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"A BIT EXTREME": Punta Gorda could make locking bikes onto city property illegal

Punta Gorda's City Council will vote on the ordinance at a meeting on Wednesday.
Posted at 5:21 PM, Jun 04, 2024

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. — On Wednesday, Punta Gorda’s City Council will vote on an ordinance that would ban locking bicycles and ebikes to city infrastructure.

The council approved the initial ordinance at a meeting on May 15 in a 3-2 vote with council members Bill Dryburgh and Deb Lux voting against it.

According to the ordinance, if approved it would ban locking bikes to any “tree or other vegetation, sign, light post, railing, parts of buildings, or other fixtures in any City right-of-way, public sidewalks, on City property, and in City Parks, other than to a bike rack.”

“There’s a lot of cyclists in this town. We enjoy cycling to the restaurants and the different festivities,” Andrew Mellberg told Fox 4’s Alex Orenczuk as he was cycling on the city’s Harborwalk. “I don't understand why they don’t want us locking our bikes up.”

Bike locked to pole
A bicycle chained to a utility pole in Gilchrist Park.

Penalties for violating the ordinance include fines, and the bike could be impounded by the police 24 hours after the owner receives a written warning.

“I think that’s a bit extreme,” said Mark Crowley, who had rode his bike to Gilchrist Park.

Penalties for violating the proposed bike lock ordinance.

The ordinance also includes electric bicycles. Phil Pfaeffli, ebike expert and owner of Pedelec Electric Bicycles, said having to find a proper bike rack for a bike or ebike could make riders decide to take their car instead.

“I want to go downtown, and I want to take my ebike, but where do I lock it up?,” said Pfaeffli. “Am I allowed to lock it against that pole. What should I do? And then they make the decision to take the car instead of the more practical ebike for that distance because people don’t want their ebike stolen.”

Pfaeffli said if the ordinance is passed, more bike racks should be distributed throughout the city.

“If you restrict on one side, you should offer people a solution not just restrictions all the time.”

Bike locked to bike rack
A bicycle chained to a bike rack at Gilchrist Park.

Council will vote on the ordinance at Wednesday’s meeting at 9 a.m.