Bikes on sidewalks discussed at council meeting 9.26

Written by David Green.

Morenci police chief Larry Weeks told an audience at Monday’s city council meeting that he’s heard about problems with bicyclists on downtown sidewalks ever since he arrived here five years ago.

Reaching a solution isn’t an easy thing for him and for many residents with whom he’s spoken.

“I’m not comfortable confronting an eight-year-old child and saying, ‘Get off the bike or I’ll ticket.’”

At the same time, he said, he hesitates to force young bicyclists into the downtown street traffic.

It’s not eight-year-olds that are the problem, an audience member answered during a question-and-answer session.

Laws should be enforced equally, Weeks said, noting that being struck by a bicycle can cause an injury no matter how old the rider.

Resident Doug Erskin said he’s witnessed teenage bike operators doing tricks on downtown sidewalks and damaging the decorative flowerpots.

He said he spoke to a police officer, but didn’t see any action taken.

Chief Weeks he said hasn’t made enforcement of the ordinance a priority, but his department can take a more proactive approach if that’s what council wants.

He said he believes he has some discretion in enforcing ordinances. Resources are people, he said, and he will have to shift priorities to increase sidewalk patrolling.

Due to budget cutbacks, Weeks said, his department has fewer officers than five years ago and can’t do what he believes to be proper drug surveillance.

“There’s a give and take to everything we do,” he said.

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