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Richmond council OKs rules on bicycle impoundments

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http://mobi.timesdispatch.com/richmond/pm_120066/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=9M7WkbSR

Richmond council OKs rules on bicycle impoundments

On the same night the Richmond City Council declared May as “2013 Richmond Bicycling” month, it passed new restrictions Monday related to attaching bicycles, motorcycles and mopeds to trees, signs and posts on city property and authorizing police to impound them.

“This, in effect, doesn’t really change anything other than remove some of the ambiguity in the current code,” said Jakob Helmboldt, the city’s bicycle, pedestrian and trails coordinator.

After hesitating amid vocal opposition from some Richmond cyclists, the council ultimately passed the law changes, which were pushed by first-term Councilman Parker C. Agelasto, 5th District, to address what he characterized as “dead” bicycles and mopeds.

Agelasto resisted suggestions by some council members that he delay adopting the new rules, which will allow police to immediately impound bicycles, mopeds and motorcycles attached to a tree on city-owned property.

It also allows police officers to impound bicycles and mopeds that are “inoperable due to missing or broken components necessary for operation” and are attached to a post, sign or other city property for more than 72 hours. Mopeds and bicycles that are in operating condition but are left attached to a sign or post on city property for more than 10 days can also be impounded.

Owners have 30 days to reclaim impounded bicycles and mopeds. After the 30 day-period, the city may donate the bicycles or sell them after posting advertisements.

Some bicyclists criticized the proposed regulations as unnecessary and a distraction from the city’s larger problems.

“Richmond still has a culture of bike hatred,” said Aaron Linas, 28, who lives in Jackson Ward and uses a bicycle as his primary mode of transportation. “We’re criminalizing bicycles here.”

Linas said trash bags and rolls of carpet have sat in a vacant lot near his home for years despite multiple calls to the city.

“We look upon bicycles as a nuisance or an eyesore,” Linas said.

Agelasto said the new ordinances were the result of extensive work and will give the police the clarity to remove bicycles and mopeds that have been stripped of parts but remain secured to city property.

“I think we do celebrate the bicycle in the city of Richmond” said Agelasto, who rode a bicycle to the council meeting and, alongside Mayor Dwight C. Jones, made the bicycling month proclamation to representatives of several Richmond cycling groups.

The council also approved real estate tax exemptions for six properties owned by the city nonprofit groups, including the Capital Area Partnership Uplifting People, the Endowment Fund of the Memorial Child Guidance Clinic, Family Lifeline, Virginia Museum Real Estate Foundation and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Foundation.

They will be the last approved under the “exemption by designation” process, which the council voted in January to end amid discomfort with making what several council members said were “political” decisions about which groups merited the designations.

rzullo

(804) 649-6911

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Written by vaphc

April 23, 2013 at 8:43 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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