Skateboard ban 'way over the top'

Keo Morrison (4) rolls along the St Clair Esplanade on his skateboard with other local surfers and skateboarders looking on. Photo by Dan Hutchinson.
Keo Morrison (4) rolls along the St Clair Esplanade on his skateboard with other local surfers and skateboarders looking on. Photo by Dan Hutchinson.

A long tradition of skateboarding at St Clair Esplanade is about to get a final nail in the coffin from the Dunedin City Council. Star reporter Dan Hutchinson talks to local board riders of all ages and finds a growing dismay at the loss of an important part of their culture.

Surfers and skateboarders say a skateboarding bylaw at St Clair Esplanade is ''way over the top'' and are staking a claim for their right to roll up and check out the waves.

Skateboarding along the Esplanade has been targeted by various Dunedin City Council bylaws since the early 1990s. It was banned in 2005.

The latest proposed change to the bylaw would mean children under 14 years old could have their board confiscated, and pay $50 to get it back. Previously, they faced no penalty because they were too young.

President of the South Coast Boardriders Club, which has its headquarters at the Esplanade, Craig Higgins said he had not noticed large groups of skateboarders there since he was a teenager in 1994 or 1995, when skateboard ramps were banned.

''I have always found that the skateboard culture is part of the surf culture. You are just rolling down there, getting a little bit of practice to warm your legs up, or to go check out the waves.''

Mayor Dave Cull said the latest bylaw still had to come before the council on August 18 and it was ''definitely not in place yet''.

He said there was still a possibility the St Clair ban could even be relaxed but that was a decision for the council.

He had responded to a letter from the group opposing the ban, saying they should make their views known at the public forum before the council meeting.

''It may be that council looks at it and says we won't apply it at St Clair but it is still valid somewhere else. Anything is possible in that regard. It is definitely not in place yet.''

Mr Higgins said skateboards were no different from being on a bike or scooter or any other form of transport and it made more sense to ban cars from the part of the Esplanade where there were no car parks.

St Clair surfer Richard Wingham said he and his children skateboard down ''every day to check out the surf''.

''It is our main form of transport. It is part of the healthy life for our kids that we want.''

He said other cities embraced skateboarding along the beachfront, such as at Tamaki Dr in Auckland where ''everyone is moving around on skates and it is a happening part of town''.

Mr Cull said the changes to the laws were to allow police to deal with problem skateboarders in the central city, where there were also banned areas.

Sustainable transport, healthy exercise

"Yes folks, lets ban skateboards!" Stevesone57 exclaims sarcastically. And why not ban them. If people want to get healthy exercise and fight obesity they should cycle, not use skateboards. If they want to travel without using fossil fuels - the cycle lanes are provided so they could cycle, there is no excuse for using skateboards! If people want to enjoy themselves and can manage not to make pests of themselves in the process for goodness sake let them get on with it.

How about banning the banning for a while and concentrating on encouraging, and if that doesn't work enforcing courteous behaviour? Try harder, Council. Frame a Courtesy Bylaw, based on the need for respectful sharing of the city: its roads and footpaths, parks, air (for breathing, and the noises carried through it) and beaches. Assume that people should be allowed to do whatever they like, as long as they do not trample on other people's rights to the same quality of enjoyment. Fair give and take has to be part of the rule. How would that run in the District Plan, I wonder?

Is this all they can offer?

A Council mired in record debt, no economic growth and the second worst ratepayer debt per head behind Auckland. What is their response to all this other than borrowing yet more money? Yes folks, lets ban skateboards!

I am not a skateboarder and never will be but this is just another example of a Council which is more concerned with trivia than the financial mess we are in. Pity Mayor Cull is not as passionate about fixing the city's financial woes as he is about becoming the head of the fun police.

Put dogs on skateboards

Old timers may recall the white mice travelling show of '62. Here, mice swung on the trapeze and rode Tonka™ toys. They were rotten! Their human wranglers, that is. Put dogs on skateboards and let them go. Crowds will gather, Leigh Hart will film it.

This ban is not just over

This ban is not just over the top, it is disgusting. Where you have urban areas you have kids rolling around on wheel based devices. It's just a part of life and should be viewed as a positive thing like it is in other cities, rather than negative. And yes skateboarding is cultural thing that is synonymous with surf culture and ubiquitous in towns, citys and esplanades everywhere. As one who was fortunate to freely skateboard and surf with all the other kids in St Clair in the 80's, let the next generations also have that freedom. Don't let Dunedin become this anti-fun like police state. Kids roll on wheels. Get over it, maybe to those concerned about the.. danger?? - (Sorry but I don't actually understand if danger is the cause for the ban, show me the stats.) Instead please focus on the real avoidable danger out there that is your atrocious Dunedin driving habits.

Agreed

Way over the top.

If the rules just apply to the centre of the city then just legislate for the centre of the city but honestly the attitude in this town towards skateboarders is outrageous.

One more nail in the coffin to end the vibrancy of Dunedin.

Leave the skateboards - ban the dogs

Let the kids skateboard, they don't do any harm.

But please start enforcing the dog ban as I am fed up with dog owners let their dogs loose and fouling the footbaths in the area.

Then you get the 'oh-but-I-live-here' folk that don't care!

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