Bowling Shoe Law Being Debated in State Legislature

6:30 PM, May 23, 2013   |    comments
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- With all the corruption in Albany, one of your representatives is instead focusing efforts on something many of you like to do, bowl.

New York State Senator Patrick Gallivan (R-59th District) New York State Assemblyman Robin Schimminger (D-140th District) are sponsoring a bill that would cover bowling shoes.  The bill in the assembly is co-sponsored by Assembly members Brian Kolb, Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Jane Corwin.

It would require alley owners to post signs, warning keglers not to wear bowling shoes outside, lest they become wet and increase the likelihood that a bowler could slip and fall when they come inside  

Bowling shoes, designed to slip on the lanes, can become extremely slippery when wet.

"Some things that might seem small to others, might be of significance to another group," Gallivan told WGRZ-TV, while acknowledging that on the surface, such a law might seem silly.

In this case, the group most concerned bowling alley owners, who Gallivan says approached him seeking help to stem the tide of rising insurance costs.

Alley owners saw lawsuits by patrons who have increased, in the decade since the state made smoking in a bowling alleys illegal, tempting many of bowlers who smoke, to sneak out or a few puffs between frames, perhaps when it's raining or snowing....who then come in, slip, and then sue.

"There have been cases like that that I've heard about," said Roseann Lis, Assistant Manager of Thruway lanes in Cheektowaga. However, Lis said she was not at liberty to discuss whether such suits have ever been filed against Thruway Lanes, or its owner AMF, which owns two other bowling alleys in the Buffalo area more than 250 others across the country.

Lis also noted that even without a law, Thruway Lanes has long posted signs on the inside of exit doors, advising bowlers not to wear their bowling shoes outside and warning them of the potential danger in doing so.

"It's just good common sense not to wear bowling shoes, designed to slip, anywhere but on the lanes," she said.

Is this then, another example of lawmakers attempting to legislate common sense?

Perhaps, said Schimminger, but that make it unnecessary.

"It was legislation which lead to laws requiring restaurants to post signs instructing how to save someone from choking, Schimminger told Channel 2 News. "We have legislation that puts warnings on cigarette there are many laws that that provide for warnings to people to do what is common sense. There may be people who will look up and see the warning sign, and they just might be reminded that it is unsafe with these particular type of shoes that are designed to to slide to begin with."

An important component of the proposed law, however, would prevent anyone from suing the alleys, if they ignore the signs posted under state law.

Gallivan and Schimminger say if this results in lower liability insurance costs for bowling alleys, then the measure is not much different than others being clamored for (and in some cases being undertaken) to reduce costs for businesses operating in New York State."

"Constituents come in all shapes and sizes, and every one of them have their own particular issues," said Gallivan. "I think it's their representative's role to speak up for them and, if it's appropriate, to  provide a legislative solution. That's what we're here for," he said. 

Illinois, by the way, enacted an almost identical law four years ago.



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