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.

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This is likely going on nationally as well.

I was wondering the same thing as Willy. XFLD thanks for taking your personal time to review the markings/signs.

I'm so elated that XLFD stated that this forum is left open so more can be said.  Basically IMHO the FB is in many ways a poor platform for organizing data. However I must admit that I don't live and breathe facebook like most people do, so it may have features that I'm not aware of.  

So hypothetically, moderators preventing a huge flaming debate in hopes to keep the content minimal, to the point so users can get the facts about a topic such as the aforementioned FB thread without reading an entire thread of banter could be understandable in some cases. However, I understand that encouraging people to engage in meaningful discussion can (at times) lead to wonderful things. 

I'm a right brained visual/creative person by nature, but have learned to be a bit more logical over the years, lol. 

In a nutshell, it is my perception that social media outlets lack structure and usability features for *some* types of content.

For example:  The beginning of this topic has a very thoughtful and detailed answer to the user's question. It has a heading and is under the general topic: "Waving the Torch Around in Our Area". Say by me posting a long rumination about lack of structure and usability of social media, it diverts from the original topic. Back in the days of PHPBB forums and the like, the moderators could split off a topic and give it a new thread with the heading of the divergent topic. Then for the people following the original topic thread, there could be a little link that says "this topic has moved to XXXX". In turn, that creates a backlink and gives more link juice for Google to index the site higher in searches for the given keywords. I digress, LOL!

I'm trying to figure out how to articulate this - was going to insert a table with examples for categories, but couldn't readily think of a top level/drill down category structure to use as an example. However a simple example relative to Craigslist came to mind. How many people have wished that there was a section for West Michigan in addition to the Muskegon section? Do people just use the search function for everything now? Are they just being force fed data in a stream like TV and social media home feeds?

Ok here's another example that non computer/web dev people could likely identify with: If you were in a library and all of the books had been pulled from the shelves and were scattered all over the floor. That's the way I perceive social media to some degree relative to topics. There are search functions, hashtags, etc. - but a lack of structure. FB has pages and groups at the top level, and then just a dump. 

Maybe I'm over analyzing this. Maybe it's just the geek inside of me that prefers a different format for certain types of content. Maybe I'm old school. >_/p>

In reality all of our user interface right down to the desktop is moving in the search function direction, basically being dumbed down. All apologies for the rant. ::grins::

The more information we can get at our fingertips, the less need we have for retention of that information in our little minds. If we could observe two equally gifted geniuses (or genii, if you'd rather) one living a hundred years ago and one living today, the one living now could store as much knowledge in his head, but would know a lot smaller percentage of known information and trivia than the one from 1917.  Dumbing down in the information age is inevitable.

BTW, I like what you did with your home page.

You are correct. I could expand on that in detail relative to technology but decided to refrain (filter) because it would divert from the topic even further than I already have. :)

Oh you noticed my tinkering. Thanks! I couldn't resist trying it out. Also discovered that the forum has a mobile interface too. Pretty darn cool!

I don't want or need a "smart phone" today, or maybe a long.............time. But that's beside this now, imho, so sad, this continues, and mostly because locals "don't run for office" that are born and raised here, not from Boston, Illinois, Ind., but Wis. would be welcome, as well as maybe Mn.. Mid-America values is what most locals and visitors should be, now and into the future, to keep us sane and Ludingtonians. Can this now happen and be prominent again???????


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