Regulating skate boards on public roads

The in basket: An Olalla woman who wants to go by only H.B. writes to ask about the legal status of the many teenagers she has seen long-boarding on the public roads.

“Usually the teenagers are riding down the center of the lane (with or without helmets) and weaving to pick up speed.  Of particular concern to me is the fact that they are also riding down very steep hills, such as the one on Forsman Road.

She worries about one of them wiping out and falling into the path of her car, she said.

“I have no problem sharing the roads with bicycles and pedestrians (who have the ability to brake and stop), but this use seems particularly risky, especially considering the poor girl in Silverdale who recently had the brain injury due to a longboarding accident.  “Is this legal?” H.B asked. “If not, is there enforcement?”

The out basket: Deputy Scott Wilson, spokesman for the Kitsap County sheriff, says skateboarders are regarded as pedestrians and must comply with laws governing pedestrians.

That includes riding toward oncoming traffic, not in the same direction, and staying as close as manageable to the left side of their lane.

“Skateboarding on roadways has been a safety concern with cops for more than 40 years, going back to the 1963 record release of ‘Sidewalk Surfin’ ‘ by Jan & Dean.  With each generation the clarion call of the skateboard thrill beckons for many.”

He called H. B.’s concerns “not only valid, but validated many times over with critical and fatal injuries sustained by those using skateboards on roadways.

“Fortunately there are now skate parks established and in use in various areas around the county.  Unfortunately, many skateboarders still want the added thrill of the open road.

He quoted the state law’s definition of a pedestrian as “any person who is afoot or who is using a wheelchair, a power wheelchair, or a means of conveyance propelled by human power other than a bicycle.

“To break it down into its most basic components,” Scott said:

“Where sidewalks are provided it is unlawful for a pedestrian (skateboarder) to move along and upon a roadway.

“Where sidewalks are not provided a pedestrian (skateboarder) moving along and upon a roadway shall, when practicable, move only on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic approaching from the opposite direction.

“Those on skateboards must yield to pedestrians on foot.

“A violation of these (rules) could result in the issuance of a notice of infraction to the offender.

“(State law) and county code does not address the issue of safety helmets for those using skateboards.  However, I think that we all realize the necessity of this valuable piece of safety equipment,” Scott concluded.

4 thoughts on “Regulating skate boards on public roads

  1. Often I see a person (adult) riding a skateboard at the Shipyard gate at Park and Burwell. He speeds in and out of traffic (pedestrians and cars) narrowly missing both. I was almost hit my one on a dark and rainy morning traffic as he wheeled across Burwell to the gate. So, I’m guessing the law is not well advertised or enforced. Won’t be long until their luck runs out and they’re splattered all over a car, or another person.

  2. I have also seen pedestrians & cyclists acting like idiots, should we ban walking and vehicular traffic. Many longboarders use this as their primary means of transportation. Drivers and pedestrians are often injured or killed because either their lack of awareness or the “other guy’s” lack of awareness, public right of way calls for safe passage between private lands, if a longboarder can manage that without injuring another or killing themselves, great. At least they are not contributing to the disaster in the the Gulf coast like every person in a motorize vehicle is.

  3. Isn’t this what we want? The KRCC is currently advocating that 20% of all transportation funds go toward non-motorized forms of transportation. Rather than demonize skateboarders, we should trumpet them as pioneers of the new “green” way and push that more of our road funding goes to accommodate them.

  4. I’ve seen several CHILDREN (under 13 yrs old) skateboarding AND SKATING down John Carlson towards hwy 303. They have ditched their boards and jumped into the ditch a couple of times because they couldn’t stop. All they have to do to get injured is hit a rock or dirt on the road. Believe me, I tried to skateboard on my son’s once and hit some sand. It stopped me and I got two skinned knees from it. I worry about these children – one looks to be about 8 yrs old.

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