In a Facebook group dedicated towards bettering Ludington through grass roots efforts over the last two years, much like the Ludington Torch has done over the last nine years, they recently had a member ask for information. He asked:
"So stupid question, not meant to upset anyone. Are there any laws about skating in city limits?"
One or two people guessed what was the answer, before another member (not me, I was on a mini-vacation) pointed to the appropriate city code section. Before any kind of meaningful discussion took place, if there needed to be some, one of the moderators posted:
"Thank you members for helping bring this issue to a complete resolution. At this time we will be closing comments on this topic."
The exchange pointed out a couple of problems social media sometimes presents in today's world. A guy looking for info asked a simple uncontroversial question and prefaced it by intimating he didn't mean to offend anyone or start an argument. In the Facebook and Twitter universes, too many folks find offense where none should exist, while others argue for the sake of arguing. On this platform, never be afraid to upset anybody else with a question or your personal views unless you are blatantly disregarding the Terms of Service found in the lower right link at the bottom of every page. If you do easily get butthurt over the littlest thing, this may not be the platform for you; your feelings, biases, and psychoses rarely matter in the general search for the answers or the truth.
Likewise, when an issue seems to be completely resolved, that often is not the case. On Facebook, it may be expedient to close comments when further posts may only dilute the topic or lead to an argument. Here, we prefer to keep comments open even after things appear to have worked themselves out, for there may be more to be said. I have been pleasantly surprised how many times articles from our first years have been referenced or commented on in the here and now, here and elsewhere.
The simple answer for whether there are any local laws regarding skating in Ludington is found, as answered, in Sec. 58-158 Operation of Coaster Toys of the Ludington City Code. Summarized: skateboards (roller skates, rollerblades, etc.) cannot be on sidewalks on James St. and Ludington Ave in the downtown area, on sidewalks/trails in parks, or where prohibited by signs or markings.
But laws are more than just words in a rulebook, particularly when it involves local law that may not be enforceable. This is a relatively recent law introduced in April of 2004, shortly after Ludington changed police chiefs and city managers, getting both from SE Michigan who went to the same school for their chosen careers. Section 58-158 was part of a wide-ranging ordinance passed unanimously with reported support from the fledgling Mayor Henderson's Youth Advisory Council, who allegedly were concerned for the safety of their fellow youths. Safety is often cited as the reason to take away rights and freedoms, as many of these nuisance laws, that just don't exist elsewhere, did.
But what this ordinance did was create a lot of rules and regulations for bicycles and other coaster toys that were not legally enforceable because of the state motor vehicle code (and Uniform Traffic Code), which ironically, the council adopted by reference that very same April 2004 night.
The motor vehicle code has a section for bicycles and other 'toy' vehicles, which has no restriction on the use of skateboards and their ilk. Local governments can create laws regulating bicycles and other toy vehicle traffic, however, this is rather limited as detailed in MCL 257.606. Summarized: Local authorities may regulate the operation, licensing, and registration of bicycles (section i) but nothing is mentioned about regulating skateboards, etc.
Even if we assume this was just an oversight by our state legislators and that locals can make laws regarding skateboards (etc.), subsection 3 states: "An ordinance or regulation enacted... shall not be enforceable until signs giving notice of the local traffic regulations are posted upon or at the entrance to the highway or street or part of the highway or street affected, as may be most appropriate, and are sufficiently legible as to be seen by an ordinarily observant person."
Ignorance of a local traffic law is a defense if that local law is not properly posted where it applies. So if you happen to get ticketed for skateboarding in a restricted area, and for some reason the clear language of state law does not convince the judge that the City cannot create regulations for skateboards on the public sidewalk, you can point out that the City has few signs banning skateboard (and bicycle) traffic.
A trip along both James Street from Dowland to Court Streets and Ludington Avenue from Harrison to William has zero signs (or pavement markings) regulating bikes and boards, but plenty of places to park your bicycle on the sidewalk. If an officer tries to ticket you on either venue for riding your bike or board, they have no legal basis to if you are otherwise respecting the rights of other sidewalk users.
