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When Butch Farrell visited La Grange in January, he brought his family — and his bike.
But he might not return to Oldham County if a county bicycle ordinance is passed.
The ordinance, still a draft in the public safety committee, would require permits for all commercial bicycle events or non-commercial rides with more than 50 participants. Event organizers must pay for police traffic control and advertise the event.
Committee members met Tuesday and received comments from several area cyclists.
Judge-Executive David Voegele asked the committee to write an ordinance that would prevent traffic congestion and increase public safety.
On several occasions, police have been unaware of cycling events that created potentially dangerous situations at busy intersections.
“We’re trying to give our police department the upfront knowledge that there is going to be an organized event,” said Deputy Judge-Executive John Black.
Magistrate Bob Leslie, chair of the public safety committee, said the county isn’t trying to be anti-bicycle.
“We have to address everybody’s concerns,” he said.
When Ferrell came to La Grange, he drove from New Richmond, Ohio, about 90 minutes away, for one of the eight urban short-track bicycle races hosted by Goose Creek Cycle during the winter months.
“My family put about $200 into the local economy,” Farrell said. “Food, gas and a couple items from local shops.”
The races attracted a number of cyclists from surrounding counties.
According to Linda Goin, executive director of Discover Downtown La Grange, many participants bought coffee during the race and stayed for lunch.
Farrell is surprised the county isn’t welcoming cyclists into the community, especially during colder months when tourism is typically down.
“It would appear that the county fathers aren’t interested in having money in their county’s economy that we all brought in the dead of winter,” he said.
Jon Kindig, owner of Goose Creek Cycle, said the ordinance will make it more difficult for him to organize the races.
Kindig said based on the draft ordinance, he estimates he’ll have to pay about $400 in permit application fees and the cost of paying for police officers for traffic control.
“It is a safe bet that entry fees would have to double at a minimum,” he said.
Entry fees were $10 per race this year and each race attracted 25-30 riders.
Public safety committee members also want to enforce the county’s sign ordinance, which would prohibit Kindig and other event organizers from affixing directional signage to county road signs and utility poles without approval.
Lynnie Meyer, chief development officer for Norton Healthcare, agrees that the signage restrictions could curtail events.
Norton Healthcare organizes a large fundraising ride, the Bike to Beat Cancer, which attracts several hundred riders.
“Getting a few hundred recreational bike riders through the area obviously requires directional signage,” she said. “If we are not able to have that signage, we would need to alter our entire route.”
Event organizers say they understand the need for safety, especially for larger events, but don’t believe committee members are treating cyclists fairly.
Kindig said it is true that cyclists are an inconvenience to drivers — but other drivers are an inconvenience to each other, too.
La Grange Mayor Bill Lammlein agrees with Kindig.
“We don’t question farm tractors or joggers or roller skaters,” he said.
Lammlein disagrees with the proposed ordinance and doesn’t anticipate it will impact events inside city limits.
“I’m going to run my city the way I want to run it,” he said. “I invite cyclists to my city.”
The proposed ordinance is still being revised by members of the public safety commission, which includes magistrates Leslie, Bob Dye and JD Sparks.