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On September 26th Lakewood Police ticketed Dominic “Vinnie” Latessa for riding a four wheeled bicycle (known as a Rhoades Car) in the street with his autistic son, stating that it is an “unsafe toy.” In a Plain Dealer article the Lakewood Police chief said that he “questioned how a Rhoades Car would fit into traffic without clogging a lane given its slow speed and size,” but the Rhoades Car bicycle is narrower than two cyclists riding abreast. Here is Bike Cleveland’s statement on the citation of the 4-wheeled bicyclist.
The Board of Directors of Bike Cleveland disagrees with the September 26th ticketing of Lakewood cyclist Dominic “Vinnie” Latessa and issued the following statement:
The Police Department of the city of Lakewood are pursuing a minor misdemeanor against Latessa for operating in the road a “toy vehicle,” a category previously reserved for children’s tricycles. Lakewood officials are unwilling to consider Latessa’s four-wheeled, self-propelled bicycle as a bicycle, following an unnecessarily rigid review of Ohio law defining a bicycle as having two or three wheels. The prosecution is contrary to the concept that streets are public spaces, “complete streets” available to all road users and taxpayers, rather than the exclusive control of automobiles.
Expending public resources to prosecute a father for spending an afternoon peacefully pedaling around the community with his 10-year-old, autistic son is shocking and contrary to any Lakewood effort to become a one of the most “bicycle friendly communities in the country.”
As our nation struggles with an obesity epidemic, and our community struggles with what the EPA deems as unhealthy levels of air pollution, we question any prosecution under any law that criminalizes healthy activities, like pedaling a four-wheel vehicle, skateboarding or rollerskating in the public streets. Historically our streets were public right-of-ways that were places of play, places of commerce, places where people socialized. Imposing laws that treat these public spaces as more or less the exclusive domain of automobiles is at odds with the growing environmental and public health movement for “complete streets.”
Bike Cleveland encourages the judge to dismiss the citation. We also mailed this letter to the Lakewood Chief of Police explaining why the ticket was misplaced.