Cyclists, pedestrians gain protection with passage of anti-harassment ordinance

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February 07 2021 05:30 pm
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Pedestrians, cyclists, and wheelchair operators who are sick and tired of harassment on the streets of Kansas City can rejoice.

The Kansas City, Mo. Council unanimously passed an amended anti-harassment ordinance for their protection on the streets.

"I've always said I wish I had a rocket pack on the back of my bike to catch up to them and let them know what I thought about it, but now it's great you just get their license and turn them in and if they harass you they'll get in trouble, it's awesome!" said one runner and cyclist, Adam Orr.

Although we can't get Orr a rocket pack, the city passed an ordinance Tuesday to protect people like him from harassment.

"Swerving their car at them, or coming right beside them and blaring their horn, or throwing something at them, or if it's someone who's visually impaired throwing something at their service animal...I mean there's been some really bad stuff happen," said Councilman John Sharp, the sponsor of the ordinance that prohibits anyone from intimidating or injuring pedestrians, bicyclists, and wheelchair operators.

"What we want to do is stop that behavior, to get people to realize that cyclists have the same rights to use the streets as motorists...in fact, state law requires them to use the streets, not to be on the sidewalks," Sharp added.

BikeWalkKc works to get people to pursue more active forms of transportation, and conducted a survey about street harassment in Kansas City.

"If people don't feel safe on the streets when they're walking to work or walking their kids to school, they're going to pursue driving a car instead," said Rachel Krause, with BikeWalkKC.

According to BikeWalkKC statistics, the hot spots for harassment are in downtown and midtown. Eighty two percent of people walking have been harassed, and 75 percent that were biking have been harassed.

"There's this whole mentality of roads are for cars, but roads are actually for people, they're for everyone," said Krause.

"Usually its on my bike and people will come up really close to you and won't get out of your lane even though there's plenty of room to get over," Orr said.

Councilman Sharp says he hopes this is the start of stopping that type of harassment.

"If we have to write tickets to enforce it, the police department is ready to do that!" said Sharp.

Councilman Sharp says besides reporting a licence number to police, there could be surveillance in areas where harassment happens frequently. You can face jail time and a fine if you are convicted.

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