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Duluth Drops Traffic Charges Against Bike Riders Carting Food To Damiano Center

By December 16, 2009October 23rd, 2021No Comments

The Duluth News Tribune: Duluth drops traffic charges against bike riders carting food to Damiano Center

Christmas came early for three bike riders who were given tickets by Duluth police while delivering food to a soup kitchen.

By: Brandon Stahl, Duluth News Tribune

Christmas came early for three bike riders who were given tickets by Duluth police while delivering food to a soup kitchen.

Charges of impeding traffic against Sadie Sigford, Alex Strachota and Greg Schultz were dropped Tuesday on a recommendation by the Duluth city attorney.

The three were cited once in July and again in August during their weekly rides on Fourth Street picking up about 100 pounds of food that otherwise would be thrown away from Whole Foods Co-op and dropping it off at the Damiano Center. The three said they had done the ride once a week for about two years, regardless of weather conditions, before being ticketed.

The three already had been to court twice to plead not guilty before the charges were dropped.

“It’s a bummer to be doing something legal and be told otherwise,” said Schultz, who along with Sigford and Strachota arrived at the courthouse on Tuesday by bike.

The three said they felt vindicated after the charges were dropped.

“[The city attorney] said we were not in the wrong. Those were his words,” Sigford said.

“He said he would e-mail the [Duluth bike officer] and correct him on it,” Schultz added.

Well, not exactly. City of Duluth attorney Cary Schmies said he asked that the charges be dropped because he didn’t think the case warranted going to trial. But he also said police were not wrong to issue the tickets, saying the three cyclists need to move over when they’re blocking traffic.

“It’s a courtesy,” he said. “You’re sharing the road with cars.”

Schmies also said police were wrong to tell the three that they needed to weave in and out of parked cars to let traffic go by.

“It’s dangerous for bicyclists to zig in and out of traffic,” Schmies said.

Instead, he said that if the riders see traffic backing up behind them, they should find an open spot and let the cars go by.

“It’s about cooperation,” he said. “They have a right to be there, and so do the cars.”

The three will have ample opportunity to cooperate with drivers in the future, as they said they’ll continue their weekly bike rides to the Damiano Center.

As for how they’d celebrate the charges being dropped, Schultz said: “Probably a cold bike ride home.”