Volunteers on a city Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) in Beavercreek, Ohio were threatened with criminal legal sanction — including possible “fines and imprisonment” — for “practicing engineering without a license” after a city engineer sent a complaint letter about those do-gooders to the Ohio State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Surveyors.
Cycling attorney Steve Magas took the case of Jerry Walling and Roger Brislawn, who volunteer as members of the Beavercreek Bikeway Advisory Committee. This BAC is designated in the municipal code as an “official commission” of Beavercreek advise city officials of their bicycling concerns. Their role is purely advisory; any actual engineering is done by licensed professional engineers employed by the city.
Walling and Brislawn must have done something to really annoy David Beach, who was then a city engineer for the city of Beavercreek Public Works Department. Walling and Brislawn wrote a bicycle & pedestrian accident report that highlighted the numerous right-turn-on-red collisions between motorists and cyclists. They made a few recommendations to improve safety, including specific recommendations to encourage cyclists to ride in the direction of traffic in the street instead of on the sidepath; and a “No Right Turn on Red” sign at this intersection where 18% of injury collisions occurred in this town of 45,000 people.
Beach sent a letter of complaint about this safety presentation to the state board that regulates professional engineering in the state of Ohio. The Board, in turn, sent a certified letter to the bike volunteers, accusing them of practicing engineering without a license (which is a crime), and informing them that doing so can result in “fines and imprisonment.”
While Walling and Brislawn prevailed with considerable pro bono assistance from Magas, criminal allegations against bike advocates can have a chilling effect on the thousands who volunteer time on advisory committees around the nation.
Read the details of how Magas defended Walling & Brislawn at Ohio Bike Lawyer: The Latest Attack on Cycling Advocacy.