As for city parks:
1) Copeyon Park has no signs on their small amount of sidewalk.
2) City (Rotary) Park has no signs or markings restricting bike or board travel on its sidewalks
3) Stearn's Park has no signs on any sidewalks, but they have a sign prohibiting bikes and boards at the far south side where the walkway loop parallels the lake, there is another sign on the loop just west of the city marina's water entrance/exit (see red dots on map below restricting bike and board traffic along the harbor path). The breakwall also prohibits these modes of transport, as do the main temporary walkways.
4) Waterfront Park/City Marina has a sign north of the playground equipment, and a sign where the sidewalk extends farthest to the east. The City Marina has a sign at its entrance barring bike and board traffic on marina sidewalks, and they have another on the sidewalk along the harbor (red dots). Signs also are posted at both ends of the marina's transient docks.
Those caught with bike or board in the Waterfront Park have adequate defenses at their disposal. The eastern sign cannot be seen if you ride on the sidewalk along Harborfront Marina; likewise, entering from the Robert Street area, there is no signage, nor is there on two of the sidewalks coming in from William Street.
A bike or boarder could also reasonably plead ignorance on the loop since the signs are about eight feet off the ground, and out of the attention of board and bikers, who must keep their eyes at ground level for the most part to be safe. If you are caught on the marina's transient docks, which is a very unsafe place to be for those modes of transportation, remember there is no restrictive signage in the two middle entrances to those docks.
So while local Ludington laws seem to strongly discourage bike and board riding in public areas, there are relatively few places forbidden to actually ride them, and these are primarily along marinas, harbors and lakes, where a fall could be dangerous. And that's a good thing, for it's very rare that a local government makes Draconian laws that would keep skateboards and their ilk off sidewalks, especially at the time when they were saving for construction of a beachside skate park, as Ludington did.
Closing comments and deleting posts from FB forums is becoming a ridiculous farce and routine many times nowadays if some administrator doesn't agree with your views and opinions. I have also noticed for several years now that most skateboarders and bicyclists don't stop for stop signs on back streets at all, in fact they almost always cruise thru them repeatedly, block after block, with no police action at all, unless they recognize some local that they don't like or know from other incidents. Signage and regulations are okay, as long as it is posted properly, and the offenses are applied fairly and to everyone, not just locals, as tourists are usually given warnings only.
Aquaman, you should know that Ludington police are well aware of the grief they received and are still receiving from prosecuting a bicyclist for not stopping at an unlawfully placed stop sign back in 2008. Once bitten, twice shy.
Some kids appear to be oblivious to the dangers at intersections, but an experienced biker and boarder travelling between 5-15 mph and using both eyes and ears to discern dangers, should never have to stop unless they see and hear vehicles approaching the intersection. It makes things more dangerous for everyone if they stop when there is no need to, and makes their travel much less efficient; this is why you don't see them stop unless they need to.
Furthermore, stop signs are erected because of vehicle traffic behaviors, not anything connected with bicycle traffic. Effectively, stop signs are placed because 85% of motor vehicles travel too fast in the neighborhood of the intersection to assess applicable right-of-way rules. Few stop sign situations require a slow-moving bicyclist to stop to gauge the traffic at the crossing.
Wow, thanks for the thoughtful research on this topic. Not everyone in the skateboarding age group has the capacity to understand legaleze. Since we do have a skate park in this town, an open thread about where one is allowed ride a skateboard is indeed helpful.
I haven't ridden a bike in this area, and hadn't even considered that there would be areas in Ludington where it would be illegal to do so.
Your welcome. We should all feel a little better that the few places marked as illegal to ride in 2017 are where riding would be quite dangerous for the rider and other users of the walkway, rather than the areas determined in 2004, where, if it was enforced, would lead to a loss of a lot of tourism dollars to the shopkeepers downtown from those who bicycle around this area.
