Salted with Sharks

Guest Column: Electric Skateboard Debate Ramps Up

In Activism, Breaking, Community Alert, Elsewhere in BenCo..., Environment, Gov't Watch, Infrastructure and Planning, Law & Order, On and off the Apron, Open Season, Politics, Public Safety, Tech, Transportation, WTFF (What the Frankfort) on July 14, 2017 at 5:03 pm

Please help stop Frankfort City Council’s ongoing effort to create an ordinance banning electric skateboards citywide.

By Carolyn Thayer

July 14, 2017

I’m asking for your help to spread the news about the Frankfort City Council’s ongoing effort to create an ordinance banning electric skateboards citywide based on the potential for a public safety problem.

Whether you use electric skateboards or not, if you oppose banning them throughout the city of Frankfort, this is the time to speak out.

  • Plan to attend the next city council meeting to voice your opinion on Tuesday, July 18th, at 3:30 p.m. at the Frankfort city hall.
  • Contact city hall at (231) 352-7117 (or submit a written comment to Kimberly Kidder, city clerk/treasurer kkidder@cofrankfort.net )
  • Encourage the city council to hold a public work session where city officials and residents can attend and learn how electric skateboards work so that everyone can have the facts to move forward.  Alex plans on asking the city council at the July 18th meeting to schedule this work session but needs community support to make sure it happens.

The proposed ban on electric skateboards in the city of Frankfort affects a lot of people in the community – residents, visitors, local business owners, workers, youth, adults, and others. Electric skateboards are an alternative mode of transportation that helps with our congested streets and parking.  Each car we take off the street helps, and leaves more room for locals and visitors. Plus, electric skateboards are a joy to ride for the young and young-at-heart. You can learn more about one type of electric skateboard at  https://boostedboards.com/.

Background: There has been a lot of history over the last two years of harassing, arresting, and detaining individuals over electric and push skateboards in our community.  Finally at the May 16, 2016, city council meeting, the Public Safety committee reported after reaching out to state offices that there is no state law against using electric skateboards on public roads, and it is up to the local government to create a local ordinance if they want to ban them.  Alex Thayer and Larry Bordine after much research reached that conclusion a long time ago.

Now the city of Frankfort is insistent on creating a local ordinance to ban electric skateboards in the city limits based on the potential for a public safety problem.  Police records show one electric skateboard incident ever in the city of Frankfort on July 7, 2016.  This is when a child bumped into a trailer being pulled by an electric skateboard rider.  The report indicated the child “was only afraid and not injured”.  Thankfully it wasn’t a car the child encountered.  Accidents with cars, trucks, and bicycles happen periodically in and around the downtown, but the city is not seeking to ban any of those activities.

The city hired an attorney who has completed a draft of the ordinance to ban electric skateboards, which the city has not yet released to the public.  How much taxpayer money is going to be spent on this topic?  The Frankfort Public Safety Committee will review that draft ordinance at an as-yet unscheduled meeting.

(Yes, there is more…please keep reading…)

As a parent, I have thought about the safety of electric skateboards a lot. 

·         Yes, it took some time to get used to the technology and to understand the boards’ capability.  If you choose to ride them you need to be a skilled skateboard rider.  They are not for everyone.  Alex and Quincy have been riding electric skateboards boards for the last three years.

·         Yes, they look like they are going fast, but Alex’s board tops out at 22 mph and Quincy’s at 13 mph.  Both less than the 25 mph speed limit on Main Street and less than a moped maximum allowable speed at 30 mph. They just are a stand-up mode of transportation instead of sit down.  And they are safer than our boys’ other activities that our community promotes – mountain biking on steep forest paths, paddle boarding the high waves on Lake Michigan, and downhill ski racing at high speeds down icy slopes for the local junior high and varsity school ski teams.  What is a bigger safety concern?  I’m going to say…not electric skateboarding, that falls at the bottom of the list.  Kelly and I do our best to make sure our boys have proper equipment, safety equipment, and training.

·         Yes, our boys really do use their electric skateboards for running errands to the grocery store and hardware store, going to school, work, transportation around town and over to Elberta, and just to have fun.

·         Yes, I wish they wore their helmets 100% of the time, but they are teenagers and wear them 90% of the time.

If you would like to discuss any of this information about the issue or want to see any of the official documents Alex has collected, contact Alex Thayer at alexjthayer@gmail.com  (231) 930-7544 or myself at carolynkt@charter.net or (231) 930-7545.

The time to speak out is now or this draft ordinance to ban electric skateboards citywide will be pushed through quickly.

Thank you.

Carolyn Thayer

831 James Street, Frankfort

(231) 352-6962 home

(231) 930-7545 cell

Here’s recent coverage in the Traverse City Record-Eagle:

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