Canal Park merchants want skateboard ban
Amazing Grace Caf? owner Marcie Stoyke and manager Stephanie Dykema have seen one too many collisions near their restaurant. "It could be a kid or an older person walking across and getting hit by a skateboarder," Dykema said. "There are just a l...
Amazing Grace Café owner Marcie Stoyke and manager Stephanie Dykema have seen one too many collisions near their restaurant.
"It could be a kid or an older person walking across and getting hit by a skateboarder," Dykema said.
"There are just a lot of inexperienced skateboarders," Stoyke said, and younger kids who appear to have little regard for others' safety.
It's why the two are part of a large group calling for a total ban of skateboarding in Canal Park, saying skateboarders have become too much of a danger for pedestrians in the area.
About 20 members of the Canal Park Business Association unanimously approved sending the proposal to the City Council during a meeting last month, said association president Tony Boen. They said they still want to see skateboarding on the Lakewalk, but as soon as skaters hit the business district, they would have to walk with their boards.
For several years business leaders in the district have had concerns about the skateboarding, Boen said.
"Unfortunately there are riders who do the right thing," he said. "But it's the trick riding, that's the problem."
Those riders often lose control of their boards, sending them careening into walkers and cars, Boen said. So why not just ban the trick riders?
"It'd be tough to enforce," he said. "All of the riders have cell phones. When they see a police officer coming, they call each other and their skateboards go up in their hands."
It's illegal to ride skateboards in Canal Park from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. But few of the skaters interviewed Wednesday said they were aware of the law.
"I've honestly never had anyone tell me that I can't skate down here," said Jake Slette, 19, who was skating Wednesday afternoon in Canal Park.
Slette and his friends say they're respectful and courteous of pedestrians, and if business owners told them to go skate somewhere else, they would.
"The frame of mind [of people who want to ban skateboarders] is that skateboarders are evil," said Victor Cody, 23. "But we're just as nice as any other person."
John Schneider, 28, often rides his skateboard to work at Amazing Grace and said he understands the concerns business owners have. But he also believes a full ban is the wrong way to go and inappropriately punishes people obeying the law.
"Make it so you can skate from A to B, but the moment your wheels leave the ground, you're in violation," he said.
A full ban would need sponsorship by a city councilor and council approval. So far, Councilor Jeff Anderson has been most supportive of the Business Association's efforts, Boen said, but Anderson could not be reached for comment Wednesday.