By Paris Achen
MEDFORD — A Medford ordinance meant to help in the recovery of stolen bicycles but that fined cyclists $195 if they didn’t have a license was repealed Thursday at the police department’s request.
Officers were reluctant to impose the fine on cyclists, many of whom didn’t know about the long-standing ordinance or the penalty, said Medford police Chief Randy Schoen.
“It was rarely enforced,” he said.
The Medford City Council repealed the ordinance at its noon meeting Thursday.
In the past 15 years, only one or two citations were issued a year, Schoen said.
“There are so many people commuting on bicycles who don’t live in Medford,” he said. “We just think this is an unnecessary ordinance and is really unenforceable. It really doesn’t work in the best interest of our community.”
Medford Municipal Court recently began issuing “fix-it” tickets that waived the fine provided the bicyclist licensed his or her bike.
“I know the law made a lot of people mad,” said Jayme Enriquez, a clerk at Al’s Cycle and Hobby on Central Avenue downtown. “We always tried to make it clear to customers that they should register their bike with the police department.”
Enriquez said three weeks ago, a customer came into the shop complaining that he had been ticketed for failing to license his bicycle.
“That was actually the first person I heard that had been ticketed,” he said.
Residents still may license their bikes for free at the police department headquarters in City Hall, 411 W. Eighth St. in Medford. The license comes in the form of a sticker that can be attached to the bike.
The department hopes to soon offer the same service online, he said.
“We still encourage people to have bicycle licenses because it allows us to record their serial numbers and bike descriptions so if the bike is lost or stolen and if we find it, we can return it to its owner,” Schoen said.
In 2009, there were about 210 bikes of unknown ownership that were languishing in the police department’s property control storage units, said Medford police Lt. Greg Lemhouse.
“We lose so many bikes and recover so many,” Schoen said. “Without a serial number, it’s really hard to return to the owner.”
The revision was the result of a department review of ordinances that impact police operations, he said.
“We want to encourage bicycle licenses, but we don’t want to write people tickets if they don’t have one,” he said.
Medford resident Steve Maehr, who owns two bicycles, praised the city for doing away with the law.
“The fine was outrageous,” Maehr said. “One hundred and ninety-five dollars is a lot of money. I didn’t know it was that steep.”