Barbara Calkins, James Reagan, 12, and Brandon Reagan, 14, walk on Oakdale Avenue Thursday. The family thinks the ordinance to keep cyclists and boarders off the sidewalks downtown is a nuisance that often creates more safety risks by forcing cyclists into the street. - Jamie Lusch

Downtown sidewalks off-limits to cyclists

MEDFORD — Scott Starns of Medford was riding his bike along a sidewalk near the intersection of East Main Street and South Central Avenue Wednesday when he was stopped by police and handed a $100 citation.

Starns, who rides his bike to work, is one of about three dozen residents who have been cited for disobeying a municipal ordinance prohibiting the use of scooters, skateboards and bicycles on sidewalks. The ordinance applies to the area of downtown Medford bordered by Bear Creek, East 6th and 10th streets and South Oakdale Avenue.

Medford Police are increasing enforcement of the ordinance after receiving an influx of reports about incidents involving bicyclists on city sidewalks, Lt. Tim Doney said.

"We've had more complaints in the last couple of weeks," Doney said. "We're not trying to crimp anyone's style, we just want everyone to be safe."

To Starns, the ordinance is unfair, but he has no choice but to comply because he can't afford another citation.

"I've been riding for years, and just now I get a ticket," Starns said. He said he was riding in the road and was almost struck by a vehicle, so he moved onto the sidewalk because he thought it would be safer.

"I got a ticket for saving my life," he said.

But for pedestrians, cyclists and boarders on sidewalks can pose a threat.

Judy Nelson, who owns Cadillac Cafe on West 8th Street, said she has been hit at least twice by cyclists when leaving her restaurant.

"It's a close call at least twice a month," said Nelson. "I don't think they should be on the sidewalks, period."

Nelson said cyclists are safer in the street where they are easily visible. Leaving work every day, Nelson said she can't see around the storefront and cyclists can be hidden, which results in a collision or a close call.

Doney said people don't necessarily have to move into the street, saying the safest option might be to walk bikes and scooters and carry skateboards when in the downtown area.

Brandon Reagan, 14, of Medford, walked through downtown Thursday carrying his skateboard. He is an avid boarder who often takes advantage of unique architectural features downtown that make for good rides, but the ordinance has put a damper on his hobby.

"I've never hurt anyone except myself," Reagan said.

The ordinance does not apply to the rest of the city, where bikes, skateboards and scooters can be ridden on sidewalks. Doney said increased enforcement of the ordinance began Aug. 15 and will continue indefinitely.

Reach intern Stacey Barchenger at 776-4464 or e-mail her at

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