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"You're a jerk": Then and now

This is how we tell people they’re being jerks today (Fort Collins Coloradoan, September 11, 2008):

Fort Collins police and bike advocates are telling cyclists “don’t be that guy,” and stay off sidewalks in the Old Town area. Old Town is posted as a “dismount zone,” which means anyone caught riding a bike on the sidewalk is subject to a $50 fine. [Article and press release continue with several more “look, we’re asking nicely” paragraphs]

Here’s how we used to do it (Front page, Fort Collins Courier, July 20, 1899):

It takes a lot of gall to ride your wheels on the sidewalks, but then some folks enjoy making themselves disagreeable. If the streets are impassable, why just hoof it like the common herd? [That’s the whole article–reprinted in its entirety.]

6 comments to "You're a jerk": Then and now

  • nisperos

    Well… it was one of our earliest ordinances, as in Ordinance #5 passed in 1888:

    Relating to the use of riding machines.
    Be it ordained by the city council of the city of Fort Collins:
    Sec.1. That it shall be unlawful for any person or persons to use or ride any bicycle, tricycle, velocipede or other riding machine or apparatus upon or along any of the public sidewalks or street crossings within the city of Fort Collins.
    Sec.2. Any person or persons violating any of the provisions of this ordinance shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be fined in a sum not less than $5 or more than $100.00.
    Passed and adopted the 25th day of June, A.D.,1888.
    Attest: C.B. Rosenow, City Clerk J.C. Evans, Mayor

    I think today’s paved streets are more passable than yesterday’s mud streets, the fines were steeper in 1888 given wages of the time, the ordinance, strictly speaking, applied to ALL sidewalks, and gosh, they even made it a misdemeanor! So, perhaps we’ve advanced some…

    But if the newspaper had to make it a front page issue 10 years later, enforcement must have been pretty unpopular then too and, I bet if there were any merchants peddling wares on a bike propelled cart, the brick and mortar merchants would have been very protective of their turf…

    And, what were paperboys or message boys supposed to do? Did you also notice they included the legal phrase “unlawful… to use or ride”. Did that mean a big NO, even if you dismounted?

    Is that what is meant when you call someone a “stick in the mud”? LOL

  • catfc

    I love you, Nisperos. Great stuff. I wonder if they also neglected to enforce the ordinance in 1888?

  • nisperos

    Of couse, some time later, in another administration, our city thought to give a little consideration in the other direction:

    Ordinance #10 (1896):

    Relating to the Placing of Obstructions on the Streets and Alleys.
    Be it ordained by the city council of the city of Fort Collins:
    Section 1. It shall be unlawful for any person or persons to place of cause to be placed in or upon any street or alley or other public place within the city of Fort Collins, any ashes, glass, crockery, scrap iron, bottles, nails, tacks, or any other article or articles which might injure the tires of bicycles or other vehicles.
    Sec. 2. Any persons or person who shall violate any of the provisions of this ordinance shall upon conviction thereof be fined in any sum not less than two dollars nor more than one hundred dollars, for each offense, and in default of payment thereof, shall be imprisoned in the city jail or county jail not less than five days nor more than ninety days.
    Passed and adopted this 19th day of June, 1896.
    Attest: Robt. S. Fedder, City Clerk F. R. Baker, Mayor

  • catfc

    Leave tacks on the sidewalk and go straight to the calaboose!

  • captainbevo

    A funny story regarding the “varmits” riding bikes on city sidewalks, involves a certain retired city Judge and a college student by the name of Robert Pings.

    I don’t recall the exact date but I believe it to be around 1964 or 1965. Fort Collins first hippie was a pseudo college hanger arounder (colorado term) by the name of Robert Pings. This guy had long stringy greasy hair down to the middle of his back and was the poster boy for patchouli oil . Well, the local campus police and the city police didn’t really care for the “cut” of this young bohemian and would stop to “chat with him as often as possible”. On a fine spring day Mr. Pings was cited for riding his bike on a sidewalk and issued a summons to appear in court.

    On the prescribed day Mr. Pings appeared before the now retired judge. As per the judges recollection – I looked at this young man dressed in filthy clothes, dirty hair and my sense of smell told me that he had not had the opportunity to shower for some time. You see back in those day’s when you appeared in court it was customary to bathe and at least wear some semi clean clothes. The judge’s statement to Mr. Pings was something like this-Mr. Pings I am going to reset the date of your hearing and at that time I expect to see you with pink ribbons in your hair or cleaned up. (by the way this was printed in the Coloradoan)

    When Mr. Pings returned he was cleaned up and had even washed his hair. If memory serves me correctly the citation was dismissed.

    The moral of the story is if you are going to ride your bike on the sidewalk don’t be a jerk.

  • catfc

    We’ve heard this story before http://lostfortcollins.com/2009/05/08/csu-stray-balls-and-foul-hippies/. But you give more details.
    Someday I’ll introduce you to John Tobin Jr.