With skatepark open, a word on helmets

South Kitsap Skatepark opened today, after six years of planning and nearly eight months of construction. Immediately the place was filled with jubilent skateboarders and trick bike riders, according to Kitsap Sun reporter Brynn Grimley, who passed the park on her way home earlier.

Tomorrow (Saturday) there will be a grand opening celebration.

As work on the park was under way in January, I heard from James Gates, a local resident concerned with personal safety. More than one member of Gates’ family has had head injuries related to skateboarding.

“I am in favor of a park, but not in favor of accidents that are preventable,” Gates said.

The county, which owns the skatepark at South Kitsap Regional Park, does not require helmets. Signs are posted recommending use of helmets and knee pads. Those signs confer “recreational immunity” on the county from anyone who would sue over injuries from use of the skatepark, according to Ric Catron, the county’s parks project manager.

Catron is from Oregon, where helmets are required by law for bike riders and skateboarders under 16. Earlier this year a bill, now dead, proposed to raise the age to 18.

Catron was surprised by Washington’s lack of a similar helmet law. In Oregon, where Catron also worked in parks development, violators could be fined, heftily. Some jurisdictions confiscated skateboards from those who neglected the law.

Gates thinks South Kitsap Skatepark Association, a major donor to the skatepark, should take the lead in educating young skateboarders about the importance of helmets, and, Gates said, they should lead by example. Mike VanDenBergh one of the SKSPSA’s leaders said he always wears a helmet and has his children, Ethan, 13, and Sophie, 11, do so as well.

At the event Saturday, professional skateboarders will be giving tips. It will be interesting to see if safety is emphasized in their lessons.

Parents, do you make your children wear helmets? Do you wear them yourself?

3 thoughts on “With skatepark open, a word on helmets

  1. I never wore helmets as a kid on skateboards or bikes and luckily was never hurt. On my motorcycle I did. As an adult I now always wear my helmet when I bike. My son got his first bike helmet when he was 18 months when we got him one of those tricycle stroller thingies and he has been taught to wear it for anything he gets on with wheels. Now he won’t even push a bike without asking for his helmet. We always take advantage of the helmet giveaways and safety.

    I however am against a law requiring it. I don’t think the government should be regulating common sense parenting and fining a parent by proxy for an action their child does away from them is silly. Yes my parents tole me to wear a helment, but as soon as I was out of eyesight it was gone.

  2. Day two of the skate park and I’m walking my one year granddaughter by the skate park… I saw a young man (about 13 -15 years old) pull out a pipe and attempt to lite what ever was in it when I yelled at him. He was with a group of about 10 kids and only about 10 feet from me. I said I was going to call the cops and he took off. Today my dad also took his usual walk through the park and mentioned he saw a young lady ditch something behind a rock yesterday and it was still there. He and I walked over there and behind a rock was a six pack of Angry Orchard, a bottle of water and “teen Deodorant.” I took it and got rid of it as young people are everywhere. I’m the first one to say that kids need a place, but after I saw county employees working on a Sunday cleaning up the huge mess of beer cans and general garbage, I’m getting over this support for the skate park real fast! Then there was the vandalizing of the bathrooms and the toilet papering of the trees which took the county extra time to clean up at time and a half. I sure hope this is not the trend for the skate park or more tax dollars should be spent to have a police officer there to babysit the kids and protect the public that is also using the public park. Helmets could be only part of our worry!

  3. Kim – I checked with the parks and sheriff’s department (see parks response below). Apparently the parks department planned for the cleanup. Sheriff’s office spokesman said he will get back to me later.

    Chris Henry, reporter

    From Jim Dunwiddie, parks and recreation department director


    There was garbage … about 3000 in attendance, but nothing that we hadn’t planned. Staff was on site to assist and keep with the items being discarded. Other than those scheduled Saturday at the park, it didn’t require anything extra.


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