Two great and reasonably safe rides is out to the state park (a 14 mile round trip) on M116's shoulder, and bicycling on First and Conrad between Ludington and Scottville. If you bicycle 30 miles or more at a sitting, there's even better routes. Don't ride on Ludington Avenue/US 10, it's quite the danger and you can use a multitude of safer (albeit longer) routes to reach destinations in the corridor.
Thanks for the information X. Did you personally tour the town looking for the signs or does there exist a central file at City Hall that has the location of signs along with the legal procedures that were taken to either approve or disapprove where and when signs were to be installed. If no file exists it would be of great benefit to citizens for the city to compile one in order for residents to gather information regarding concerns about what, where, why and how the City's network of signs came into being.
I did a personal bicycle and walking foray, where I looked for existing sidewalk markings (these have faded away over time, I remember seeing them at a couple of places, where they were missing now) and signs. I have no idea whether the LPD or City has a master file of their traffic control devices, but I would think not from my previous research.
One person out in California, where rollerblading and skateboarding is widespread through the year, compiled a list of California cities that had special ruled forbidding their use in certain areas. There was only three places with such rules, and most of them were very limited in scope, resembling the ones in force in Ludington to keep the clumsy from losing themselves or their board in the harbor/lake/ocean.
In my experience, the police only enforce bike riding rules when they are looking to harass someone or keep them away from their town. Otherwise, they tell the person the rule and let them go on their way. My experience of riding is not in or near Ludington but other places in MI.
That reminds me, IHAN, that yesterday was the ninth anniversary of the day I was harassed by LPD Officer David Krause for cruising safely past an unlawfully placed stop sign on my bicycle. Also on that day, the Ludington City Council voted to settle a whistleblowers protection/OMA violation with former Building Inspector Jack Byers for $250,000, claiming they had done nothing wrong but the cost of litigation was prohibitive. I had seen plenty of signs that our city leaders were going bad in my latter days of being on the LFD.
These same people three years later would throw away around $30,000 in legal fees trying to defend their non-disclosure of the City's business records with former councilor Nick Tykoski's business. Sadly, the corruption cabal continues to run the city.
It is sad, very sad and I have no idea how these people continue to rise to these positions. They must not understand at the end of all of this, all we have is one another and that is all that will matter. Greed and self serving only starves them from the amazing gifts that come from true service to one another.
Yes, service to others instead of service to self is definitely where it's at. :o)
It's hard to believe that 9 years have passed. It seems like yesterday when we were on the now long gone LDN forum. Then after that was dead and buried the soup forum started and quickly became the place where conservative ideas were not welcome. Funny how this forum being on the conservative side has far outlived the long gone soup forum. If it wasn't for X there would be no place to get the truth about City Hall and it's gang of miscreants. The people of Ludington owe X, big time.
Ludington Talks, the City of Ludington Daily News' (COLDNews)forum, illustrated to me by its course of actions, how the local print media was far from interested in addressing issues of local concern. I can't recall how many times I was tossed off that forum for putting factual material out that indicated wrongdoing by city and county officials. It always was done under the guise of it portraying the area in a bad light, which went against the pure positive propaganda the COLDNews wanted for themselves and their government buddies.
Lakeshore Soup launched next and started strong with myself as a co-administrator and promising free discussions, but signed its own death warrant after six months by badgering and throwing out anybody that didn't agree with a far left manifesto their creator created, showing that it was actually Chicken Liberal Soup.
Even before the Soup went cold, I started up the Ludington Torch late in 2009 to warm up the conversation, it has continued since, lighting the way for all views to be presented and discussed in a forum clear of the directed marketing and propaganda you find at all of the other local media. We seek the ultimate truths and we defend the little guys who are often left undefended by society; I think that's why we trend away from liberalism and the local elite cliques.