Police step up enforcement against cycling violations
A Fairfield man attended the city council meeting Monday to voice his frustrations over a bicycle ticket he received for riding on the wrong side of the road.
Dan Tudor, a student at Maharishi University of Management, was issued a ticket on Dec. 8 for riding on the wrong side of the road. Fairfield Police Chief Julie Harvey said Tudor also was pulled over for riding his bike on the sidewalk in the downtown and for failure to maintain a taillight, although he was not cited for those things.
In an incident Jan. 11, Tudor supplied a false name to a police officer after he was pulled over for riding his bike at night without a taillight.
Tudor told the council he felt the ticket and his arrest constituted harassment. Harvey said in an interview Thursday that Tudor was stopped while riding his bike because a caller was worried about Tudor’s safety since he was riding without a taillight.
Harvey said the police department and sheriff’s office have a policy of obtaining the name and birth date of everybody they talk to. She said Tudor would have probably been issued a warning had he not supplied a false name. The responding officer had to call campus security at M.U.M. in order to obtain Tudor’s identity.
Tudor said the city was trying to become more sustainable, which meant being welcoming to bicyclists. He said giving out “worthless tickets” was discouraging biking. He said nearby cities such as Ottumwa would not even “waste time on a bicycle ticket of such nature because they have real crimes to deal with.”
Harvey said the police have received numerous complaints in the past three years about bicyclists riding on the sidewalk in the downtown. In response, the police have stepped up their enforcement of bicycle-related violations in that part of town.
Harvey said she rides a bike herself, and so can sympathize with the plight of other cyclists. On the other hand, she said cyclists have to follow the rules just like everybody else.
“A bicyclist has to follow the same rules of the road as a vehicle operator,” she said.
After Tudor had a chance to address the council, Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy told Tudor cyclists can ride on sidewalks, just not in the downtown. He said anyone who shares the road with vehicles also shares the rules.