New city skateboard ordinance passes 1st reading

Riding skateboards on Grand Haven streets may soon be allowed - but for one pragmatic reason.
Alex Doty
Nov 22, 2011


On Monday, City Council voted 4-1 to approve a first reading of an ordinance update that would permit skateboarding on local streets for transportation purposes, but not for doing stunts and demonstrating tricks.

“The current ordinance prohibits skateboarding for any reason whatsoever,” City Manager Pat McGinnis said.

A final version of the ordinance would likely be placed in front of City Council for approval in December.

“It would be legal to use it as transportation on the side of the road,” McGinnis said.

Based on the proposal, skateboarding would not be prohibited outright on local streets. Prohibited conduct would include riding on the back of someone’s vehicle, riding on the sidewalk, riding on the boardwalk, riding on the Washington Avenue sidewalk between Harbor Drive and Third Street from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and riding in a reckless manner.

McGinnis said the newest proposal is a scaled-back option compared to a version presented to City Council in September. The previously proposed ordinance included items that regulated which streets could be skated on, which way people could skate on a street, what type of protective gear should be worn and age restrictions.

“I think there was a feeling we overdid it (the first time),” McGinnis said.

Councilman Mike Fritz said he liked the new proposal, especially compared to the first version presented to council.

“I didn’t want to over-regulate it,” he said. “I think the first ordinance (did).”

Fritz said the new revision, if passed by council, would allow young people the freedom to ride around town to get from one place to another.

“Kids will be allowed to go back and forth, and not get stopped and told to get off the street,” he said.

Councilman Bob Monetza also supported the new ordinance.

“Having them in the streets makes sense, as long as they’re behaving responsibly,” he said.

While supportive of the overall measure, Monetza said he did have some concerns about a lack of age restrictions in the new ordinance and the potential for young children to be in the street unsupervised.

“Other than that, I think that it is a good measure and a good way to expand the use of our roads,” he said.

Not everyone was on board with the ordinance change. Councilman John Hierholzer voted against the change because of safety concerns.

“I can’t in good conscience vote for this because I think it’ll lead to accidents,” he said.

Hierholzer said he was especially worried about cars sharing the street with skateboards, in particular on narrow roads where accidents are more likely to happen.



From what I had seen from the first article the Grand Haven Tribune reported, there were over welming outcry from citizens against this measure, risking the safety & lives of the towns young, should not even be a consideration and if you think you can Legislate the young into compliance, well it certainly shows me this council is placing popularity over safety and just down right common sense.

Hope everyone of you shows up for each funeral due to your actions here, I am ashamed of you in this measure....


Each funeral.....really. Where is the common sense and compassion in that statement? What is the difference whether someone is riding a bike or walking in the street? Unless it is illegal to walk in the street. Yes I know there are sidewalks for walking. What do you want, skateboards banned altogether? People don't want them on the sidewalks or boardwalk (for good reason), now you don't want them on the road either. Where are they suppose to ride them then? As long as they (people on skateboards) are courteous and ride safely, I see no difference than someone riding a bike on the road. There are people that are doing irresponsible things on bikes on the road too. And yes there will be people on skateboards doing irresponsible on the roads as well. Just so you know there are people driving cars on the road doing irresponsible things too. Should we just ban all types of transportation on the roads, so we don't have accidents? Then no one will have to ever go to funeral of anyone that died in an accident.


hgfase, according to your rational, if everyone who supports skateboards being allowed on the streets should have to show up to every funeral due to a skateboard related accident, everyone who supports motor vehicles being on the roads or bikes being on the roads should have to show up for every funeral due to motor vehicle accidents or bicycle accidents.

It is evident that you have either had bad experiences with skateboarders or have just developed a flawed conceptualization of skateboarding. Skateboards are a legitimate means of transportation that should be allowed somewhere; if not on the sidewalks, on the road. Skate parks are great, but pointing to them as an alternatives to allowing skateboards on the road is like telling somebody with a car to stay off the street because there are racetracks available for use. People use their skateboards to get to work and class, and for exercise.

As for the comments saying that those in support of this are trying to be popular and the comments saying that this isn't the will of the people: You can't both be right. If they are really trying to be popular, it must be the will of the people. Conversely, if it isn't the will of the people, they must not be trying to be popular. Sometimes what is right and fair isn't the will of the people with the loudest voice...

Allow skateboards on the roads, hold them to traffic laws, just like cars, just like bikes. If an individual wants to do tricks or disregard traffic laws, they should go to the appropriate venue (just like someone who wants to drive fast or do doughnuts with their car should go to the proper location). By the way, skateboards do have brakes (it's your feet, and they are sufficient for normal use).


phreek - your wisdom is born from a different source than mine.....Accidents happen everyday but we all have a responsibility to do our best in avoiding as much as we can.... Think on it ! I have said all I will, and just hope that true wisdom prevails and hope what I know, will not come to pass....


my first reaction is WOW..stupid but I will try and look at this logically. I think hgfase goes a little over the top but has some very valid concerns. If the vast majority of citizens look at this negatively, them shame on you City Manager and Council Members that pushed for it. Will there be accidents..most certainly. Many probably without the skateboarder staying around because they will cause some for sure without being actually struck. Will funerals rise becasue of this?? I certainly hope not and scare tactics are the wrong approach if you don't like this hgfase.

Can skateboarders follow the rules of the road? My bet is the vast majority will not as they don't now! Sounds like Councilman Fritz doesn't like the poor skateboarders getting told to get out of the road by the police! So are you telling the cops of GH to NOT enforce the laws of the road Mr. Fritz??? I believe the State does not allow this now, is GH going to even be able to enforce this?? Can a cop give a skateboarder a ticket if he causes an accident if the State doesn't allow skateboarding the streets in the first place?? I would like to hear that question answered.

