Your advocacy matters: Columbia bicycle harassment law re-affirmed

Thanks to a flurry of emails and calls from area bicyclists and a good turnout at the Columbia City council meeting tonight, an effort to suspend the Columbia bicyclist harassment ordinance has been stopped.

Previous news update about the harassment ordinance.
Full text of the ordinance is at the end of this message.
I was able to attend the city council meeting today and was very pleased to see so many supporters of the ordinance out at the city council meeting.

The many emails, calls, and personal words of support at the city council meeting carried the day. MoBikeFed was pleased to be part of that effort, alerting our members in the area, as did PedNet and other local bicycling groups.

The result of the meeting is that the current bicycle harassment law is retained, with no amendments or changes for now. And there will be no suspension of the harassment ordinance.

Specifically:

1. The proposal to amend the harassment law to include pedestrians and wheelchair users was tabled pending the results of a task force to make some recommendations about a possible revision of the law. It might be somewhere between October & January before that task force completes its work and presents possible changes to the city council.

2. The proposal to suspend the bicycle harassment ordinance for six months was defeated by a vote of four to two. Council members Nauser, Sturtz, Skala and Mayor Hindman voted against suspension and Council members Wade and Thornhill were for suspension.

Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe, the sponsor of the harassment ordinance, was out of town due to a death in her family--though she certainly would have voted against suspension.

According to Councilwoman Laura Nauser, emails and calls were running 10 to 1 or better in favor of the bicyclist harassment ordinance.

A large number of people showed up to speak--often passionately--in favor of the harassment ordinance.

Despite all the fuss and bother in the press and online about opposition to the ordinance, not a single one of the people who were so passionately opposed to the ordinance, actually bothered to show up at City Council to speak against it in person--making many of us wonder if there is any
substance to the opposition at all.

Support from local bicyclists, advocacy groups like PedNet, and other organizations (like the Columbia Multisport Club, which organized the recent forum to facilitate discussion between motorists and bicyclists--a topic that came up several times in city council meeting) was absolutely key in retaining the support of the city council for the ordinance.
UPDATE & FULL TEXT OF ORDINANCE:

October 19th, 2009, the city council updated the harassment ordinance to include pedestrians and wheelchair users.
Here is the full text:

Section 16-145 Harassment of a bicyclist, pedestrian or person in a wheelchair.

    (a)    A person commits the offense of harassment of a bicyclist , pedestrian or person in a wheelchair  if the person:
    (1)    Knowingly throws an object at or in the direction of any person riding a bicycle , walking, running or operating a wheelchair for the purpose of frightening, disturbing or injuring that person ; or
    (2)    Threatens any person riding a bicycle , walking, running or operating a wheelchair  for the purpose of frightening or disturbing that person; or
    (3)    Sounds a horn, shouts or otherwise directs sound toward any person riding a bicycle , walking, running or operating a wheelchair  for the purpose of frightening or disturbing that person; or
    (4)    Knowingly places a person riding a bicycle , walking, running or operating a wheelchair   in apprehension of immediate physical injury; or
    (5)    Knowingly engages in conduct that creates a risk of death or serious physical injury to a   person riding a bicycle , walking, running or operating a wheelchair .
    (b)    Harassment of a bicyclist , pedestrian or person in a wheelchair  is a Class A misdemeanor.

(Ord. No. 20306, § 1, 6-15-09; Ord. No. 20450, § 1, 10-19-09)
(Ord. 20450, Amended, 10/19/2009, Prior Text; Ord. 20306, Amended, 06/15/2009)

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