Monday, August 13, 2007

Skateboarders: Treat or Threat?

Readers of The News Tribune might be scratching their heads over coverage of skateboarding over the past two days--is skateboarding the latest urban past time or a magnet for crime? It would seem there is evidence for either opinion in recent pages of the paper. The confusion mirrors that of the BIA's ratepayers.

Sunday's coverage examining skateboard parks and the sport in general across Pierce County's urban areas concluded that:

...there’s no question that skate parks in general are a good thing. Earlier generations built ball fields; the parks are their modern equivalent for quirky but highly skilled athletes who are never going to join the high school tennis team.

Monday's feature article about ongoing problems with Sumner's skate park seemed to paint a different picture. That particular skate park is a magnet for fighting, drug use and late-night noise, according to neighbors.

So are skateboarders athletes or thugs on wheels? Discounting the fighting, drug use, and other disorder often associated with skateboards as problems not caused by the regulars themselves but by others who show up after sundown really skirts the issue. Proper design, incorporating Community Policing Through Urban Design (CPTED), is a critical element, but so is some self-policing by those who ride the boards.

Will the responsible skateboarders please stand up?


  1. Reading that article, I thought it actually didn't support the alarmist headlines it sported. The author mentioned that crime stats are no higher for skate parks than for other city parks. So I really do not see an issue.

    We've spent just about every day this summer out and about in Tacoma's streets and parks and have never once encountered a problem with a skateboarder. Yet, to hear some talk, around every corner there's a troublesome youth just looking to cut you off at the knees with their board.

  2. The TNT articles seemed pretty fair and was realistic with the problems of skakebaord parks. A google search of "crime and skakeboard park" comes up with a great many hits.

    The fact is that many skateboard parks are very troubled.

    Is there a way to construct and monitor them so they don't get out of control like Sumners?

    Perhaps. However, it has to be in the right location with tremendous amount of monitoring in the area.

    How about by one of the police substations? To be successful, it would likely need alot of pre-approved funds for maintenance and supervision.

  3. A former skateboarder myself from back in the day, we have always been looked down upon. More crime, drugs? Please!! The comments on this blog and in the paper are exaggerated. Look at taggers, drug dealers up on S. 11th or something else. But skateboarders do not cause that much problem in Tacoma. Never have, and they still dont!

  4. Anonymous10:43 AM

    Responsible skateboarder? ME! I've been skating for 10 years. The only legal problems skating poses are vandalism through grinding and liability (maybe trespassing?). As far as drugs and crime go, those are really based on the individual or some communities. It's also probably part of a media stereotype to keep a bias against skateboarding, lest the corporate giants of traditional sports lose money. Skateboarding has probably been one of the most benign and beneficial activities to affect us in modern times and its positives aren't often reported on - it's an emotional outlet, you hardly see skateboarders who aren't in shape, it creates a meaningful social group, it promotes creativity and independent thinking, can be contemplative, boosts cognitive abilities in schooling (according to a study I saw somewhere), etc. As long as we encourage skateboarders to express themselves positively, skating will be of benefit to everyone.