Last month, Detroit City Council unanimously repealed three city ordinances that Detroit Greenways Coalition, with support from Detroit Food & Fitness Coalition, had sought to remove.
The ordinances restricted youth bicycling within the city, prohibiting bicyclists under age 12 from riding in the street even if they were with a parent or guardian. Bicyclists between ages 12 and 17 needed to carry a permission note with them. The penalty for violating either ordinance was that the Detroit Police Department could ask parents to withhold bicycling privileges for up to six months.
Obviously, this goes against one of the DFFC’s main goals: to make sure everyone in Detroit, especially the most vulnerable children, has opportunities to be physically active. Repealing the ordinances helps us to promote cycling among young people – not penalize them for riding.
Representatives from Detroit Greenways Coalition testified at the October 27th public hearing that these ordinances were archaic, unique to Detroit, not best practices, and rarely enforced, which made youth safety education more challenging.
Also at the public hearing was Heather Nugen, executive director for Back Alley Bikes. Nugen brought her wealth of experience in youth cycling to the table. Council member Scott Benson recognized Back Alley Bikes for all the great work it does in the city.
Next up were two third-graders who road their bikes to school and know how to safely ride in the road. They clearly had the most impact. Thanks to BikeVON for bringing these kids to the hearing.
At the conclusion of the public hearing, Detroit City Council member Raquel Castaneda-Lopez and Benson posed with the children. Member Castaneda-Lopez wrote on Facebook:
“I love when youth come to speak at City Council – it can be intimidating even for adults. Today these two 9 and 10 yr olds, respectively, came to support repealing archaic restrictions around youth riding bicycles. They ride their bikes to school. I hope that someday soon everyone in the city feels safe & comfortable riding bikes and using this as a viable means of transportation.”
We share that hope too!
Also, thanks go out to People for Bikes in helping spread the word on this with an action alert.