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Friday, March 30, 2012

Who Has the Right of Way?

The warm weather we have been having has brought questions about bicycles and pedestrians. “Is it legal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk in Newton Falls? When coming towards each other, who has the right of way, the pedestrian or bicyclist?” While the Newton Falls Public Library staff cannot give legal opinions, we can direct our patron to the laws pertaining to their inquiries.

In response to the first question, section 373.11a Riding on Sidewalks of the Newton Falls Codified Ordinances states: “No person shall operate a bicycle upon a sidewalk within a business district or upon a sidewalk where signs are erected prohibiting such.”

As to our patron’s second question, there are a couple of different ordinances which pertain depending whether the situation takes place on the sidewalk or on the road. 
  • 373.01a Code Application to Bicycles states “The provisions of this Traffic Code that are applicable to bicycles apply whenever a bicycle is operated upon any street or upon any path set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.” 373.07a Riding Bicycle . . . Obedience to Traffic Rules: “Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway. . .  obeying all traffic rules applicable to vehicles . . .”
  • 371.07a Right of Way on Sidewalk: “The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way to any pedestrian on a sidewalk.”
  • 371.05d Walking Along Highways:  Except as otherwise provided in Section 313.03 and 371.01, any pedestrian upon a roadway shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway.”

During our search we discovered some other interesting laws applying to bicycles in Newton Falls.
  • 373.05a Signal Device on Bicycle:  A bicycle may be equipped with a device capable of giving an audible signal, except that a bicycle shall not be equipped with nor shall any person use upon a bicycle any siren or whistle.”
  • 373.12a Bicycle License and Plate Required:  “No person shall ride or operate a bicycle on any of the streets, alleys or public highways of the City unless the bicycle has been licensed and a license plate is attached thereto as provided in this chapter.”

Thursday, March 22, 2012

How Long Should I Keep Paperwork?

“I need information on organizing paperwork.” The Newton Falls Public Library staff questioned our patron for more details, wondering if she just needed information on the organization and filing of documents. She actually needed details on the important question of “How long should I keep paperwork?” 

The library has books on home and office organization such as RealSimple: The Organized Home by Kendell Cronstrom, but we needed to actually find a list of papers and documents and how long to retain them.  A Better Business Bureau website has a simple listing of important items and guidelines of how long to keep them. Some suggestions are: “Bank reconciliations - 2 yrs., Bank statements - 3 yrs. . . . Insurance policies (expired) - 3 yrs., Insurance records, current accident reports, claims, policies, etc - Permanently . . . Withholding tax statements - 7 yrs.” Our patron printed a copy of this list for personal reference. has a smart spending section entitled How long to keep financial records. It includes a chart listing records for taxes, IRA contributions, retirement/savings plans, bank and brokerage records, bills, credit card receipts and statements, paycheck stubs, and records for your home.  

Friday, March 16, 2012

Are Cinder Blocks Made With Cinders?

“Are cinder blocks made with cinders?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff thought this was interesting; one of those “are things actually made of what their names include” questions. Since cinder blocks are also referred to as concrete blocks, we looked for both terms in our search.

The first book we examined was in Louis M. Dezettel’s Masons and Builders Library v.1. In chapter 11 Concrete Block, pp. 170-171, we found our answer.  “Some concrete blocks are poured concrete made of standard cement, sand and aggregate . . . Some use lighter natural aggregates, such as volcanic cinders or pumice and some are manufactured aggregates such as slag, clay, or shale.” We were able to inform our patron that yes, some blocks are made with cinders.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Why Must Pedestrians Walk Facing Traffic? Why Must Bicycles Ride With Traffic?

“I know pedestrians are supposed to walk facing oncoming traffic, but I want to know why. And why are bicycles supposed to go with traffic?” Spring will be coming soon and like our patron, the Newton Falls Public Library staff is aware that more people will be outdoors walking and riding their bicycles. Understanding the reasoning behind these situations might help encourage people to comply.

In both cases, it is Ohio law.  Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 4511.50C Pedestrian walking in roadway: Where neither a sidewalk nor a shoulder is available, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall walk as near as practicable to an outside edge of the roadway, and, if on a two-way roadway, shall walk only on the left side of the roadway.” ORC 4511.55.  Operating bicycles and motorcycles on roadway: “Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable obeying all traffic rules applicable to vehicles and exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction.”

Our patron was still interested in discovering the reasoning behind the laws. On page 85 of Bicycling Touringand Mountain Bike Basics by Peter Oliver, the author explains why a cyclist should move with traffic. “The speed differential of a car going 40 mph overtaking a cyclist going 15 is 25 mph; the differential of car and cyclist converging at those speeds is 55 mph. The potential of impact is more than doubled, while the reaction time for both rider and driver is dramatically reduced.”

IdahoWalk Smart – Walk Safe, Walk Smart, Walk Often produced by Idaho Transportation Department states when pedestrians walk facing oncoming traffic they are less likely to be surprised by an oncoming vehicle [p.3]. Traffic laws for pedestrians and drivers to know from the Florida Department of Transportation states “A driver and a pedestrian who face each other are generally more aware of each other and crash risk is therefore reduced for pedestrians who travel on the left.”

One of our staff members fondly remembered a Camp Fire Girls’ mnemonic for safe walking: “Single file . . . facing traffic all the while.” Having a clearer understanding of what is behind these laws; our patron felt she would be better able to encourage others to obey them.

Friday, March 2, 2012

I'm Taking a Trip

“I’m taking a trip to Spain this summer, and I want to be able to say a few words and read easy signs.  Do you have anything here that can help me?”  The Newton Falls Public Library staff has heard other questions similar to this one which have included Korean, Chinese, Polish, French and Italian. There are some great resources available both in the library and online.

Some of the audiobooks available for borrowing from the library include Arabic, Chinese, French, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, and English for New Americans. There are also others which may be borrowed through our shared library catalog.

mángo languages is a wonderful online resource. By going to the library’s website,, and selecting Ohio Web Library, library users have the option to click on mángo languages. The user will create a profile, and then will be able to select from 38 foreign languages for English speakers. There are basic and complete 2.0 level courses. “Mango Basic teaches simple, practical skills for common, polite conversation situations in only a few short hours. Mango Complete 2.0 teaches in-depth and comprehensive language and grammar skills.” There are also 15 English courses for foreign language speakers. In both cases, real-life situations and actual conversations are used to teach the language. “By listening to and repeating after material designed from native conversations,” the user will learn the words and phrases and how they are used in practical situations and conversations. The learner can replay the courses as often as needed. The website also remembers where the learner stopped so they can begin again where left off.