Group pushes to reverse skateboarding ban downtown

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GRAND RAPIDS,Mich. --  Are longboards and roller blades legitimate forms of transportation in this day and age? There's a grassroots effort  to give them the same status as bicycles when it comes to sharing the streets and bike lanes of downtown Grand Rapids.

A group supporting an effort called "Legalize the Streets" is pushing to re-write the decades old city ordinance that bans longboards and roller blades from downtown, and on March 24 they will ask the city commission for support.

Charles Fricker gets around on four wheels; not a car, but a longboard. "It's my only form of transportation", says Fricker.

But when he rides  his longboard in downtown Grand Rapids, he is breaking the law. Right now, it's illegal to use a longboard, skateboard, or even roller blades in downtown Grand Rapids.

But that may change.

"There is no doubt in my mind that commuting on a skate board would work in downtown Grand Rapids," says Mike Dallas, owner of Bustin Boards. "There is already the bike lane infrastructure, and that could continue to grow."

A re-written ordinance will be introduced March 24 to Grand Rapids city leaders to lift the ban on skateboards, longboards, roller blades and other modes of transportation downtown, giving them same rules as bicycles, and keeping them off the sidewalks.

"It really should not be illegal in Grand Rapids, but I understand why," says Dallas. "It is an old law and needs to be revised. Years ago, when it was illegal, there was a lot of defacing of property. These days we are just trying to commute like the bikers."

Organizers said this push might open the door to one day building a skate plaza somewhere downtown.

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