Personally I don't have a problem with the older crowd riding those longer type skateboards along the side of the road. But to counter ohwell in his response, how many skateboards do you know have brakes???? You cannot compare skateboards with bikes: they have brakes! As for walking, as far as I know I was always told by the cops you cannot walk in the road (or jog) if a sidewalk is provided. When not provided, you go agaisnt traffic so you can see on-coming traffic and get out of the way if needed. Sounds logical to me.


not so sure "logic" went into this. Not so sure this will be received so well by the driving public as I have seen the vast majority of younger kids that already ride skateboards in the streets totally ignore traffic laws for vehicles. I see a mess!


I see this as a potential mess as well. I would like to see them off the roads as well. Unless you open up the sidewalks to all (bikes, skateboards and pedestrians), you have to alternatives to let these people ride their skateboards. You mention the older riders on their longer boards. What difference does that make. There are a lot of younger people with long boards as well. Again you don't want them on the road or the sidewalk. Where are they to ride then? I can see the sidewalks right downtown because of the amount of foot traffic. But the rest of the city, have at it. Aren't that what sidewalks were designed for?

Yes bike have breaks...I am fully aware of that. It doesn't mean people are responsible on bikes. Vehicles have breaks also. How many people hit other vehicles, people, bikes, pedestrians or anything for that matter every day with another vehicle? Just because something has breaks, doesn't mean they get used.

Also you mention how the city council can approve if the majority is against it. Well welcome to Grand Haven. Better get used to it.


Ohwell - you are appropriately named..... Using a funeral was a means to place adequate understanding; to its intention, not to shock, but a ultimate "reality" if this ordinance goes unchecked.... Just watch when the the un thinkable happens, and all those involved "and their supporters" scatter and lay blame other themselves.

What is also disturbing is the fact there were so many who voiced disapproval of such a measure and like most government entites of this day, goes right ahead with no accountability doing what "they were not elected to do"

I believe the young of today are worth fighting for, if this Grand Haven City Council Approved Ordinance becomes active, just one serious injury or death is too many.

Kudos to John Hierholzer who stands alone on this city council voting his conscious belief in safety over popularity....

Hope rational thinking returns to Grand Haven, our ancestors would not be proud....


I do understand why scateboarders and bikes don't use the sidewalks, as I know first hand most of our city sidewalks are in terrible shape, holes, large cracks, voids between concrete slabs, warping slabs, they are terrible to ride on, not to mention walking on. Also mention having to be ever so alert for driveways and vehicles entering and exiting, water hoses, childrens toys all hazards of sidewalk use. Hope now that the downtown looks so nice for seasonal visitors, we can get some effort for us citizens in updating our cities sidewalks before venturing into another downtown project....


We have everything else in the streets, why not skateboards?
Runners, bicycles....nobody obeying ANY traffic signs! Sure wonder why we put all the money into bikepaths.


STATE LAW (adopted by Grand Haven as local ordinance):

257.655 Pedestrians on highways; violation as civil infraction.
(1) Where sidewalks are provided, a pedestrian shall not walk upon the main traveled portion of the highway. Where sidewalks are not provided, pedestrians shall, when practicable, walk on the left side of the highway facing traffic which passes nearest.

UNIFORM TRAFFIC CODE (adopted by Grand Haven as local ordinance):

R 28.1204 Rule 204. Use of coasters, roller skates, and similar devices restricted; violation as civil
(1) A person who is riding in, or by means of, any coasters, toy vehicle, or similar device shall not go on any roadway, except while crossing a street on a crosswalk. When crossing a street on a crosswalk, the person shall be granted all of the rights, and shall be subject to all of the duties, applicable to pedestrians.
(2) A person who is on a skateboard or roller skates, including in-line skates, shall be considered a
pedestrian and is subject to all of the rights and duties of a pedestrian, except as provided in subrule (3) of this rule.
(3) The traffic engineer may designate those roadways and areas where the use of skateboards, roller skates, or in-line skates are prohibited and shall designate these areas through the posting of appropriate signs.

I think the City is getting ahead of itself when changing it's current local ordinance to be contradictory to the other laws that are already on the books. How do they intend to get around this? Both the State Law and the Uniform Traffic Code prohibit the activity in the roadway.

Fly on the Wall

Excellent work, B131.

Here in the fairy tale land of Grand Haven, logic and professionalism be damned! Traffic engineering has once again been put in the hands of your local aldermen who, with incompetent aplomb, will decree speed limits, stop sign placement, traffic signal timing, and barricade plans.


Bravo to a system of government that actually listens to what people really want! The people who ride these boards wanted this. They asked for this change so that using this form of transportation on the roads doesn't warrant a fine! I have the luxury of driving a car with very little effort, while skateboarders actually work up a sweat to get from A to B. Safety! How about paying attention when your driving that 3500 lb machine, get off the phone, look forward and actually take notice of your ever changing surroundings. Be a responsible driver and this will never be an issue! I'm to old to ride a skateboard but I still respect them as much as the danger of driving a car. The bottom line....if our sidewalks didn't suck so bad for skateboarding, this wouldn't be an issue, of course until someone complains about that. This should have never even been a law to begin with so why keep it. These types of laws are a waste of time to enforce and target the youth whom to my recollection were not criminals. Good job Mike Fritz! you have restored the real premise of who the government should be, one that listens to what the people want! Skateboarders are people too!


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