Police Enforce Skateboard Ordinance

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Police are looking to enforce an ordinance already on the books involving skateboards and bicyclists.

“The problem with skateboards are, number one, it’s a safety issue. There are no brakes on skateboards,” Ralph Mason, with the Grand Rapids Police Department said.

Skateboard use is illegal in the downtown improvement district. It’s illegal for bicyclists to ride on the sidewalks; bicyclists are supposed to ride on the road.

“The skateboards cause damage to private property, to public property,” Mason said.

He said the city installed “stoppers” on the steps at Rosa Parks Circle. That’s a popular spot for skaters.

“What they like to do, I believe, the word is “grind” on the edges and what happens is, it destroys the cement. It destroys whatever it is that they are sliding on or grinding on,” Mason said.

He said businesses call the police department periodically to complain about damage to property. He hopes writing tickets for violators will serve as a deterrent.

“I’ve gotten a hundred dollar ticket before. They’re just doing their job. It’s respectable, but it’s not gonna stop a lot of kids from skateboarding downtown,” Teddy Seeley, an avid Skater said.

“I think it’s pretty pointless. Some people need a mode of transportation to point A to point B,” he added.

Seeley said skaters often head to the downtown area to skate since there is no local skate park.

He said an alternative or compromise may be to allow skaters to ride in the streets, using the bike lane.

However, that also is illegal.

“They can keep handing me tickets, and I’ll just keep skating,” Seeley said.

“I don’t mean any disrespect. I’m a skateboarder and that’s what I’ll continue to do,” he added.

Police said they’ll educate violaters first, and then they’ll start giving out tickets. The first offense is a $50 ticket, and the second offense is $100. The third offense is $200 plus court costs.

Follow Darren Cunningham on twitter @darrenfox17

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  • Peter

    I did not know bikes are required to ride in the road.
    Why are they not required to obey traffic laws ?
    If bikes are required to use the road, they should be required to pay tax on that usage..just like cars/trucks

    • Jeff

      First of all, Peter, bikes ARE required to obey traffic laws, use hand turn signals, obey lights and speed limits, etc. Second, we live in a state without toll roads. There are no specific taxes that cars/trucks pay to use the roads. Funding for Michigan's roads come from vehicle registration and gas taxes. Maybe instead of complaining about this mysterious tax you pay to use the roads, you should become more familiar with how things actually work before making comments in a public forum! OR, if you really have a problem with the gas tax, you could always get a bike as well!

  • Richard Shredder

    Skateboards do have breaks. Its called using your foot. Foot breaking is just as effective as using the break on your bike or car. Who are these shop owners that have such a problem with skaters in the streets? I've been skating at Rosa Parks for years and I work for the City. There is almost no damage to that cement. These accusations are seriously misleading. The only thing that I see happening is a very conservative community hindering one group of peoples ability to creativity and athletically express themselfs. Why is it that the city just spent millions on creating these new bike lanes if we can't use them? If you ask me what the real problem is, is that the majority of drivers out there don't have any respect for pedestrians at large. Just because i enjoy alternative transportation and i don't drive around a gas guzzling SUV doesn't make me the enemy. Look at other major city's take on Biking and Skateboarding and you fill see how behind the times Grand Rapids is. Way to stay progressive GR. People wonder why the educated youth don't come back after college. Lets just keep the focus on Fart Prize, that's how we'll show the world how we shine. #Equalityforall

    • Richard Shredder

      Not to mention that every time somebody rides their bike/ board downtown, that's one less parking spot taken up. One less car you have to wait behind at the light. One less gallon of gas wasted, waiting to drive 10 feet to the next red light. 30 more years and we won't have to deal with the old rigid ways of people that didn't grow up with the internet, and when i say the internet i mean free information. Ignorance isn't something that you can't blame somebody for anymore, it's a choice.

  • Cici Plank

    I question why a city that wants to be progressive, diverse and able to attract business does'nt support a skatepark. Why does Grand Rapids provide basketball courts, ball diamonds, tennis courts, swimming pools, soccerfields, water playgrounds but can't support skateboarders. Grand Rapids is seriously lacking the vision of what a skatepark could provide as revenue. Oops, sorry I forgot, skateboarders have Clemente Park. What a joke, whatever equiment is available was by no help from the city (that I am aware of).

    A skatepark in Grand Rapids could make the city a destination…..or skateboarders can always head to Holland or Grand Haven .