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Skatepark Policy Review

Poor Skatepark SignA skatepark in a major American city has a rules sign that reads, “Have Fun, Don’t Be A Jerk.” While unenforceable, the simple instruction encapsulates the community’s desires succinctly. In the end, this is really what it’s all about.

“Skate At Your Own Risk” tops the list of desirable skatepark rules due to its clarity and message.

Park hours, and other standardized policies, are welcome (and often mandated by law). These likely include things like, “no glass containers,” “no motorized vehicles,” and a contact number.

The skatepark sign featured in the photo above reveals some fundamental flaws that are worth critiquing.

• City code requires that all skateboard riders and skaters wear helmets, elbow pads, and kneepads while riding at the facility. While this rule doesn’t seem ambiguous, but the style and scale of terrain doesn’t warrant knee and elbow pads. In fact, the discomfort of wearing full joint protection will discourage people from visiting this facility. The sign states that anyone not in compliance will receive a citation.

• The second rule states that the City is not responsible for any injuries occurring at the skatepark. It begs the question: If the City requires helmets, don’t they have a duty to enforce it? If they do not enforce it and someone gets hurt, isn’t the City liable? (A better direction would be to simply not require helmets and full joint protection.

• No bicycles are allowed at the skatepark. There is no mention of scooters. If this photo is any indication of its popularity, what is the risk of allowing bikes?

• No alcohol permitted within the park. This policy should be covered by city-wide park policy and probably doesn’t need to be repeated here any more than it would need to be repeated at the tennis courts or soccer fields.

• Place trash in garbage cans provided. This is a preposterous rule. Those that are inclined to litter will do so whether or not there is a rule posted on a sign. Those that are not inclined to litter do not need a rule. The net result is that the rules, by association, seem pandering to the point of insult.

• Be a good neighbor to the surrounding area by keeping the skatepark clean and avoiding excessive noise or music. Again, it’s not the duty of the rules to teach (much less enforce) good neighbor behavior. It simply introduces unenforceable language into a sign that should be simple and to the point.

• Please skate safely and responsibly. Good advice, but unnecessary.

This sign should simply state the hours of the park and “skate at your own risk.” If it’s absolutely necessary to require helmets, it can simply say “helmets required.”