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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Columbia, Mo., passes bicycle harassment ordinance

Fresh off its designation as a Silver-level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, Columbia, Mo., has adopted an ordinance that makes harassment of bicyclists — including throwing objects, verbal assault and other offenses — a misdemeanor offense punishable by a $1,000 fine or one year of jail time.

On Monday, the Columbia City Council approved the new ordinance unanimously.

The Columbia Missourian reported that residents cited a number of reasons for their support and shared horror stories from bike riding. The tales ranged from waking up face down in ditches to having ashtrays dumped on their heads. The consensus among supporters was that the ordinance would help protect them on the streets.

“Unfortunately, there are people in our community who believe that roads are for automobiles and bicyclists who dare ride on the road should be honked at, yelled at or even have something thrown at them,” PedNet Education Coordinator Robert Johnson was quoted as saying in the newspaper.

Columbia's ordinance is modeled on similar ordinances in South Carolina and Colorado. Next month, the City Council will decide whether to expand the ordinance to include pedestrians.

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