On Monday, city council members in Russell, Kentucky committed the unfortunate act of passing an ordinance that bans skateboarding on all city property. This includes streets and sidewalks, as well as any private property that has signs posted prohibiting skateboarding.
According to WSAZ News, “Some neighbors told WSAZ that they don’t mind kids skateboarding, but it’s become dangerous with younger kids playing outside and dangerous for drivers, nearly hitting skaters head-on.”
Yes, skateboarding in the streets can be dangerous at times. And for a town that doesn’t have that many skaters (as you’ll see below), it means citizens typically aren’t prepared for encountering them in the streets.
But WSAZ also cites vandalism as the other main reason for the skateboarding ban, saying, “Some neighbors on Monroe Drive say it’s not the skateboarding, it’s the vandalism that has come along with it, including eggs being thrown at their homes.”
This is typically a major misconception that city council members and older citizens have of skateboarding being the cause of drugs and vandalism in a town. I remember when I was a kid and our skate park was eventually filled-in because of “vandalism by skateboarders”.
But it was mostly always other kids who would come and smoke cigarettes, start fights, spray paint graffiti and start fires in the trash cans who made it seem like the skate park was this place of hedonism. It couldn’t have been further form the truth.
This seems to be the same case in Russell, as skateboarder Chase Bates had this to say to WSAZ:
“It’s what we love to do, it keeps us out of trouble, it’s unique. You don’t see it a lot around here, we do it pretty often. It’s a good thing to keep your mind off maybe going out and drinking, I might just want to go skate one night, you know. It’s kept me out of trouble in the past and hopefully it can in the future as long as it doesn’t keep getting banned in all these places.”
What’s more likely here: that a few outlier kids that skate are the ones causing trouble, or that it’s the general teenage population of Russel doing the damage, whether they skate or not?
The initial fine skaters will face for a first-time offense is $50, with the possibility that the officer could take your skateboard. If one violates the ordinance two times in two years, it’s a $100 fine. Anyone who does it three or more times in two years will receive a $200 fine.
The ordinance goes into effect June 1. Hopefully Bates and his friends who skateboard can find a route to having the ban lifted or finding other places to skate and stay out of trouble.
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