City ordinance repealed: Bicycles now allowed on playgrounds in Milwaukee

NOW: City ordinance repealed: Bicycles now allowed on playgrounds in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- It is now legal to ride bicycles on public school grounds and playgrounds in Milwaukee, after a decades-old city ordinance was rewritten today.

The effort was sponsored by Milwaukee Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic and the Wisconsin Bike Fed.

The sponsors, along with Milwaukee Public Schools, held a symbolic ceremony on Thursday, June 9, taking down a sign outside the Academy of Accelerated Learning that said bicycles were prohibited, and replacing it with a sign welcoming bike riders with safety tips.

City Ordinance 102-7 has been in the books for decades, prohibiting the use of bicycles on playgrounds and outdoor public school property.

"Sometimes we have some odd laws on the books that have been around for a long time and people are like 'well, that's the way it has always been," Alderwoman Dimitrijevic said.  "I think quite frankly people were probably ignoring it, but we want to do the right thing."

Ordinance 102-7 has now been repealed and revised, allowing bicycle use on playgrounds. Ald. Dimitrijevic says the revision is a small step toward decriminalizing recreation for children in the city.

"It's about reimagining public spaces so everyone feels welcome," she said.

The ordinance change is coupled with Wisconsin Bike Fed's effort to paint traffic gardens at Milwaukee playgrounds - blacktop areas with painted lines that resemble roads.

The traffic gardens are meant to provide a safe and non-discriminatory place for kids to ride.

"We know that in many of our neighborhoods there's this epidemic of reckless driving. That's where this equity piece is, because they cannot be safely driving in the road. So we have to raise up with scaffolding and tools, resources like this," said Bike Fed's youth program manager, Michael Anderson.

Anderson said this ordinance was one of many inequitable bicycle restrictions in the books that they're hoping to address.

Even with this repeal, city law still prohibits riding bikes on public sidewalks.

"Best practice says we should be riding on the road for transportation. That's not always practical on every street for people, so we would like to see riding on sidewalks revisited," Anderson said.

MPS has authorized funding for public traffic gardens throughout the city, encouraging young bike-riders to enjoy the new ordinance change. Bike Fed reps say to keep an eye out for new traffic gardens popping up this summer.

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