Why prevent skateboarding?
August 31, 2005 7:59 PM   Subscribe

Why prevent skateboarding?

On my daily walk home past QUT in Brisbane I've noticed that they have just spent a considerable amount of time (and money I imagine) carving large chunks out of the concrete seating around campus presumably to stop skaters using it.

It got me thinking of how much money has been spent developing anti-skate street furniture, and this seems odd - why not develop furniture that skaters and pedestrians can use without it getting damaged and looking crappy after a fairly short time - accentuated by the skaters seemingly endless pursuit of removing anti-skate devices by breaking them off etc.

My only conclusion is that it must be to do with liability insurance, or do the authorities just hate skaters?
posted by richtea to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (22 answers total)
property damage, noise, "dirt" .... something like that. would you want people skateboarding infront of your house on your porch, even if it did no damage at all?
posted by Sonic_Molson at 8:03 PM on August 31, 2005

insurance is handy excuse. plus skaters tend to wax things in order to make the whole grinding thing work, which stains and leaves the concrete.. well, waxy.
posted by mrg at 8:06 PM on August 31, 2005

And there is the whole public safety thing. Not only does the damage from skaters present possibly dangerous environments to others; there is the whole point that you need to protect the skaters from themselves.
posted by oddman at 8:15 PM on August 31, 2005

I chase the skaters away from in front of my house because they often land off of the sidewalk and tear up the grass on my lawn.

/old lady chasing kids with a broom
posted by kamikazegopher at 8:20 PM on August 31, 2005

Normal point to point skateboarding doesn't affect much, grinding on railings and things makes the railings require paint quicker lest they rust out. Grinding on anything else wears it down a little as well.
posted by drezdn at 8:45 PM on August 31, 2005

>And there is the whole public safety thing
...and property/business owners want to protect their business. They don't want their customers/clients/workers, etc. be physically afraid and perhaps not go to said property/business.
posted by philfromhavelock at 8:48 PM on August 31, 2005

I used to live in a boston brownstone in front of which skaters would skate. They consistantly woke us up. They covered white stone with a black grease that can't be removed easily. And they obstructed our front door and occasionally littered.
posted by Common Sense at 8:54 PM on August 31, 2005

My city built a skate park not too long ago, and it has seems to be working. I don't see any skaters downtown anymore.
posted by Number27 at 9:29 PM on August 31, 2005

Historic building materials (marble, brownstone, wrought iron, etc.) are particularly susceptible to damage due to thrashing. I know Trinity Church in Boston had a particular problem with grinding on the soft brownstone steps. The solution in that case was to address the local skater community and develop a compromise solution -- they allowed skating in the modern fountain (usually empty of water) next to the church, and asked the skaters to police themselves about keeping off the historic materials. The solution was working pretty well when I last was hanging around in that neighborhood (some years ago, now).
posted by Rock Steady at 9:35 PM on August 31, 2005

"Normal point to point skateboarding doesn't affect much".

I used to think that too, but now I've seen old people bowled over by arrogant young shits on boards I'm inclined to disagree. Skateboards are a menace to pedestrians - high speed, no brakes, and terrible steering. Deterring skateboarders in pedestrian areas is a good thing.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:51 PM on August 31, 2005

They covered white stone with a black grease that can't be removed easily.

actually, this is parrafin wax that you can buy in the grocery store (or occasionally, surf wax). Initially the curb will just look constantly "wet", but after years/months of skating it'll accumulate dirt and stuff and look black. I used to love finding well-waxed curbs. But yeah, they're pretty much fucked for anything but skating at that point.

high speed, no brakes, and terrible steering.

high speed? well, no faster than someone jogging, most times. No brakes? powerslide, dude -- or put a foot down. Terrible steering? I assure you, most skaters can steer. although I do have to give you the arrogant attitude. lots of teens are surly, though.

That said, property damage and insurance reasons are usually why businesses want to prevent skating (although insurance is an iffy reason, as most of the skateboarders I knew came from families much too poor to consider a lawsuit except maybe in the case of accidental death or something).

When I was a skater, naturally, I was quite against not being able to skate businesses/private property, but now I've got to admit that we spent a lot of time being punks, really. part of the allure was skating where you're not supposed to skate, and then running from the cops or telling the security guard/authority figure/etc off.

of course, if you can't skate private/public property then you really can't skate ANYTHING. skating isn't primarily about moseying down the street (unless you're bombing a hill or something), so unless/until there's something to replace the private property skating, kids are still gonna do it, whatever obstacles may exist (i believe the removal of "skate stoppers" is a popular topic on many a web forum -- and when I cruised by a couple spots that were hot in this down back in the day, well, they'd already been "fixed" by the skaters).

