The sign on Main Street couldn’t make it any clearer: no bicycles, no skateboards and no roller skates can be ridden on the sidewalks, but the problem is becoming epidemic.

SPPD: Bicycles, skateboards a growing
problem on Downtown sidewalks

August 05, 2015
Santa Paula News

School’s out and the sidewalks are filled by youngsters — and even adults — riding bicycles, skateboards and even on roller skates.

And they are all breaking the least in certain areas of the city including the historic Downtown where near misses have become the norm and an injury causing collision is becoming almost a given.

Some residents have complained that the sidewalk rollers are the worst seen both in numbers and attitude, an issue brought to the attention of Santa Paula Police Chief Steve McLean.

“It’s a tough one,” said McLean. “It’s summer and the teens are out of school doing what teens do, riding their bikes and skateboards,” often in places they shouldn’t.

“I would love to have foot patrol on Main Street,” but McLean noted the Santa Paula Police Department is under funded and short staffed without the personnel for an enforcement detail.

The city has an ordinance governing wheeled devices being ridden in the city and there are also state laws that mandate safety equipment, specifically helmets for riders under 18 years old.

Such laws are regularly ignored but McLean said that it has not been due to a lack of trying by SPPD personnel.

When it comes to issuing citations, “I’ve done it, our guys have done it but the reality is we don’t have enough officers down on Main Street to cite these kids...” 

Citizens Patrol and Police Cadets, which can enforce parking laws and issue tickets for same is not allowed to handle “moving violations...but,” noted McLean, “I would be willing to look into that.”

The time of the year always has an impact on the program: “The other side of the coin is we start citing those teens and then they start complaining to us and me that they need something to do,” recreational outlets not provided by the city.

The SPPD used to stage Bicycle Rodeos to teach younger children bicycle safety, a program that had the brakes applied to it due to staff shortages. 

In years past local schools emphasized bicycle safety, common sense rules that also applied to using any device with wheels mainly for the benefit of the rider.

Now it’s the public that is also at risk: on Main Street and in other areas of the city with sidewalks, “You open the door at the wrong place at the wrong time you can get run over, not just by bikes,” said McLean, “but by skateboards too!”

Several people have contacted the police department about the growing hazard and McLean said he would explore enforcement options.

McLean said, “Our Citizens Patrol and Cadets do parking tickets but riding a bike or a skateboard is a moving violation,” but he’s thinking, “It might be better to have some volunteers trained to patrol Main Street and issue citations...and it’s something I have to look into.

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