A Wise Idea
WALK DOWN A CITY STREET in America today and you are likely to see teens trying out new skateboard or in-line skating tricks on sidewalks or curbs. Today, millions of teens take part in those skating sports on a regular basis.
As in-line skating and skateboarding have grown in popularity in recent years, adults have grown more concerned about the dangers of both activities. On May 7, Canyon Lake, Calif., became the latest of many towns to pass a law
banning in-line skating and skateboarding from downtown areas, arguing that the skaters pose a threat to pedestrians, property, and to the skaters themselves.
Not all adults think alike, however. In Imperial Beach, Calif., the city council rejected a similar proposal to ban skating and skateboarding. Skaters and their supporters say that their sports get a bad rap and that other cities should follow Imperial Beach’s example.
Downtown Is Not for Skating
Bill Trembly, a Canyon Lake council member, said that the city’s skating ban is meant to make the downtown area safer. “Skateboarding is a legitimate sport,” he said, “but skateboarding in a commercial center is a disaster waiting to happen.”
Skaters, say ban supporters, often weave through crowded downtown streets and perform their high-flying tricks in busy areas, posing a danger to downtown shoppers and pedestrians. Another Canyon Lake council member, Frank Kessler, said he has had many complaints from people who have been knocked down by skateboarders or inline skaters.
Ban supporters also contend that skaters damage curbs and handrails when they use them to perform tricks.
Skaters should practice their sports in less populated areas, say supporters of the ban.
Rules Beat a Skate Ban
Instead of banning in-line skating and skateboarding in its downtown area, the Imperial Beach City Council proposed new rules to promote safer skating and respect for private property. Many adults in the community believe that only a few of the downtown skaters are causing most of the problems. “If we let the kids know what the rules are, then 90 percent… will follow them,” said Jesus Ramirez, owner of a skating supply shop in Imperial Beach.
Many kinds of vehicles, including bicycles and automobiles, share downtown areas and can cause as many accidents as skating does, ban opponents argue. Skating and skateboarding are forms of transportation, just as driving and bicycling are, say ban opponents.
Establishing traffic rules to govern the way skaters skate, say ban opponents, is the fairest way to deal with skaters in the downtown area.
What’s the best way to handle skating and skateboarding in downtown areas?