Police back skateboard confiscation

Having the ability to confiscate skateboards in the inner city would be ''extremely useful'', Dunedin police say.

City councillors seem set to recommend that the power to confiscate boards from people riding in prohibited areas in the central city be added to a reviewed skateboarding bylaw.

The proposed changes to the existing bylaw also include expanding the prohibited skating area to include footpaths at Queens Gardens, Albion Pl and on the retail side of George St between Frederick and Albany. 

The skateboarding bylaw hearings subcommittee of Crs David Benson-Pope (chairman), Kate Wilson and Neville Peat reconvened yesterday to hear from police and Age Concern about the extent of the actual problems with skateboarding in Dunedin's CBD.

The committee had asked for their feedback before advancing the review further.

An informal survey of members revealed no actual incidences of injury from skateboarding but, ''perhaps not unexpectedly'', unanimous condemnation of skateboarders, Niall Shepherd, of Age Concern, said.

The main concerns of members, who mainly used the George St and Octagon area, were near misses, the fear of being hit by a skateboarder and intimidation.

Central Dunedin community constable Michael Gasson told the subcommittee in the four months he had been in the job he had issued eight warnings to people riding skateboards in the prohibited area.

His predecessor had issued 30 fines for the same in the previous financial year, and told him the issue was not constant or massive, but was a problem on and off throughout the year.

No actual physical contact had been reported, although he had heard anecdotally of a lot of near misses.

He had not seen huge problems with skateboarders so far and it was not the biggest problem police faced in the area, but shopkeepers he had spoken to about it, particularly in Albion Pl, thought it was a huge problem and said skateboarders riding on the street were an everyday issue for them.

Having the ability to confiscate skateboards, as was proposed, would be helpful to police, because legally they could not fine people aged under 14 at all and because others simply never paid fines, so it was not a deterrent.

He believed if people had their boards taken away groups might move on from problem locations.

Cr Wilson said she was concerned about discouraging commuter use of skateboards as a legitimate form of active transport, especially among younger children, and asked how he saw that working with the prohibition.

People could just pick up their boards and walk through prohibited areas, Const Gasson said.

Asked about mobility scooters causing problems, he had not noticed the same issue, perhaps because they moved at the same speed as pedestrians.

Cr Benson-Pope said having the police and Age Concern information made him more comfortable about the proposed changes, and he felt the proposed bylaw should proceed as it was because it would add a useful tool to the enforcers' ''quiver''.

Cr Wilson still wondered if the bylaw was the most fair the subcommittee could come up with, and had some concerns about mobility scooters, although she was advised by staff those concerns could be addressed in a proposed use of public places policy.

She would prefer a 10kmh speed limit for skateboarders in the CBD, Cr Wilson said, but Cr Benson-Pope said that would be ''totally impractical'' and unnecessarily complex.

Cr Peat agreed.

The subcommittee adjourned again for some technical and formatting details to be resolved before signing off on the changes for approval by the full council.



No skateboarding

• The area within Moray Pl, including the Octagon and Library Plaza.

• George St, from Frederick St to Moray Pl, Stuart St, from and including the Railway Station and Anzac Square, to Moray Pl.

• Princes St, from Water St to Moray Pl.

• Queens Gardens, including Cenotaph and nearby garden areas.

• Wickliffe Square (Exchange area).

• St Clair Esplanade.

• Dunedin Botanic Garden.

Source: DCC


Skateboarding in public places

Skinhat suggests letting kids skateboard in Wickliffe Square, as it "might add some life to the area" and that's not a bad idea. Perhaps that is not the best place, I do not know if there are vulnerable surfaces and structures that would be damaged, but the basic idea is great. Skateboarders are amazing to watch, even the learners are interesting.   

Recently I watched three boys working on a move, in a place where I am sure they should not have been according to the DCC.  They all failed most of the time but on and on they went, persisting and learning from one another.  It puzzled me how they flicked the board as part of the move and in the end I interrupted and asked them.  They were nice friendly young people learning a skill without harming anyone and in the process providing me with free entertainment - and education.  I wish I were young and brave enough to try it myself! 

