June 19, 2014 in Features

The Slice: Passing the buck might purge sidewalk cyclists

By The Spokesman-Review
The Spokesman-Review photo

Paul Turner, Spokesman-Review columnist.
(Full-size photo)

“I reckon it’s money what talks the loudest.” — Nate Tomkins (played by Erville Alderson) in 1941’s “Sergeant York”

I am, as of this date, officially suspending my campaign to discourage illegal bike-riding on downtown sidewalks.

Well, at least its current approach.

Informing those riding on sidewalks of the ordinance prohibiting same in the downtown core has not proven to be an effective tactic. It turns out people do not welcome my impromptu reports that they are violating the law.

This should not have come as a surprise. At the risk of inching toward broad-brush profiling, I estimate that 90 percent of those riding bikes on downtown Spokane sidewalks are drug-addled dropouts with juvenile criminal records longer than their neck tattoos.

As a group, they have not turned out to be open to dialogue about what morons they are.

But I’m not giving up entirely. One morning before Labor Day, I will take to the streets of downtown with an envelope containing 20 crisp $1 bills. Then, when it is safe and sane to do so, I will present a buck to cyclists I see who are riding on the street — legally, in other words.

Sidewalk riders will receive zero dollars.

Only cyclists wearing helmets will be eligible for the modest cash award.

One could argue that this will be a pointless stunt. But that’s one of my specialties.

Besides, I like the idea of shifting my focus to those who are doing right by society.

The thing is, it’s not really a laughing matter. People have been hurt by sidewalk bike riders in Spokane. One woman clobbered upon emerging from the Review Tower years ago sustained devastating injuries.

Downtown sidewalk riders give all Spokane cyclists a bad name. But let’s face it. The police have a zillion other things to do. And even if they did routinely ticket sidewalk scofflaws, the chance that these last-known-address scholars would pay a fine is approximately 0.00.

Stay tuned.

Today’s Slice question: Would you rather your child be extremely good-looking or extremely smart?

Write The Slice at P. O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email pault@spokesman.com. Stephen Austin would want his ice cream truck to play Bob Dylan’s “Shelter from the Storm.”

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