Getting a ticket for skateboarding in Vernon, BC?

The City of Vernon is discriminating against green transportation

In 2015, the City of Vernon posted this on their website:

[We] want to help people get to destinations… self-propelled, like biking or skateboarding,” said Cleo Corbett, Long Range Planner and project coordinator.

Under the new slogan “Activate life” Vernon, like many other municipalities, wants to encourage more people to take green modes of transportation. Their 2013-2038 Master Transportation plan identifies these goals:

  • Increase community awareness of the benefits of using alternative transportation.
  • Increase travel options through improvements to public transit and providing fully connected walking,
    cycling and trail networks.

They also identify a specific action that needs to be taken in terms of Bylaws:

  • Revise the Traffic Bylaw in terms of designating corridors and facility types as suitable for use by small wheeled modes of transport (e.g. children’s bikes, scooters, skateboards, rollerblades and longboards etc)

Discrimination against skateboards

It’s ironic that Cleo Corbett says that Vernon wants more people to travel by skateboard, when their bylaws prohibit skateboard use on both sidewalks and roadways. Section 309 states:

No person shall use roller skates, skateboards, sleighs, skates or other means of conveyance on any roadway.

Ok, that makes sense. You shouldn’t use skateboards, roller skates, etc… on roadways with cars around. Thankfully, you can still roller skate and skateboard on sidewalks, right?

Nope. Section 801 states:

No person shall operate a bicycle or a skateboard upon any sidewalk unless so authorized by the Manager, Bylaw Enforcement.

So roller skating on a sidewalk is fine, but skateboarding is not.

Why no bylaws for mobility scooters?

Even more puzzling: the bylaw does not mention the hundreds of motorized mobility scooters that are driven on Vernon’s sidewalks. I’ve been hit by electric scooters while walking down main street. They take up a lot of space, and can drive erraticly.

So a 200 lbs scooter that can go 16 km/h is fine on sidewalks, but skateboards are not.

The current bylaw is inconsistent, unclear, and discriminatory

There are no good stats on the relative danger to pedestrians on sidewalks caused by mobility scooters, roller blades, roller skates, or skateboards.

If the City wants to maintain a bylaw, they should have data to back it up with data (and not just anecdotal opinions).

Furthermore, if they’re going to address skateboarding, they should have clear bylaws for all other forms of transportation on sidewalks (scooters, roller skates, etc…).

As a side note: any current harassment or tickets given by bylaw officers for people riding skateboards should have no legal merit, as their technical definition of a skateboard is flawed. Section 223 states:

“Skateboard” means a narrow board approximately “ two (2) feet long, mounted on roller blades.

A skateboard is not a board mounted on roller blades. That would look like this:

Skateboard mounted on rollerblades

If you are not riding a object that looks like the above, I can’t see how the bylaw would apply to you.

If Vernon wants to be green, follow Toronto’s lead

To encourage skateboarding as an alternative transportation in one breath, and then have bylaw officers giving kids tickets is disgusting.

Vernon needs to revise their bylaws, and they should follow Toronto’s lead. I particularly like how they word it in Subsection E of 313 (Article IV)-27:

“Pedestrians shall have the right-of-way on a sidewalk, and no person shall ride upon or operate a bicycle, roller skates, in-line skates, skateboard, coaster, toy vehicle or similar device on a street or sidewalk on the Toronto Islands without due care and attention and without reasonable consideration for others using the street or sidewalk on the Toronto Islands. [Amended 1995-03-31 by Bylaw No. 1995-0263]”

Give pedestrians the right-of-way, and ask anyone using wheeled transportation to be careful. That seems reasonable.

People to contact

Want to chime in on this issue? Here’s the people you should contact:

Akbal Mund, Mayor – Facebook, 250-938-0022, mayor@vernon.ca

City Council – 250-550-3572, email here

Cleo Corbett, Long. Range Planner – 250.550.7830, parks@vernon.ca

Transportation Committee – web

If you enjoyed this post, you can Tweet or Like it.