Practice sidewalk decorum

Published 6:21 pm Thursday, September 15, 2016

Attention bicyclists, moped operators and skateboarders: sidewalks, especially those in downtown Washington, are for pedestrians.

In recent days, a moped operator was cruising down the east-side sidewalk on Market Street between Third Street and Main Street. The moped, with no visible registration tag, nearly hit a woman coming out of a business. A bicyclist, riding down the west-side sidewalk in the same area came close to hitting a child coming out of another business.

Under the City Code, bicycles, skateboards and mopeds are not allowed on sidewalks (except in residential areas) — for obvious reasons. They pose danger to people walking on the sidewalks and people exiting offices, restaurants and other businesses. Bicyclists and moped operators are required to follow the same traffic laws that drivers of compact cars and 18-wheelers must follow.

Perhaps some warnings or tickets issued to offending moped operators, skateboarders and bicyclists would result in sidewalks being free of menacing traffic that should not be on sidewalks. In Washington, violators face a $25 fine for each offense. Their skateboards, roller skates and coasters may be confiscated at the time of the offense.

No doubt some of these offenders are ignorant of the City Code’s prohibition of bicyclists, moped operators and skateboarders on sidewalks. Plead that ignorance after running into an elderly woman leaving an office and stepping onto a sidewalk and see how much sympathy one would receive for that ignorance.

Skateboarders should use the skateboard park next to the Bobby Andrews Recreation Center on East Seventh Street or other appropriate places. Moped operators and bicyclists must stay off sidewalks. If they cannot do that, perhaps they should become pedestrians.

There’s noting wrong with skateboarding or riding bikes, if done sensibly. Simply put, bicyclists, moped operators and skateboarders should show courtesy and consideration for pedestrians by staying off sidewalks. It’s just the right thing to do.