Our view: Right approach on scooters

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By state law, it's already illegal for kids to zip around city streets on motorized scooters.

It will still be illegal even if Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta's proposed ordinance to ban such "toy vehicles" fails for lack of support. City police officers will continue to issue warnings and citations to violators, he said.

But the chief wanted to make adults aware that their children are breaking the law when they traverse the city streets on gas-powered scooters, which are gaining in popularity.

So he introduced an ordinance Tuesday -- more as an awareness campaign than as a law enforcement tactic. Some city councilors questioned the need for an ordinance restricting the scooters when they're already prohibited by state law.

The chief said he would be "kind of surprised" if the ordinance passes, but thought it would be better to have the issue before the public for two readings rather than just start clamping down with no warning.

So parents be warned. No amount of crusading or showing up en masse at a city council meeting will change things. Children are risking a ticket if they're out on city streets on a

motorized scooter. They'll still be legal on the sidewalk, but as Craig residents know, sidewalks are a few and far between.

One could argue that the scooters are no more dangerous than bicycles, and the chief would agree. He would like to see parents provide more guidance to their children on how to bike safely and follow the rules of the road. One child on a bike was struck recently on Yampa Avenue by a motorist who couldn't avoid the collision. Luckily, the child wasn't seriously injured.

Part of the problem is that cyclists, even adults, don't seem to understand the law, the chief said.

For example, there's an impression that bicycles aren't allowed on sidewalks, but that's not true. They're allowed on sidewalks unless otherwise posted, but they must yield to pedestrians. And cyclists generally bend the rules on the road. For example, most don't stop at stop signs unless there happens to be traffic present, Vanatta said.

The police department conducts safety classes for elementary school students in the spring because officers know kids will be riding their bikes all summer.

Some people will say that the police department should have more pressing concerns than kids on scooters. But we think the chief made the right call. He's given the public notice that a dangerous situation won't be tolerated. Better to take proactive steps now than to clamp down after a child is seriously injured.

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