Helmet requirements at the skatepark are not the only problematic rule. Any rule that is difficult to define and enforce will lead to misinterpretation and inconsistent enforcement.
Encouraging civil etiquette is a noble pursuit but it doesn’t belong in park policy. There is a tendency in skatepark rules, much more than with other park attractions, to introduce behavioral rules meant to create “good citizens.” These instructions are often introduced by people that presume skateboarders are intentionally unruly. These rules rarely, if ever, accomplish their lofty goals. Skateboarders are no more or less likely to need rules governing their behavior than those that play tennis, basketball, or chess.
Rules should apply to all park patrons. For example, if there is a rule prohibiting smoking in the skatepark, smoking should also be prohibited in the tennis court. In other words, there should be no “exceptional” rule for the skatepark that doesn’t exist in the other park attractions.
Behavioral rules are often unenforceable. A good example is the sign that reminds park patrons, “This is YOUR skatepark, keep it clean!” The subtext is clear even to the youngest skaters; the Parks Department feels that skateboarders need to be told that the skatepark is theirs and need to be reminded to keep it clean. Rules like this are demeaning to the skateboarding community and do little to produce a cleaner park.
What everyone really wants is an active, social place where people can come together to have fun. The skaters will need no encouragement to make the place a positive, healthy environment…provided they are afforded respect and an opportunity to participate in the skatepark’s development.
Creating rules that reduce the skatepark’s positive impact are easy to avoid. The skatepark should not require any special rules that would seem unreasonable at similar athletic facilities.