Location: FortScott

Fort Scott Repeals Mandatory Bicycle Registration Law

Good news! Fort Scott has amended their municipal code to remove mandatory bicycle registration.

Background

Awhile back, I had happened to stumble across Fort Scott’s Municipal Code, and found this:

10.40.020 – Registration required

No person shall operate or propel a bicycle upon any street in the city unless and until the bicycle has been registered with the chief of police, and has affixed to it an unexpired license. Bicycle licenses shall be procured from the chief of police. Ord. 2357 § 2, 1965

While a small number of Kansas communities require that bicycles be registered and/or licensed, Fort Scott’s law was somewhat unusual in that it required everyone, whether a resident or not, to register their bicycle upon entering the city. The law didn’t seem to envision people traveling by bicycle from outside the community, nor bringing their bikes when visiting the city.

I visited Fort Scott in July, and verified that the bicycle registration requirement was being enforced by the Fort Scott Police, and registered my bike, as required by law:

Afterward, I talked with the local Chamber of Commerce and visitor’s center, and suggested that they might want to consider updating their ordinances.

Read the full story here: Fort Scott’s Bicycle Registration Law

My argument was basically that it was unreasonable for visiting bicyclists to be expected to know about, and comply with, this obscure law, when few, if any, other communities they may pass through would have such a requirement. For a city that is on the route of the Race Across America, and that is a popular destination for touring cyclists, and that is trying to promote tourism via the excellent Gunn Park Trails and proposed Riverfront Trail, the mandatory bicycle registration law was counter-productive and, frankly, bicycle-unfriendly.

First Steps

Fort Scott Mayor Jim Adams left a comment on my original story:

Rest assured our antiquated code requiring bike registration will be repealed @ our next commission meeting on august 7th. Welcome all bike riders to Ft. Scott and Gunn Park.

True to his word, Mayor Adams raised the subject at the August 7th City Commission meeting. Per the minutes:

Adams – Remarked that he had read an article on bicycling in Fort Scott and that there were some negative comments about bikes having to be licensed in order to ride in the City. He also asked about riding on the sidewalks as some children need to ride on the sidewalks and not in the streets. He asked the City Manager and City Attorney to look into this ordinance.

(Note: The reference to sidewalks is in regard to another Fort Scott ordinance, 10.40.130 – Riding on sidewalks prohibited: “No person shall ride a bicycle on the sidewalks in the city.” Sidewalk riding is generally discouraged by bicycling educators, because it’s often many times more dangerous than riding on the street, as part of traffic. But most cities leave that decision up to the bicyclist, except perhaps for downtown districts, where the risk of pedestrian injury is greatest. The law should, perhaps, be flexible enough to allow small children to practice riding on the sidewalk in front of their house, for instance.)

Next Steps

At the next city commission meeting, on August 21st, the minutes read:

Lieutenant Shelton also informed the Commission that he had visited with the City Attorney regarding the current bicycle ordinance. It currently states that all bicycles must be registered and there is a $2.00 fee for this. The revised ordinance states that an individual may register with the City but it is no longer a law to do so. The $2.00 registration fee was also removed as it was not being charged. He asked for the Commission to consider approving the amendment of this ordinance.

Adams moved to approve the amending of the bicycle ordinance. Mason seconded. All voted aye.

APPROVED ORDINANCE 3419 AMENDING CHAPTER 10.40 – BICYCLES OF THE FORT SCOTT MUNICIPAL CODE.

Yay!

Final Steps

I’m not sure when the updated ordinance becomes law. In many cases, updates such as this must be published in the local newspaper before they take effect. In any case, the online version of the Fort Scott Municipal Code has not yet been updated.

But a thank-you is in order!

Well, done, Fort Scott! And thank you, Mayor Adams, for taking a personal interest in this, and following through. And thank you to the Fort Scott Police and City Attorney for supporting this change.

With the repeal of the mandatory bicycle registration law, Fort Scott joins such Kansas cities as Lawrence, Topeka, and Wichita, which have eliminated their bicycle registration and licensing requirements in recent years.

Next up: Augusta, Great Bend, and Iola.

Iola, especially, due to its position along the Prairie Spirit Trail, should consider eliminating its antiquated and unfriendly bicycle registration requirement.

And Fort Scott bicyclists, while bicycle registration is no longer required, it is perhaps still a good idea. Having your bicycle’s serial number recorded with the local police might aid in its recovery should it be stolen. The National Bike Registry is also available. If nothing else, please take a photo of your bicycle’s serial number (it’s usually located beneath the bottom bracket), and keep it someplace safe, just in case…

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About The Author

By Randy Rasa, editor/webmaster at Kansas Cyclist, the web’s premier Kansas cycling information site, featuring authoritative guides to Kansas cycling clubs, bike shops, organized bike rides, touring, trails, and much more. [learn more]

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