Northeast Joco

Prairie Village police crack down on bicyclists who break traffic laws

Bicycle-riding clubs enjoy Prairie Village for its peaceful streets, but the town is now also known as a place where the police mean business.

Twenty-six members of the Brookside Weekly Ride club were ticketed Thursday evening for allegedly zipping through a stop sign at 69th Street and Oxford Road.

Having received complaints, two police squad cars and a motorcycle officer were waiting for them.

“They not only have the same rights as vehicles on the road but also the same responsibilities, including obeying red lights and stop signs,” said Prairie Village Police Sgt. James Carney.

Carney said the department for years has tried to emphasize safety with the several bicycle clubs that have weekly rides through the city — and to convey complaints from motorists and others.

Results have been mixed. Carney said officers in recent spot checks have observed the Prairie Village Yacht Club obeying traffic rules. He said two members of the Brookside club were cited last week by a traffic officer, and one of them promised to spread the word among other members.

Then on Thursday, “lo and behold, all 26 of them went right through the stop sign,” Carney said.

Riders who were ticketed could not be reached, but other bicyclists acknowledged the importance of obeying traffic rules.

“My initial reaction is that we definitely, as cyclists, should follow the laws,” said Mitchell Williams of the Kansas City Metro Bicycle Club. “I’m sort of disappointed that so may people got ticketed, but from what I understand, the police were probably justified.”

Eric Rogers, executive director of Bike Walk KC, said his group works to educate cyclists and motorists about sharing the road safely and is organizing classes for ride leaders this fall.

Word about the Prairie Village ticket incident spread within the cycling community.

“I have heard there were some cyclists who were not happy about getting tickets,” Rogers said. “I don’t think anybody likes being ticketed.”

Carney said Prairie Village Police Chief Wes Jordan wants his officers to be proactive on safety in the wake of two fatal accidents involving cyclists in recent years.

In 2005, a 55-year-old man was killed when he ran a red light on his bike at Somerset Drive and Belinder Road and was struck by a car.

More recently, a juvenile rode through a stop sign at 63rd and Delmar streets and was struck by a vehicle. The boy later died, Carney said.

The fine for failing to stop at a stop sign is $100 for bicyclists and motorists. Those ticketed can either mail it in or contest the citation in court.