|Roger W. Fields, Interim Chief of Police
Cape Girardeau City Council
Amending the City Code relating to operation of scooters.
Since 2010, there have been a total of 32 scooter accidents in Cape Girardeau; the majority of these accidents have occurred on Sprigg Street and in relative proximity to Southeast Missouri State University. To date, there have been a total of eight accidents in 2012.
The Cape Girardeau Police Department recognizes the fact that helmet laws will reduce the severity of injuries in these types of accidents, however, the implementation of helmet laws will not have a direct impact on the number of scooter accidents that occur.
Additional restrictions such as limiting multiple riders, limiting only to streets with limits of 30 mph and the manner of operation of motorized bicycles as it relates to riding with the operator’s legs on both sides of the cycle and not riding on the handlebars are considered favorable.
Due to the recent tragic scooter accident of a Southeast Missouri State University student athlete, University officials have had discussions with City Staff relating to requiring helmets for individuals operating a scooter. The attached map shows the majority of all scooter accidents occurring on Sprigg Street and in relative proximity to the campus of Southeast Missouri State University.
At the October 1 City Council Study Session, representatives from the University requested that the City Council consider an Ordinance requiring the use of helmets for scooter operators and addressing several other issues of concern. Following the meeting, City Attorney Eric Cunningham worked with Al Spradling, Attorney and Chair of the Board of Regents for Southeast, to draft an Ordinance addressing their issues. The attached Proposed Ordinance is the result of those discussions and satisfies all of those concerns. However, there are some additional issues that need to be mentioned:
First, the University talked in terms of requiring protective eyeware by the operators of motorized bicycles. State law does not require protective eyeware by operators of motorcycles, and does not contain standards for them. For that reason, the new proposed subsection 26-346(b) containing that additional requirement for operators of motorized bicycles was removed from the University's proposed ordinance. Although a good safety practice, the "Protective Eyewear", above and beyond what is required of a motorcycle operator seems burdensome to an operator of a much less powerful and slower moped.
Second, this proposal needs to include additional requirements for the manner of operation of motorized bicycles. Those requirements are set out in subsections 26-392(d) and (e), and they relate to riding with the operator’s legs on both sides of the cycle and not riding on the handlebars.
Third, the proposal also includes a restriction on multiple riders and limits operation of motorized bicycles to streets having a speed limit of 30 miles per hour or less.
Police Staff recommends the Council approve the first reading of this ordinance requiring scooter operators to wear a helmet, and restricting the number of riders, how it is ridden, and streets where they may not ride scooters. If the Council wishes to adopt this Ordinance as an emergency measure, it may do so. After the motion and second have been made to approve the first reading, someone will need to make a motion to amend the ordinance to have it approved as an emergency measure pursuant to Section 3.15(a) of the City Charter, as a bill concerning “the immediate preservation of public peace, property, health, safety or morals.” If that motion is seconded and approved by a majority vote, then the ordinance will be given a second and third reading at that time. If the amended ordinance receives five affirmative votes, it will take effect immediately.