Fact sheet: skateboarding as green transportation in Vernon, BC

Note: you can download this fact sheet as a PDF.

Fact #1: The City of Vernon currently promotes skateboarding as “green transportation” on their website.

In 2015 the city’s Long Range Planner, Cleo Corbett, made this comment on the website:

“[We] want to help people get to destinations… self-propelled, like biking or skateboarding.”

Fact #2: Vernon’s Master Transportation Plan has goals to increase alternative transportation usage

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.

Fact #3: Vernon’s bylaws currently allows roller skating, rollerblading, Segways, hover boards, and mobility scooters on sidewalks. But not skateboards.

Bylaws currently prohibit skateboard use on both sidewalks and roadways. Section 309 disallows skateboards and roller-skates on roadways (which makes sense).

But Section 801 goes on to prohibit skateboards on sidewalks (while allowing roller skates, rollerblades, Segways, and mobility scooters):

Section 801: No person shall operate a bicycle or a skateboard upon any sidewalk unless so authorized by the Manager, Bylaw Enforcement.

Fact #4: There are no stats that show that skateboarding as transportation is any more dangerous to pedestrians than rollerskates, rollerblades, Segways, or mobility scooters

There are no reliable statistics that show that skateboarding is inherently more dangerous than other forms of wheeled transportation. As mentioned in Tess Walker’s masters dissertation, “skating tends to incur moral and literal policing,” despite the lack of facts to back it up.

“If the data on the safety of bicycle riding on sidewalks is sparse, then it is non-existent for skateboarding.
From the Downtown Ambassadors’ observations, bicycles on sidewalks are a greater issue than skateboards.” 
- Olympia City Council

Fact #5: Progressive, green municipalities are moving to legalize skateboarding on sidewalks

Portland, Oregon has a particularly good policy:

It is legal to skate on any street or sidewalk in the city 24 hours a day.

Similarly, Seattle has a well-written bylaw:

Every person using a skateboard or roller-skates upon any sidewalk or public path shall use the same in a careful and prudent manner and at a rate of speed no greater than is reasonable and proper under the conditions existing at the point of operation, taking into account the amount and character of pedestrian traffic, grade and width of sidewalk or public path, and condition of surface, and shall obey all traffic-control devices. Every person using a skateboard or rollerskates upon a sidewalk or public path shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian thereon.
(Ord. 113546 Section 1, 1987.)

Download this fact sheet here (PDF)

By Justin

Professional burrito maker.

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