City Council 8/5/19

West Lafayette City Council meetings are currently held in the council chambers at the temporary city hall located at Old Happy Hollow Elementary School. 

A freshly amended bicycle ordinance was passed during Monday's city council meeting with carefully detailed suggestions that leaves many decisions up to the rider.

The amendments to current bicycle ordinance No. 13-19 include a courtesy to those attending Purdue football or basketball games at Ross-Ade Stadium and Mackey Arena. The change allows a person to stop, stand or park a vehicle in a bicycle lane or other area designated for bicycle use within eight blocks of the stadium or arena during game days or other major events.

The ordinance also lays out detailed rules for bikers on roads without a bike lane. It now states that a biker should ride “far enough to the right as judged safe by the bicyclist to facilitate the movement of ... overtaking vehicles,” the ordinance says.

A bicycle rider may now use another lane other than the right lane only if a rider needs to overtake another vehicle, to turn left, to avoid conditions or obstructions, when there is a dedicated right turn lane or to ride in a designated lane. On one-way streets with multiple lanes, a biker may switch to the left-hand lane but must ride on the far left side.

While most audience members at the meeting supported the spirit of the law, education arose as a common theme during public comments.

"How are we going to educate the public … about ordinances,” asked physics and astronomy professor Andrew Hirsch. “Because it’s one thing to have it on the books, but people don’t know and it’s my contention … that the general public is not aware of what the Indiana law says regarding cyclists. So how are we going to educate the public?”

No answers were given at the time, but city councilor David Sanders did interject at the end to inform the public of a new education component he and Hirsch are creating in collaboration with Purdue police. Sanders did not mention specific details but noted that the idea “could be applicable, it could be easily used by West Lafayette for education purposes as well."

Citizen and independent mayoral candidate Zachary Baiel was more supportive of the spirit of the amendments but was suspicious of the reasons for passing them.

“I suspect that we’re only adopting these measures so we can get a good rating from the League of America Bicyclists,” Baiel said during the public comments.

The amended ordinance was passed with a unanimous vote.

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