By Ivan Raconteur
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN There may be snow on the ground now, but when it melts in the spring, Lester Prairie residents who use in-line skates, skateboards, or similar equipment will need to know about an ordinance that was recently approved by the city council.
Lester Prairie Police Chief Robert Carlson said the new ordinance is a response to problems experienced in the city last year.
He said officers encountered young people skateboarding in the middle of the street or in traffic lanes after dark, and they were not wearing any reflective gear.
Carlson noted the incidents involved not just one young person, but multiple people, sometimes as many as five to 10 in a group.
When officers stopped the skateboarders and asked them to move to the side of the street, the skateboarders did not comply.
Carlson noted he is generally not in favor of more ordinances, but he was concerned that someone was going to get hurt.
Prior to the new ordinance, law enforcement had no way to compel the skateboarders to change their behavior. Because they disregarded requests from officers, Carlson said it was necessary to put something in place to keep people safe.
He consulted the League of Minnesota Cities to get a sample ordinance that has been used in other cities, and this became the basis for the ordinance in Lester Prairie.
Ordinance 317 pertains to the use of roller blades, roller skates, roller skis, and skateboards.
Under the new ordinance, it is unlawful for any person to use in-line skates, roller skates, roller skis, or a skateboard:
• on any public sidewalk, street, or public parking lot within the business district;
• on private property of another without the express permission to do so from the owner or occupant of the property; or
• in any careless, reckless, or negligent manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger the safety of any person or property of another person.
It is unlawful for any person operating in-line skates, roller skates, roller skis, or a skateboard to attach these items, or the operator, to any vehicle upon a street.
Persons operating the equipment noted above on a street (except where prohibited in the business district) shall ride as close as possible to the right-hand curb or edge of the street.
Rules of the road are the same as required of bicycles.
The operator of in-line skates or similar equipment emerging from any alley, driveway, or building shall yield right of way to all pedestrians approaching on the sidewalk, and, upon entering the street, shall yield the right of way to all vehicles approaching on the street.
Hours of use
It is unlawful to use in-line skates, roller skates, roller skis, or a skateboard upon a public street, sidewalk, or other roadway between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. unless without displaying reflective surfaces visible during the hours of darkness from a distance of 600 feet when viewed in front of the low-beam headlights of a motor vehicle.
The reflective material must be a minimum of 40 square inches, and must be in compliance with requirements prescribed by the commissioner of public safety.
Police officers who find people violating this ordinance may impound the in-line skates, roller skates, roller skis, or skateboard for a period of three days for a first offense; one week for a second offense; and 30 days for a third or additional offense.
This provision is in addition to the maximum fine of $300 for petty misdemeanor offenses.
Any operator aggrieved by the impoundment of his roller skates or similar equipment may petition the city council for a hearing at the next regular council meeting after the impoundment.