Common Sense dictates that vehicles should be parked in driveways, but what happens when that driveway crosses over a public sidewalk? Shawnee City Code says no to blocking the walkway.

Common Sense dictates that vehicles should be parked in driveways, but what happens when that driveway crosses over a public sidewalk? Shawnee City Code says no to blocking the walkway.

The City of Shawnee, with the help of the Avedis Foundation, has been investing in sidewalks all over town the past few years, but in order to ensure those walkways are used as intended for residents, Blue Zones Project volunteers are helping the Shawnee Police Department educate the community about codes related to them.

The sidewalk code has been there since 2002, but with increasing focus on healthier movement through town some of those codes are about to receive new zeal for enforcement.

Postcards are the first step in alerting residents to the city code, later will come warnings, then fines.

In an effort to work together as neighbors, volunteers have begun to spread the word that enforcement is coming.

“Hopefully we can work this out as neighbors and spare people some hefty fines,” Blue Zones Project Community Program Manager Rachael Melot said. “We want to protect the sidewalks and make them as user-friendly as possible. What we're doing is an education piece.”

City Code already agrees with concerted efforts to make Shawnee more walkable, so keeping sidewalks unobstructed is a matter of resident cooperation.

“There is actually a city code; we're not asking to pass anything new, there's no city enforcement ordinance that we're being asked to pass,” she said. “We're just notifying residents that this ordinance exists, and then we're laying the groundwork for the city to cite those who break this ordinance or law.”

Shawnee Police Department Major Rod Taylor said the hope is for a slow indoctrination and educational period before citations are issued.

“Some of these people have been there for years and years, and have never had a sidewalk,” he said. “Now all of a sudden we're asking them to do something that they've never had to do there before.”

He said everyone understands that, and it will be a slow process to get all on board.

“We hope to make it as painless as possible,” he said. “I think if you give people a long enough period to get used to the idea, it will make it a lot easier.”

For the next two weeks volunteers will be placing postcards on windshields in two areas with the highest number of repeated complaints — along Broadway (between MacArthur and Highland) and East Wallace (between Kickapoo and Pennsylvania). Cars still in violation after the initial two weeks will then receive written warnings; but the fifth week — the week of Halloween — police officers will begin to issue citations.

The fine for parking across a city sidewalk is $130.

“At some point our city found that this was so important to protect the right-of-way for pedestrians that there is a significant fine,” Melot said. “Now we're in a place where our community cares about it enough that we want it enforced.”

For more information, call the SPD at (405) 273-2121.