The Boone Town Council recently voted to draft language that would allow skateboards on sidewalks in Boone, and this decision, while novel, is a terrible idea.
This vote occurred at the March 22 town council meeting. The ordinance would allow for the use of skateboards and inline skates on sidewalks in town, excluding King Street.
At the meeting, the council was presented with preliminary language drafted by the Alternative Transportation Sub-Committee and the Cruzin’ Committee.
Skateboards would be allowed to be used “for point to point transportation in areas other than King St. in areas between College St. and Straight St.,” according to the preliminary language. Furthermore, riders would not be allowed to perform “tricks,” and they would have to get off of their boards and yield to people who are walking.
For Sierra Clubb, a senior chemistry major, these changes would be acceptable.
“I feel like as long as there are no pedestrians walking on the sidewalk, it is not a big deal and it is fine,” Clubb said. “But I think that if they come across someone walking then they should stop skating or move to the bike lane.”
Nathan Godwin, an App State alumnus and a member of the Cruzin’ Committee who helped facilitate the initiative, said via email that a lot of thought had been put into deciding the boundaries for skateboarders.
“We knew downtown King Street would be a questionable place to allow for skateboarding because of the heavy traffic on sidewalks, as well as lots of stores being close to the sidewalk,” Godwin said. “So we proposed that areas of King Street would still prohibit skateboarding to protect the interests of the town.”
Godwin claimed that this ordinance change would be beneficial to students who already commute this way as they would not receive citations for skateboarding to campus anymore.
But, there was a reason that they were getting citations, and it is because skateboarding on sidewalks is illegal.
“No person may ride or drive a bicycle, roller skates, roller blades, inline skates or skateboard upon any sidewalk,” according to the current ordinance.
The fact that the skateboarders of Boone cannot seem to adhere to this simple rule does not bode well for the future if this ordinance is passed.
If they will not follow the rule to not skateboard when it is not allowed at all, how can skateboarders in Boone be trusted to stay off of King Street, yield to pedestrians and not perform tricks?
Nicholas Williams, a senior economics major and a member of the Cruzin’ Committee, said via email that this ordinance change would benefit the students of App State as a new mode of point-to-point transportation.
“We believe that skateboarding is a viable and safe use of alternative point-to-point transportation — it is also a sustainable mode of transportation within town limits,” Williams said.
While skateboards are sustainable and safe, so are bicycles, and bicycles are legal in the town of Boone.
They are also a great mode of point-to-point transportation that is good for the environment and faster than walking. Except they do not crowd the sidewalks because they are allowed on the road.
It is not as if there are not any places in the town for people to skateboard. The Boone Town Council recently set aside land and funding to build a skate park on the Greenway Trail near the former Watauga Humane Society building. The town has been quite accommodating of people’s desire to skateboard.
Therefore, when the time comes for the council to vote on the ordinance change, it should not pass.
Skateboarders do not seem to be able to follow the ordinance as it is, so why should they be given a privilege that they have not earned? All it would take is a few people to ruin it for the majority of skateboarders, and it is highly doubtful that after citizens complain to the council about being run into or run over that the council will be as generous with skateboarders in Boone as they have been.
There are more than enough viable, alternative and sustainable forms of transportation around Boone. Therefore, there is no need for this ordinance to pass.
Q Russell is a junior journalism major from Charlotte, North Carolina. You can follow him on Twitter at @Q_M_Russell
Cartoon by: Jarret Carlson, Cartoonist
Featured image caption: “Sk8tBoard” by Jarret Carlson