Columbia, MO, city council allows skating, skateboarding on city streets

After a long and comprehensive community process, the Columbia City Council recently approved a law that legalizes skating, skateboarding, and similar activities on city streets.

According to a Columbia Missourian article, Christopher Bailey, owner of Parkside Skateshop and executive director of the COMO Skateboard Commission said, "Columbia's regulation on skaters in Ordinance 14-5 is inconsistent with the kind of healthy and active community we strive to be. Skateboarding is not only a sport but a growing trend of transportation in recent years."

In-line skating on a city street in Bejing
In-line skating on a city street in Bejing

The Missourian article adds:

At Monday's City Council meeting, council members unanimously passed an amendment allowing skateboards, roller skates and similar transportation devices on roads within the business district. The change takes effect immediately.

Previously, city ordinance limited the use of skateboards and roller skates to local, or residential, streets. Now they will be prohibited only from using downtown sidewalks and public parking lots and garages. 

Riders will have the same rights and responsibilities as bicyclists. They must yield to pedestrians and travel at a reasonable speed, according to the ordinance's new language. 

The ordinance lists out several regulations: Skaters must stay on the right side of the road and wear helmets, reflective clothing and a front-facing lamp between sunset and sunrise.  .  .  .

[Bailey] pointed out that many communities have overlooked skateboarding as one of the practical solutions to problems such as child obesity, rising gas prices, traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.

The Columbia City Council's Minutes for the meeting summarize Bailey's testimony:

In 2006, Columbia was selected to participate in the federal non-motorized transportation pilot program and accepted $22 million to help build infrastructure and establish the public awareness and  willingness to use active modes of transport.  He felt the term “active modes  of transport” should encompass and encourage different types of self-propelled vehicles, and that Columbia’s regulations of its skaters were inconsistent with a healthy, active community.  The confiscation, confinement and apprehension of citizens for skating on the street  were inefficient uses of law enforcement personnel and resources and in the direct contrast with the promotion of active modes of transport.  

Skateboarding in terms of transportation was practical as it provided the same health, environmental and fiscal benefits of bicycling while being more compact and lighter than bicycles and was a faster mode of transportation than walking.  

Approval of this ordinance would promote the use of active forms of transportation to Columbia citizens at no additional costs to taxpayers.  It would also make it safer for skaters and pedestrians because skaters would be more visible to faster moving traffic and pedestrians would be provided the right-of-way as skaters would be required to yield to pedestrians.  

He listed other communities that allowed skaters to utilize city streets like bicyclists and asked the Council to approve this ordinance in recognition of skateboarding as an efficient, environmentally friendly, active mode of transportation.

[paragraphing added]  

When I took the Alliance for Biking and Walking Winning Campaigns Training in San Francisco in 2005, I met David Miles, founder of the California Outdoor Rollersports Association.  His campaign was to legalize in-line skating for transportation in cities across the state.  He described skating for transportation as a growing trend and something that a surprisingly large and growing number of people were interested in.

That was news to me--my only experience with skateboarding for transportation was one time I was about ten years old and rode my skateboard home from a piano lesson.  It was about three miles and downhill nearly every inch (which is what had made it seem like such a great idea to 10-year-old me in the first place--just stand on the old skateboard and COAST all the way home . . . genius!) .  

The result was, I completely wore out the right toe of a brand-new pair of tennis shoes (well, actually more the entire front 1/3 of the shoe--top, bottom, and sides) drag-braking the whole way home.

That was my first and last foray into skateboarding for transportation, so I might not be the best judge of the matter.  What do you think?  Skating and skateboarding legalized as transportation in Missouri?

Photo credit: \!/_PeacePlusOne on FlickR, CC BY-NC 2.0 license