Despite a current voiced ban on bicycles and scooters, skateboard riders are often seen in the skate park.

Despite a current voiced ban on bicycles and scooters, skateboard riders are often seen in the skate park.

File photo


Bikes, scooters may be ticketed in Riley Skate Park

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published August 21, 2019

 A sign posted at the entrance of Riley Skate Park alerts people that bikes are prohibited.

A sign posted at the entrance of Riley Skate Park alerts people that bikes are prohibited.

Photo by Jonathan Shead

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FARMINGTON HILLS — The Farmington Hills City Council approved the introduction of a new ordinance Aug. 12 that prohibits bikes and scooters from Riley Skate Park.

The initial reading of the ordinance passed 4-2, with council members Theresa Rich and Randy Bruce voting no on the measure. The ordinance will come back to the council Aug. 26 for a second vote. If passed then, the law will officially take effect 21 days later.

Despite having signage at the park, located at 35520 W. Eight Mile Road, within Founders Sports Park, and a ban on bikes and scooters for all 10 years the skate park has been open, Deputy Director of Special Services Bryan Farmer said the Parks and Recreation Department went to the council looking for a way to give police and park rangers more authority to enforce the rules against repeat violators.

“The difference is bikes that continue to come and don’t follow the rules — there’s nothing we can do about it. The police can’t enforce it, even though it’s a rule on the sign,” Farmer said. “It’s nothing new besides just giving a little bit more authority to the police to be able to say, ‘We can give you a ticket now,’ because it’s an official ordinance.”

Farmer said their goal is not to give out tickets, which would carry the penalty of a misdemeanor like other ordinance violations, but they will to those who continue to ignore the rules or authority of police and park rangers.

“We wouldn’t have thought to create the ordinance if there wasn’t cause for it,” said Park Ranger Superintendent Bill Wright. “Just putting stuff on the books is not something we’re out to do.”

Mainly, Farmer explained, they’re enforcing this ban because bikes and scooters cause damage to the skate park’s concrete, costing the city money and time to repair it, and those types of equipment bring a safety risk to other park users. In the last year, the city closed down the park for two weeks and put approximately $10,000 into repairs — $20,000 in total when factoring in staffing and labor costs.

“With our research on skateboarding, to have both activities going on at once, there’s liability concerns where people are going to get hurt. You can’t always avoid a bike hitting a skateboard, and who’s going to get hurt is the skateboarder in most cases,” Farmer said. “We researched before we built the park. We looked at it like we could offer bikes and skateboards, but we would have to staff the park. So, now we would have to charge for the park, and we don’t want to do that. We want to keep it free.”

Farmer said the costs to include bikes at the park outweigh the number of residents who ride BMX.

Rich, who’s in favor of a ban on bikes and scooters at the park, voted no because she believes the penalty of a misdemeanor is too severe for this specific violation. She believes a more appropriate penalty would be a civil infraction.

“Anytime we pass an ordinance, it’s serious business. Ordinances last for decades usually, and so we need to do this with thought and deliberation,” she said. “If it’s bikes and scooters causing the damage, then I totally agree we should prohibit them. My problem is the penalty. … I don’t think it’s the right approach knowing this is coming in as a criminal offense potentially, just to pass the ordinance and clean it up later.

“I think we need to look at the penalty portion of our ordinances from the point of view of benefit versus impact.”

While Rich would have preferred to discuss modifying the penalty associated with the ordinance first, Mayor Ken Massey, who voted to approve the ban, said the answer of why the council shouldn’t wait was “real simple.”

“The prohibition of these things needs to be done now because the damage and risks are occurring now,” he said. “The broader issue, being civil versus misdemeanor — every one of our parks prohibitions have been listed as misdemeanors for the last 40 years. It’s not been a problem. … I trust our Police Department to use good judgment.”

Overall, Massey said, this ban will “put some rigor to our current, voiced ban.”

“People who are repeat offenders, they’ll understand the city is taking this seriously, and it’ll help us continue to keep the skate park in great condition for those who want to use it,” he said. “It’s a community asset. Hopefully, this ban will help us protect it.”

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