Skagway is a popular biking town in the summer. It’s compact, the downtown core isn’t hilly, and it’s an easy way to flit from place to place. But bicycles and their riders have been a hot topic in Skagway lately.
First off, bikes are getting stolen left and right. Even bikes that are apparently locked up are getting snagged during in the day and night.
Dustin Craney is the general manager at Sockeye Cycle and an avid cyclist.
“I think a lot of the theft is short-term borrowing, not that that’s not theft, but I think late at night from the bars, the bikes disappear and show up in another place in town a little bit later,” he said. “It is still theft and you should lock your bike up if you don’t want that to happen.”
The second issue is an increased number of complaints to the Skagway Police Department about erratic and inconsiderate riding. The issue is becoming so contentious the department put out a notice recently, outlining state cycling laws. Not abiding by the laws can result in a fine, the department said.
And the issue came up at last week’s assembly meeting. Here’s Assemblyman Spencer Morgan.
“I have always defended bicyclists in the past, and I think I’ve had enough of the bicyclists this year.”
Needless to say, the summer season has only just begun.
Morgan went on to describe a recent encounter with a pack of cyclists in the middle of the road.
“The other day there were four or five riding in a pack up State Street, going five miles an hour, weaving all over the road and no regard whatsoever for anybody around them.”
But, Morgan said it’s just one of many issues he’s seen as the tourist season gets underway.
“My concern is that a lot of this stuff is not even getting looked it,” Morgan said. “It’s the dogs, it’s the bicyclists, it’s RV traffic, it’s people setting up tours right in the middle of the street.”
Bicycles are vehicles, so they’re subject to the same laws. Signals, stop signs, right of ways, traffic signs are all the same when it comes to cars and bikes. Bikes also need to have headlights, taillights and reflectors, and fines for not decking out your bike appropriately can amount to $100 per violation.
Craney said when they rent bikes at Sockeye they’re careful to educate riders about the laws.
“It does seem to crop up from year to year, I think it’s just an influx of people from all different backgrounds and so, I think people don’t realize that they’re on actual roads and they need to act with the same responsibilities and rights as a vehicle,” he said.
On Tuesday, a spokesperson from the Skagway police department said they haven’t handed out many citations. She said usually reminders and warnings do the trick.
Find Alaska’s cycling laws here.