Downtown ban on bike riding on sidewalks

The City Council will consider an ordinance Tuesday that would ban riding a bike on a sidewalk along the highlighted streets. Walking a bike would still be allowed, as would riding on other city sidewalks.

With downtown Venice getting new sidewalks, the City Council is looking at new rules regarding their use.

One proposed ordinance on Tuesday’s agenda would make it illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk along West Tampa, West Venice and West Miami avenues from Harbor Drive to Business 41 and along Nokomis Avenue and Nassau Street from West Tampa Avenue to West Miami Avenue.

It would still be legal to walk a bike on any of the sidewalks, and to ride them on any others.

State law provides that bicyclists generally have the same rights as pedestrians regarding sidewalks but it also gives local governments the authority to impose stricter rules. This one would enhance pedestrian safety, City Manager Ed Lavallee wrote in a Nov. 6 memo to the Council.

The proposed ordinance doesn’t say what the penalty for riding on a prohibited sidewalk would be or refer to a penalty provision in another part of the city code. Chapter 70, where this ordinance would go, allows the issuance of a summons and the imposition of a fine, but for parking violations.

Another proposed ordinance would put additional limits on business use of sidewalks and other city property and rights of way.

Currently, a permit is required so that a restaurant, for example, can put tables and chairs outside. The proposed ordinance would add outdoor entertainment as another category requiring a permit.

It would also require the permit to “define and illustrate all objects to be placed in the permitted area to include size, dimension and location of such items.”

The permit holder would have to maintain “a clear unobstructed pedestrian pathway of 48 inches wide, or a width to meet the current Americans with Disabilities Act pedestrian pathway standard, whichever is greater,” and an “unobstructed clearing of a minimum of 24 inches from the face of curb,” to provide a buffer zone from parking.

General maintenance of the permitted area would be the responsibility of the permit holder and, in the case of a business that serves food or beverages would include power- washing at least three times a year.

The ordinance would give the Council the authority to create a fee schedule by ordinance so that changing the fees could be accomplished just by adopting a new resolution.

Enforcement of the permit provisions could be through the code enforcement process, which includes fines and other penalties, or court proceedings. The proposed ordinance does away with the authority of the city manager to revoke a permit.

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