There must be spaces around town that could be "skateboard-OK" even if temporarily.  They don't have to be fully equipped skateboard parks like the one down behind the railway station.  The area these 3 boys were practising on was about the size of one parking space and didn't even have steps. 

Skateboarding in Wickliffe Square

Maybe they should let kids skate in the Wickliffe Square (area near old exchange) as it is pretty dead nowadays. Having kids skateboard around there might add some life to the area.

What do we have now?

In response I would ask: what do we have now? Skateboarders who have a legal requirement to ride on the road and will tell you in no uncertain terms that they are allowed to. No compulsory helmets, training, lighting, insurance, rego, WOF. This is law-making in the 2000'. Just get off the footpath.They should be compelled to ride in the cycle lane, just as other non contributing road users are. There are practical ways to stop skateboarders from being able to use a public space as if it were a skate park. I don't believe that more legislation will have an effect on them - it will further waste police time. 

Doom and gloom brigade

Oh please! Discrimination at its worst. Give the police powers to confiscate one's mode of transport, because they are travelling on a public road!

The meanspiritedness that exists within governance bodies in this town are so uncommunity, or is it that because you can't do it no one else should be allowed to. What is this pervading smell in the halls of rules and regulations?

Transports of delight

Boy Racers' cars are confiscatable. Here are more transports for Anne Tolley to stomp on: skateboards, Ezy RiderTM mobility scooters, foldaway scooters, electric wheelchairs, errant cycles, knight errant horses, segue, segue, conveyor belts, escalators, de escalators..

Don't forget to include errant cyclists

Why have cyclists who ride on the foot path not been included in this dragnet, especially when a cycle lane is present?

Improvement of the gene pool

In response to styli1 I can say that I have seen on Union St East between Clyde and Forth Streets, a male skateboarder slaloming down the centre of the road at high speed carrying a dinner plate of food which he was eating with a fork, causing oncoming and following traffic to take evasive action, a skateboarder sitting on his board riding from Roslyn to the Octagon down Stuart Street while in the middle of the dual carriageway while being so low in profile to be almost invisible to other road users.   While, according the Darwin theory, it may be that the gene pool would be improved if these people were no longer able to contribute to it, it would be devastating to those that ended up hitting them.  Or does styli1 prefer to have a system of anarchy on the roads?

Imagination city

Imagine if you where skateboarding and eating a pie whilst leading your dog! Oh the Humanity! Call the Police! What was he thinking! Health and Safety alert! Call in team America! Another great waste of money to alienate our youth. I propose mobility scooters and wheelchairs be the next thing we outlaw here in Dawson city. Grow up and get a life.

Where's the problem?

Sometimes I really wonder at the focus of our Dunedin City Council. With all the major issues and challenges they are facing they have decided to focus on . . . . skateboarding. After two days of public hearings (attended by four groups I understand) the staff are recommending that the current by-law be strengthened to allow "recreational vehicles" to be confiscated and the owner fined $100 if caught riding their scooter or skateboard in the central city area, the Gardens or St Clair.

This draconian action is being taken on "health and safety" grounds, despite their being absolutely no evidence of any injuries ever occurring. Council staff could not give one example of an actual health and safety issue. Two submitters spoke strongly against the changes to the bylaw. The Police confirmed that there is no issue and Age Concern's member say that while nothing has ever happened, they just don't like skateboarders.

At the hearing Cr Benson-Pope agreed that the Council's own poorly maintained footpaths and their policy of renting footpath space to businesses for signs and tables do cause frequent accidents and personal injury. But despite this lack of any evidence of a real problem, the Councillors are recommending the by-law be changed.

If approved by full Council, students using skateboards to commute to University and kids riding their scooters at the Gardens or St Clair will have their equipment confiscated and be fined $100. Is this really the Dunedin we want and is this quality of decision making we expected of our councillors when we voted for them.

Perhaps the councillors would do better to focus on hot pies in Dunedin, which are causing real injuries in the city according to ACC stats. I can feel a by-law in the works already.

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