NORTON SHORES, Mich. (WZZM) -- May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.
One Norton Shores resident is trying to promote that, but he and the city disagree on one detail.
It's creating a stir among the Lakeshore motorcycle community.Joe Kidd is one of the few with two views of the road.
One is from his Harley; the other is from long hours in his semi-truck.
He's seen his fair share of accidents, and near-accidents, involving motorcycles.
"It's kind of ridiculous when we're putting three people in the ground in one week, the same week I'm being harassed for a sign that says 'watch out for motorcycles.'"
The issue isn't the motorcycle lettering; it's whose name is printed below.
Hot Rod Harley Davidson makes and distributes the signs for free.
Norton Shores Fire Chief Dave Purchase says it's advertising, and says city ordinance doesn't allow off-premise advertising in the city.
"What we do when we see these signs is pull them from city right-away and contact the owner to advise them what the city ordinance is.
Purchase says if the signs are on private property, they ask residents to take them down, and remove them if the residents don't comply.
The city advertising ordinance reads:
"No temporary sign shall be permitted which directs attention to a business or profession conducted as a permitted use, or to one principal commodity, service or entertainment sold or offered as a permitted use, upon the property where such sign is located."
Scott Janiga with American Bikers Aiming Towards Education says the ordinance isn't black and white, and went to the city for clarification.
"I've asked them to explain how does this pertain to a residential person, placing this sign, and they said to contact the city attorney," said Janiga.
"To me, if it was advertising and Hot Rod wanted to draw attention to themselves, they would have done something like color, or highlighted their section," said Kidd, pointing to the black and white yard sign.
"There's no phone number, there's no website, there's no directions on how to get here," said Clyde Whitehouse, owner of Hot Rod Harley Davidson.
Chief Purchase says the city has no problem promoting motorcycle safety, but Purchase says the city can't allow one business to display its brand around town and not another. He says the city has given residents an alternative for a few years now.
"The city has allowed homeowners to cut off the advertising logo from the bottom of the sign," he said. "To simply state the message, 'watch out for motorcycles.'"
"I find it an insult or disrespectful to take a logo off of a company paying for free of charge a sign that raises motorcycle awareness," said Kidd.
Whitehouse says he will continue to distribute the signs.
"If it saves one incident, one accident, it's definitely worth the effort," he said.
Despite facing citations, Kidd will continue to put the signs back up.
"Because I myself ride, and it could be me next time," he said.
Kidd and Fire Chief Purchase both hint the next step could be a court case.
Kidd does have a petition with nearly 100 signatures and he's hoping to gather enough support to either change the ordinance, or try to prove the city's rules don't apply to the Hot Rod signs.
Chief Purchase says there are two main reasons for the ordinance: aesthetics and safety.
Purchase says he's seen five to six signs on one city corner before. "They become unsightly," he said.
And typically, he says signs stay there until they become damaged, weather-worn, and then they become litter and debris.
"City mowers then have to deal with the metal debris," he said.
Chief Purchase says during the summer, they'll pull up to 50 signs a month just from the road right-a-ways.
There are different guidelines for garage sale, real estate, and election signs. He recommends you check the "Temporary Signs" guidelines under the city's code of ordinances.