In a way, though, it's a little sad that there's many classic spots of skating that you can't hit anymore. The fact, for example, that the Gonz is gone is like the equivalent of baseball losing Fenway park or something.
posted by fishfucker at 10:10 PM on August 31, 2005

I know that we once had a mayor who didn't care for skateboarders because they had funny haircuts and listened to unChristian music and smoked and did drugs. So he banned them from some of their favorite downtown skate spots.

Perhaps this is just a more subtle method of doing the same.
posted by Clay201 at 10:12 PM on August 31, 2005

Whenever I see skateboarders, it seems to me that they fall off their boards more than they stay on.

Seriously, they'll attempt a trick five times, and four of those times, they will fall off and the board will shoot out from under them.

One of those four times, the board shoots out from under them at speed and goes quite some distance. Even if they were the best skaters in the world, the board is no longer under their control.

It's inherently dangerous. It makes me feel nervous, and I'm nimble enough to get out of the way. God knows what it feels like to the less mobile.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 11:55 PM on August 31, 2005

Yeah, I think it's got much more to do with public safety/non-harassment, business protection and deterrent against punk assembly than insurance per se, although open public places are always something of a law suit attraction. And although I would side with those who say skateboards are easily stopped and not intrinsically much of a hazard, it's just that degenerate people like fishfucker tend to be irresponsible and socially uncaring. Local authorities and business owners can't really enact non-assembly rules (as they'd probably like) to prevent roaming hordes of young guys congregating and acting the fool. This is one way of attempting to control them.
/ex-skater /fishfucker baiter
posted by peacay at 12:04 AM on September 1, 2005

This happens all the time on campus at my school, and we've attached these really unsightly green blocks every foot or so, on basically any skatable surface (as well as in a few places, like in fountains, that just make me scratch my head.)

They impede skating, and they also make it really hard to sit down.

Since the rest seems to have been answered:

why not develop furniture that skaters and pedestrians can use without it getting damaged and looking crappy after a fairly short time

Cost. My university paid the cost of a couple thousand little green bricks, and enough epoxy to stick them down, rather than pay to replace basically every structure on campus. It's ugly and it's too bad, but there it is.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 12:27 AM on September 1, 2005

After my ex-housemate underwent hip replacement surgery she was knocked over twice in one month by skateboarders. If I could have caught the kids, I would have beat the crap out of them.
posted by rdr at 1:07 AM on September 1, 2005

I'm a life-long skateboarder, and the solution is public and private parks.

The reasons to stop public street skateboarding?

It's dangerous, it damages property, it endangers bystanders.

Skateboarding has almost always been rebellious, or has been rebellious long enough that for the purposes of argument it might as well have been forever.

The highly technical, obstacle abusing "street skateboarding" is a direct product of methodological and technological adaption to opression. "Street skating" involves skateboarding and testing ones own skill, agility, strength and control against available terrain. It evolved a few years after a spate of insurance lawsuits and authortive opression drove skateboarder out of existing private and public skateboard parks and private (or, ahem, abandoned) pools or other terrain.

Granted, street skateboarding has existed ever since someone strapped a pair of metal skates to a two-by-four, perhaps as long as 80-100 years ago, but the contemporary "street" style didn't really evolve and become the most accessible and popular form of skateboarding until post 1980 skateparks started to be shut down, mismanaged, or otherwise closed.

The key to building good community skateparks is to listen to your local skaters and get skateboarding adults and other experts involved. Dedicate to the skateboard park as much knowledge, effort, funds, and resources to the park as you do illuminated baseball diamonds, grandstands, basketball courts, and recreation centers.

I lived less than a half of a mile from one the first or one of the first new public skateboard parks in California after about 10 years of inactivity, a period of time almost if not longer than the birth of modern skateboarding with urethane wheels and empty pools and banked school yards.

This particular Southern California beach city probably had as many active skateboarders young and old as there were registered gun owners, basketball players, casual body surfers and boat owners combined. I rember that there were at least two actual half pipes just in my small few-acre segment of a half mile square suburban block, and numerous launch ramps, quarter pipes, rails and whatever else. There were probably pools being skated actively by old crufters as well.

