A Slip of the Trip

From The Alachua County Today newspaper:

HIGH SPRINGS – After considerable controversy and debate, High Springs City Commissioners and bicycle enthusiasts seem to have compromised about the downtown area’s decorative bike racks.

Trip Hazard Removed

Crafted in the likeness of Santa Fe River wildlife, the racks serve as functional art, Tom Hewlett, a member of the Yellow-bellied Sliders Bicycle Society Hewlett said. Six racks were placed throughout the city after the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) received grant funds for the project. Local artist Ted Brock designed and created the racks from stainless steel in the shape of turtles, frogs and herons.

High Springs residents volunteered to install the racks around the community, taking about 25 residents two weeks to finish the project, just in time for Bike Florida in March 2011. The Bike Florida event draws more than 700 visitors into the High Springs area.

Vice-Mayor Bob Barnas recently said that in April he tripped over the bike rack in front of the Chamber of Commerce. Because of the accident, Barnas and some other commissioners believe the racks may pose a potential safety threat to High Springs residents.

Although the rack Barnas tripped over was not one of the six decorative racks created by Brock, Barnas initially called for all the bike racks to be removed from the downtown area.  At a May 24 commission meeting, Barnas said he was willing to compromise on the artistic racks. City attorney Raymond Ivey will draft a form for business owners with bicycle racks on their private property to sign, releasing the city from liability should anyone trip over a rack and intend to sue for injury.

The May 24 meeting did not include discussion of bike racks located on public city property, even though a yellow bike rack fashioned into the shape of a turtle located in front of City Hall was removed earlier and given back to the Community Development Corporation (CDC). Hewlett said a local business has already expressed interest in the rack being installed on its property.

“Bob has said now – and others – that they want to have the racks on city property removed, and that the racks, in general, are dangerous,” said Hewlett.  “There are a lot of dangerous things out on our sidewalks that people could sue us for, and if we have to worry about all of that, why have sidewalks down our streets in the city?”

On Main Street, next to the Great Outdoors Restaurant, a sign warns bicyclists that no bikes are allowed on the sidewalk. Yet, Barnas said there is a bicycle rack placed in the area. According to Hewlett, in the past, the sign was placed to ward off BMX-bicyclers. In the same ordinance that bans bikes from the sidewalks, the law also states that people are allowed to walk their bikes to the bike rack.

None of the racks were placed on the sidewalk, Hewlett said. Until now, he said he had never heard of a resident tripping over one of the racks.

Hewlett hopes to talk with the city engineer, John Morrison, about how the city could make the bike racks safe for the public. Morrison recently released a report stating the racks were a threat to pedestrians and suggested the racks be taken down.

Barnas and Commissioner Linda Gestrin said they want to public to realize that the city was not against bicycle racks.

Prior to the installation of Brock’s bike racks, the only racks in the city were located by the library and next to the sinkhole.

“We wanted to bring bike racks into town,” Hewlett said. “Instead of bringing the normal, relatively ugly racks, we wanted to bring something unique into the town – something unique to High Springs.”

8 replies
  1. Bill
    Bill says:

    The solution is simple. Have the city attorney, the one so concerned about a trip hazard, get release forms printed. Then have the city attorney stand on sidewalks around the city and get the release forms signed by all the pedestrians that walk by until all the pedestrians in the city have signed them. It may take a few months, but if there is so much concern about tripping, I’m sure the city attorney will find the time to take care of this very important matter.

    What a pile of crap. The problem is this happens day in and day out in towns and cities all over the country because we have such an excess of small minded people. Geeezzz.

  2. Kevin Love
    Kevin Love says:

    If High Springs is serious about removing serious dangers to the public, the first step is to ban all cars from the town.

    Tolerating the immense dangers posed by cars while whinging about comparatively trivial trip hazards is just plain car-centric hypocrisy of the most blatant kind.

    A far wiser man than I took on these kind of hypocrites by advising them to avoid trying to take the speck of sawdust our of their neighbour’s eye before first taking the great big plank of wood out of their own.

    I wonder how many people have been killed and injured by cars in High Springs? Compare that with the number killed and injured by bike parking stands. Yep, speck of sawdust vs. great big plank of wood.

    • Christina
      Christina says:

      Ah, but this isn’t about safety AT ALL. THIS is about covering your rear end. People don’t sue the CITY when they get hit by a car, people sue the city when they trip and fall on public property. You’ve got your priorities all mixed up on this one, safety isn’t the concern, it’s liability and MONEY.

      • NE2
        NE2 says:

        It probably has nothing to do with liability. That’s just a convenient excuse for not putting the racks in.

  3. Will
    Will says:

    I demand that all car parking be removed from city streets, as I’ve tripped over those small cars now in vogue.

    Furthermore, I demand that all fire hydrants be removed, and that all businesses requesting a fire hydrant to be installed on the private property have signed waivers from the city relieving the city of all liability from trips that can occur because of the placement of hydrants.

  4. Greg
    Greg says:

    I think the vice mayor needs to stop texting while walking.

    Tripping over street furniture? Really? Has he ever been outside of his town? Has he been to great public streets FULL of economic vitality WITH street furniture? I’ll bet he doesn’t walk a half mile (a 10 minute walk)in his own community but chooses a car instead. IMO, a lack of vision for his town.

  5. Phil Sarazen
    Phil Sarazen says:

    the City of Toronto has safety and functionality guidelines regarding artistic bike stands. Working with these guidelines for the last ten years I have the following suggestions:

    -bike stands should be 42″ or higher [railing height]
    -the widest point on either side should be above half way
    -no sharp edges
    -the bike stand made of loops with no protrusions longer than 3 inches

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