Boardwalk is in need of respect

Soon the kids will be back in school and vacationers’ numbers will start to thin as winter approaches our shores.
Aug 15, 2013

Many will revel in “getting our town back.” Others will lament the fact that another summer will have soon passed.

Whatever the season, and whoever is enjoying our waterfront landscape, there remains a larger issue that remains unresolved — bikers and skateboarders on the boardwalk.

While a great majority of those who use the boardwalk are respectful of others, there are some who frighten children, leashed dogs and older folks alike with unnecessary behavior.

Unfortunately, those people ruin it for everyone.

It’s not uncommon to see kids on skateboards zooming past and startling elderly people strolling along the edges of the boardwalk. It’s also not uncommon to see bikers — kids and adults alike — come within inches of running into young children or pets walking alongside their families.

People often have to jump out of the way, or else.

And that’s not OK.

When a Thumbs Down was placed on our Opinion page not long ago about this very subject, many people shared their close encounters with wheeled hellions. A few others took umbrage with the criticism and said that it’s those walking along the boardwalk who should be more respectful of the wheeled ones, not the other way around.

OK, so how about we all respect one another?

Here are a few suggestions we should all abide by:

• Don’t stop in the middle of the boardwalk to chat, thus blocking passersby. Go off to the side if you want to stop and talk.

• Take care that your dog and its leash doesn’t trip people on the boardwalk, and that they’re well-behaved around others.

• Don’t take up the entire boardwalk with your groups of bicycles. Ride single file if there are others on the walkway.

• If you’re on wheels and coming up on a walker, give a friendly, “Passing on your left,” or “Right behind you,” so the walkers can move safely over.

• Don’t speed by on your board or bike at record speeds unless you have a lot of room and can pass them by a wide berth.

• Slower walkers should walk to the right so faster walkers can go by. From time to time, stop at a bench to rest, or off to the side, to let runners or fast folks move along undeterred.

• Don’t go on the boardwalk with wheels (other than wheelchairs or other assistive devices) during busy times. Just don’t do it. Go on the many bike paths in the area, or to the skate park set up just for skateboarders.

• Step off to the side to take pictures so you don’t delay those behind you.

But most of all, relax. Enjoy the view and smile at people. Say hi.

The boardwalk is a special place, but one that has no one owner. Just because you think it’s your boardwalk , or your town, doesn’t mean you can’t share it respectfully with visitors and fellow residents.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.



An additional suggestion to make the boardwalk experience pleasant for all: Those walking dogs, please pick up after them.


Really, are you kidding, you think you needed to spell that out? The people that wouldn't clean up after their pet are not reading anything on the internet; probably not reading at all for that matter.


Not kidding, r u


I don't ride skateboards, bikes, or anything else for that matter on the boardwalk. Having grown up in Grand Haven I am aware of the congestion on the boardwalk. It is not difficult to predict when it may be more busy than other times. Having said that, I do not think that bikes, skateboards, or anything else you wish to manually propel down the boardwalk should be prohibited or singled out. If you are going to walk, ride, skate, etc.., be polite and courteous and everyone should be able to enjoy. I'm a dog owner, I do not bring my dog down to the board walk during those busy times. It is not my board walk, I don't pretend it is. I understand that younger kids and teenagers lack some respect and general consideration. When did we decide to just ban all that is annoying, instead of educating our youth to have respect. We were all young once and it is easy to forget that. This is a great town to live and raise children, lets keep it that way. Every complaint that has been broadcast lately appears to be gearing towards a retirement community. The only problem is that many of the retirement community is only here for 3 months a year.


I bike almost daily. After reading this, I thought I'd ride to the boardwalk and observe. I saw one guy in his late teens riding fast along the boardwalk with no hands weaving through the people walking. Though I waited for the splash in the river, he managed to bike away out of view.

I came across five individual bikers along the way. Each one rode conservatively working their way carefully through the people and were very courteous as they went along.

Six skateboarders were seen in three separate groups of two. All three groups skated along and caused no problems and stopped when they needed to and waited for opening to continue on.

I came across one group of five walkers that walked side-by-side so nobody else could get around. When I rang my bell though, they quickly moved to the side, apologized and we exchanged a little bit of friendly chat before riding on.

Other than the one wild rider, everyone else was very kind and courteous.

Yesterday, my wife and I went downtown for a Gyro. As we ate our food inside, we saw three boys around 10 years old ride up on their skateboards and take over one of the outside tables. They chatted amongst each other for a minute, then one got up, walked in and returned with three hotdogs and fries. They ate, cleaned up after themselves making sure the table was clean and left. My wife and I were amazed at the maturity they showed at such a young age.

Let's not throw out the bushel of apples because we have one or two bad apples in the bunch. Yes, the bad apples are out there, but that majority have great manners and are pleasant to be around.

In short... thumbs down to those bad apples, but a huge thumbs up for the silent mature and well mannered majority.

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