New city skateboard ordinance passes 1st reading

Alex Doty • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:14 AM

On Monday, City Council voted 4-1 to approve a first reading of an ordinance update that would permit skateboarding on local streets for transportation purposes, but not for doing stunts and demonstrating tricks.

“The current ordinance prohibits skateboarding for any reason whatsoever,” City Manager Pat McGinnis said.

A final version of the ordinance would likely be placed in front of City Council for approval in December.

“It would be legal to use it as transportation on the side of the road,” McGinnis said.

Based on the proposal, skateboarding would not be prohibited outright on local streets. Prohibited conduct would include riding on the back of someone’s vehicle, riding on the sidewalk, riding on the boardwalk, riding on the Washington Avenue sidewalk between Harbor Drive and Third Street from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and riding in a reckless manner.

McGinnis said the newest proposal is a scaled-back option compared to a version presented to City Council in September. The previously proposed ordinance included items that regulated which streets could be skated on, which way people could skate on a street, what type of protective gear should be worn and age restrictions.

“I think there was a feeling we overdid it (the first time),” McGinnis said.

Councilman Mike Fritz said he liked the new proposal, especially compared to the first version presented to council.

“I didn’t want to over-regulate it,” he said. “I think the first ordinance (did).”

Fritz said the new revision, if passed by council, would allow young people the freedom to ride around town to get from one place to another.

“Kids will be allowed to go back and forth, and not get stopped and told to get off the street,” he said.

Councilman Bob Monetza also supported the new ordinance.

“Having them in the streets makes sense, as long as they’re behaving responsibly,” he said.

While supportive of the overall measure, Monetza said he did have some concerns about a lack of age restrictions in the new ordinance and the potential for young children to be in the street unsupervised.

“Other than that, I think that it is a good measure and a good way to expand the use of our roads,” he said.

Not everyone was on board with the ordinance change. Councilman John Hierholzer voted against the change because of safety concerns.

“I can’t in good conscience vote for this because I think it’ll lead to accidents,” he said.

Hierholzer said he was especially worried about cars sharing the street with skateboards, in particular on narrow roads where accidents are more likely to happen.

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