Monday, July 16, 2007

Press Herald

July 11, 2007

Skateboarding law on the bubble

By Justin Ellis

It looks like the city of Portland is taking baby steps towards decriminalizing skateboarding. Last night the City Council’s Public Safety Committee unanimously voted to recommend changing the law that makes riding skateboards on downtown streets illegal.

The recommendation still must be voted on by the full City Council before it can go into effect. The council holds its regular meeting on Monday.

If it does become law, skateboarders would be subject to the same laws as bicyclists who use the roads.

Councilor David Marshall, chairman of the public safety committee, said the city has two conflicting ordinances on skateboarding. Under one ordinance skateboarding and skating are listed as sports ( "such as ball playing") that are not allowed to be played in city streets.In another ordinance skateboards, like bikes (and apparently sleds?), are allowed on streets if they follow the laws of the road:

"Every person riding a bicycle or skateboard, or rollerskating upon a roadway shall be granted all the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a motor vehicle by the laws of this state declaring rules of the road applicable to motor vehicles or by the traffic ordinances of this city applicable to the driver of a vehicle..."

Marshall said it was unrealistic for the city to think they could get skateboarders off the street with a law, and difficult for police who are busy with other issues.

Marshall said the new law would treat skateboarding just like any other form of transportation."Instead of saying no skateboarding at all, it’s saying you can skateboard but do it in a manner that is safe," Marshall said.

The issue was brought forward by Shane McGarvey, one of the owners of Cream Apparel, a sneaker shop on Market Street. McGarvey and his wife, co-owner Michelle McGarvey, have been frequent advocates for skateboarding and sponsors of skateboarding events. Police stopped McGarvey earlier this summer while he was skateboarding to work and issued him a citation.

Marshall said skateboarding has been getting a lot of attention this summer largely because of the absence of the skate park on Marginal Way.

"If it passes the council it will represent a win for skateboarders," Marshall said.
Posted by at 11:46 AM

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