They apparently didn't listen to the skateboarding public. The park they ended up giving us measure a very small fraction of an acre, say a 10th or 20th of an acre. It had a ridiculous excuse for a vert or bowl section that measured about 2 feet tall, and a traffic flow between the ridiculously crowded street and "vert" section that had all the planning of a hundred car eight lane pileup. It's like they based the park off of a 13 year old's rough pencil sketch and then shrank it "to make it safer", not understanding that flow and good design was much safer than some tiny, constricted little thing.

Ah, found pictures. link 1 Link 2

To do it right? Compare that to Newberg, Oregon. Which actually allows for skating. Just look at that sickness. Made by Dreamland.

Do you local skaters a favor and support well designed skateparks. It's a meditative, entertaining, and worthwhile phyisical activity
posted by loquacious at 4:21 AM on September 1, 2005

I want to thank everyone for this thread. As an architect, I know too well the need top "_______-proof" buildings and public spaces. But I have a soft spot for skaters, e.g., as well and was recently involved in some grass root efforts to not only stem bad legislation against skating in Shepherdstown, WV but also to develop a skate park.

From my corner (schedule and, frankly, talent contraints) the development of the park has stalled, although I am still enthralled with the possible sites and prospects of an opportunity to create a Isamu Noguchi-like skate haven.

I too have been intrigued with the idea of skatable street scapes but I think the mix of skaters and non-skaters is ultimately untenable. Witnessing the use of a "bench" by skaters in front of the Kiasma Museum in Helsinki -- yes, that bench might stand up to the rigors of skating on it but the skaters, at that moment, had not only made the bench useless for its intended function but had also created a rather sizable "pubddle" of activity which redirected traffic around them. I stood and watched the dynamic for some time. It is still an interesting problem to me and, aside from dedicated parks, I am not sure of the solution.

For what it is worth, I approach the idea of the skatepark as something that pedestrians and others might occasionally invade. I've sketched an idea as well that would put a chip-to putting green in the middle of a skater's donut-shaped bowl (not sure what that geometry is called). I don't skate or golf but I would love to see these crowds working the same turf. Skateboard park and par three golf together. Why not?
posted by Dick Paris at 6:14 AM on September 1, 2005

I never heard some many crusties bitching and moaning as when they skateproofed LOVE Park here in Philly. Apparently, they skateproofed it because "business people were eating their lunches there, and were being harassed by the skaters". So, Mayor Street signed the papers, did the deed, and the rest is history.

By the way, nobody eats lunch in LOVE Park. Seriously. The whole public-outrage thing turned out to be the work of one guy who didn't like skaters.

If losing the Gonz is the loss of Fenway, then losing LOVE is like the loss of the entire American League.

Amusingly, several extreme-sports interests offered not only to pay to de-skateproof the park, but also to pay upkeep. They were turned down. No more X-Games in Philly.
posted by Netzapper at 6:56 AM on September 1, 2005

Yeah, there are inappropriate places to skate, and yes, sometimes we/they can be annoying or inpolite, but so are rollerbladers, bike riders on sidewalks, people who change lanes w/out signaling, people who talk on cell phones in restaurants, loud motorcycles, etc. ad nauseum.

Is concrete that attractive in the first place? I say chipped and/or waxed concrete looks a hell of a lot better than anything that's been fitted w/ skate-stoppers.

One solution is to create mixed use public spaces built with skating, bikers, and pedestrians in mind. Or dedicated skateparks - they are popping up everywhere.
posted by drobot at 7:31 AM on September 1, 2005

To address the initial question.. I think it is cost effective to prevent skateboarding in many situations. Repainting is expensive, and repair is only a labor issue, but a decision making issue, sometimes there are multiple options available.

Skaters might be associated with noise, beer, smoking, weed, music, loitering, a ready made negative image campaign, and they don't have a good lobby. So it doesn't do much harm for the authoritarians to just buy into the negative stuff lock stock and barrel.

In NYC, they just did some renovation of a popular skating spot so that peds and skaters can peacfully mingle. Link.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 10:42 PM on September 1, 2005

Response by poster: cheers for all the comments people. Didn't think i'd get much response but was obviously wrong on that one - you've provided me with some food for thought for sure, so thanks once again : )
posted by richtea at 7:50 PM on September 4, 2005

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