicycle infractions in 2008 and 23 citations thus far in 2009.

In issuing tickets to bicyclists, Pletcher said the intent of the Jones police was to both educate riders and increase their safety awareness.

"We're not trying to be mean to anybody," he said. "I think there are a lot more cyclists than in the past " a lot more new people who aren't aware that there are actual rules for bicyclists. Have you ever seen what happens when a bike is hit by a vehicle going 60 miles an hour? I don't want to have to clean somebody off the road because they're not paying attention.

"So I figure five tickets in three years is not a big deal."  "C.G. Niebank

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