Barrington Hills and Bicycles

I was somewhat perplexed after reading about Barrington Hills’ bicycle ordinances over at Chainlink.

“The first is the mandate of single file bicycle riding.  This ordinance states that persons riding bicycles upon a Village maintained roadway are prohibited from riding side by side and shall only ride single file. The second ordinance is negligent operation of bicycles which states that it shall be unlawful for any person to operate a bicycle upon any public roadway (Village/County/State) in a manner which is negligent or creates a risk of bodily injury or damage to or loss of property. These new ordinances aim to ensure that both bicyclists and motor vehicles can share the roadway in a safe and responsible manner.  The Barrington Hills Police Department will be enforcing these ordinances especially during the spring and summer months as the weather gets warmer” 


 And discussion during their November ‘08 board meeting.


“Bicycle Regulations – Trustee Gohl began discussion on the feasibility of revising the vehicle code to include specific bicycle regulations. Village Attorney Doug Wambach will confirm whether new regulations would be enforceable only on municipal roads or also on county or state roads. A few years ago, investigation began on the possibility of requiring bikers to come into the Police Station to pay a fee, sign a waiver and review rules and regulations. No action was taken. Discussion also involved the possibility of including a time of day limit for bicycle riding within the Village. The plan is to hold a public session jointly governed by Public Safety and Roads and Bridges with involvement from the Legal Committee, when the draft regulation is ready.”


Joe Lewis, Vice-President, McHenry County Bicycle Advocates raises an excellent question, “Why doesn’t the Barrington Hills Police Department enforce the Illinois motor vehicle law which gives them adequate ability to ticket cyclists who run stop signs and fail to go single file when obstructing traffic?”  Ordinances targeting a specific group of individuals smacks of discrimination which reflects badly on the community itself.


This comment caught my attention.


“My friends Jean and Andy report that on Saturday they were stopped (while biking thru Bgtn. Hills Hills) by the Barrington Hills Police. The police setup a safety check roadblock and stopped all bicyclists. This was in the vicinity of Oak Know and the country club. It was a thorough check; even required a valid ID. Andy said his helmet ID (issued by AHBA several years ago) was sufficient. The police explained that they will be keeping a close watch on all cyclist in Barrington Hills.”


Interdicting bicyclists under the guise of a safety check? I wonder if this is the onset of a wider trend as municipalities search for new revenue streams. However it maybe construed as harassment. Elected officials saw an easy way to score political points by targeting a group which they perceive wields little influence in their community. Positive advocacy with politicians and law enforcement is the way to prevent this from becoming the standard. Hopefully Barrington Hills is an isolated example.