This month, city commissioners voted unanimously to lift the ban on skateboarding in downtown Grand Rapids. The only good thing to come out of the ordinance change is the footage of longboarders and news reporters shitkicking through the streets, and the comments posted by suburban moms who are now even more scared to enter the bustling metropolis.
If you’re under 15–as most cops will probably assume since you’re riding a skateboard–you will be asked to stay on the sidewalk. Also, you will supposedly have to wear reflective gear or a light while pushing at night like any cyclist would–which shouldn’t be a problem considering the recent peak in the 3M fashion trend in skate attire.
Those of us who are a little salty would say the new ordinance doesn’t really do anything for skateboarders in the city. If anything, the amendment might bring more attention when cops see us downtown, because obviously “freestyle” skateboarding that defaces property is still prohibited. Or as Joe Lafurgey put it, “Trick riding would be reserved to the park.”
Even though I disagree with the commissioner when he says, “I really can’t think of anything that’s bad about a long board,” I do have to give him credit for pushing to his office in a business suit when he’s over the age of thirty.
“More proof this isn’t your father’s Grand Rapids,” said another reporter. But what’s even better are the comments posted on the news discussion boards by Grand Rapids’ most well-informed citizens. Here are a few of my favorites:
“Skateboards do not belong in the streets. Stupid idea.”
“They aren’t punks….just, well losers if you’re still doing this when you’re over 16.”
“I dont know. A year ago i saw about 12 black guys dribbling a basketball sown 28th street. For real. So lets just open the roads dor anything.”
“Clearly you’ve never tried wheels over 60mm or under 100a. Longboards are not stopped by pebbles. I can ride my transportation longboard across patches of gravel if I have to.”
“Fred, I will gladly Ollie to kick flip you right in the shins outside of Peppinos if you are game.”
In reference to the possibility of a plaza being built: “Having all the skateboarders in one place will mean the police will know where to find all the drugs in Grand Rapids.”
“Maybe Ton Hawk will come to GR to practice.”
Needless to say, it has been a heated debate. To me, the fact that skateboarding is illegal is partly what drew me into it in the first place–because it pisses some people off to see us out having fun. If some long boarders are no longer getting tickets, more power to them. But for now, I guess fortunately, skateboarding is still illegal. I will say it feels good to push down the street and not have to worry about a cop blazing on his horn mid hill bomb 10 feet behind me.