We seem to be having a spate of beach municipalities being really concerned about bare feet on boardwalks and piers.
I’m not even sure where it’s coming from.
We’ve known for quite a while that the Jersey shore was nuts in this direction. In Boardwalk Talk I noted that Ocean City had required shoes on their boardwalk for a long time. Cape May has also banned bare feet after 7:00pm for quite a while. I guess they’re not considered classy enough.
Then more recently, Wildwood, NJ went to ban saggy pants. Oh, and while they were at it, they decided to ban bare feet on their boardwalk. For safety. Here’s what that ordinance says:
4-2.6 Footwear on Boardwalk.
It shall be unlawful to walk or stand on the boardwalk and approaches thereto without wearing shoes, sandals or other protective footwear adequate to prevent injury from splinters.
Now it’s moved to Florida.
Fellow barefoot Alan Adler was recently there, and he provided us with this photo of the Deerfield Beach pier.
As you can see, it cites Ordinance 50-113. Here’s what that says, in part:
Sec. 50-113. – Fishing pier regulations.
(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to do any acts set out in this section upon the city fishing pier.
(1) Sit on pier rails.
(2) Walk or run upon the pier without shoes.
(3) Fish in a careless manner so as to cause injury to any other person upon the pier or upon the beach, including but not limited to, double trolley fishing, fishing with more than four poles, three for fishing and one for bait. Trolley fishing is a type of fishing that takes a very heavy weight tied to a heavy line. The weight is cast as far out as possible to use as an anchor point. Then smaller baited fishing lines are clipped onto the main fishing line and slipped down the fishing line to the desired fishing spot. When a fish hits, the secondary line, it is hauled up to the main line to extract the fish, re-baited and re-deployed. Individuals caught double trolley fishing will be prohibited from using the pier for fishing for a period of six months.
* * *
I guess you can still skip. Maybe.
This ordinance was just passed in May of 2012. They just snuck it by us when we weren’t looking, and there’s not a darn thing we can do about it. Looking at their meeting minutes, there wasn’t even any discussion about it. It just passed right through the City Council. And as far as I can tell from the picture, the pier boards look perfectly safe for bare feet.
Alan also went to Cocoa Beach, where he saw this sign.
As far as I can tell there is no ordinance authorizing this sign, so I have doubts about its enforceability. On the other hand, they do have a very broad ordinance authorizing their rangers and police to make what they call “reasonable commands” which include a command “[t]o refrain from engaging in any activity or to act in any way which is likely to cause endangerment to himself or others.”
But again, nothing authorizes that sign.
There is also this sign, right on the pier at Cocoa Beach.
[Again, picture provided by Alan Adler.]
Again, those boards look perfectly safe for bare feet.
But look at that picture more closely.
Notice a second sign partly obscured by the pole? Here it is:
They tell us that “Shoes are required” because the pier might be uneven. They are supposedly concerned about our safety. But when it comes to an obviously unsafe shoe, all they say is to “Watch your step.” No rule. No outright ban. No power of the state making a command. Just a suggestion to watch your step.
It’s like the idea of always wearing shoes is so ingrained they don’t even realize the utter contradiction between the two signs.
And that’s what we have to deal with.
And that’s why new signs keep going up.