Independence City Council unanimously approves anti-harrassment ordinance

Tonight the Independence City Council will vote on a new anti-harassment ordinance meant to protect bicyclists, pedestrians, and wheelchair users from harassment by other roadway users. If it passes, Independence will become the third Missouri city with an anti-harassment ordinance, joining Columbia and the KC suburb of Greenwood. 

Road Rage
Road Rage

The Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Federation is leading a short group ride to the City Council meeting.  Check out KCBike.Info for all the details on the ride and the ordinance.

UPDATE:

Monday Independence became the third Missouri city, and the largest, to pass an anti-harassment ordinance.  According to the Blue Springs Examiner:

Independence City Council members Monday night unanimously approved an amendment to the City Code that prohibits the harassment of bicyclists, pedestrians and wheelchair operators. The ordinance concludes At-Large Council Member Jim Schultz’s efforts that he said included the research of similar efforts in other Missouri cities and conversations with state Rep. Tom McDonald, D-Independence, this summer.

“I understand there are some issues of some folks throwing coins, throwing QuikTrip drinks and bottles not only at pedestrians, but at people in wheelchairs and bicyclists,” Schultz said. “I thought if we have something in place that we can better address it and give our law enforcement another tool to help protect these people – I think it would be to the advantage of our city.”

The city council unanimously approved the ordinance, with several on the city council telling of their experiences, or experiences of friends and family members, with harassment while bicycling or walking.

Columbia and Greenwood have also passed anti-harassment ordinances in the past 18 months; the ordinances in all three cities use similar language.

More details at KCBike.Info.

The text of the new Independence anti-harassment ordinance (source):

SEC. 12.01.017. HARASSMENT OF A BICYCLIST, PEDESTRIAN OR WHEELCHAIR OPERATOR.

No person shall, for the purpose of frightening, disturbing, or injuring any person riding a bicycle, walking, running, or operating a wheelchair:

1. Throw an object at or in such person’s direction; or

2. Threaten such person; or

3. Shout or otherwise direct loud or unusual sounds toward such person; or

4. Knowingly place such person in apprehension of immediate physical danger; or

5. Knowingly engage in conduct that creates a risk of death or serious physical injury to such person.

The penalty is set in Chapter 12 Article 8 of the Independence Municipal Code:

SEC. 12.08.001. PENALTIES

A. Any person found guilty of a violation of this chapter of the City Code shall be subject to a fine of up to Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) and to incarceration for a term not to exceed six months.

For comparison, here is the Columbia law:

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.

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