Footpath Wars

Pedestrians have been battling skateboarders in their fight to rule public footpaths (particularly in the city). The clash has been ongoing since the skateboards invention in the 1950’s when “sidewalk surfers” curved up the streets of L.A. Skaters seem to be losing the battle as many councils outlaw the use of skateboards on busy city streets. Melbourne city councils are fairly tolerant of skateboarders on public footpaths. However some citizens aren’t as eager to share the footpath with skaters.

Id says that there is a negative stigma attached to skateboarding. Skaters are seen as hoodlums. A bunch of misled youths with nothing else to do, going around intimidating people. This is far from the truth. Most people that skate are well educated individuals that don’t intend to cause any harm. They are simply trying to skate and have fun. Because of the nature of the sport, fast and dangerous, people have a preconceived notion these people are reckless. I will admit that if a skater collides with a pedestrian then the skater will most likely be the first one to bounce back onto their feet. But the skater is not intentionally trying to mow people down. And one could argue that riding a bike on a busy foot path is just as dangerous as a riding a skateboard on the footpath. Riding a bike on the road is also dangerous for the rider. The solution to this was to create dedicated bike lanes by the side of the road. Not on every road, just along main routes. So, could the answer to the footpath wars between skateboards and pedestrians be solved with a dedicated skate lane, who knows? Seeing one on every roadside would be completely unfeasible and unnecessary. But what if there were designated pathways along KNOWN main skate routes. For example from flinders street station to the Riverside skate park. (Along Swanston St, across Princess bridge and down the south bank of the Yarra through the Alexandra Gardens). This could help with traffic flow of skaters and could potentially reduce accidents including collisions with pedestrians. However, even if there were designated pathways I doubt skaters would want to use them. They rarely follow instructions or obey signs, so it is unlikely they will want to follow the lines painted on the ground. There would need to be another way of enticing skaters to use these paths. Instead of banning skateboarding on footpaths all together, why not control it by encouraging it in one particular area or route. This encouragement may come in many forms…

Bike Lanes- Princess Bridge (Swanston st)

Bike Lanes- Princess Bridge (Swanston st)

Too Much?


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