Charleston City Council bans skateboarding on many downtown streets

Published: Mar. 27, 2014 at 10:36 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 27, 2014 at 11:13 PM EDT
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This week, Charleston City Council passed new rules about how and where you can skateboard in the city. If a skateboarder breaks the ordinance, they could be dealt a $113 ticket.

Charleston Police Sgt. Heath King says this isn't about discouraging skateboarding in downtown Charleston, but that it's all about increasing safety.

Based off a pilot program used in the recent months, the ordinance bans skateboarders from riding on the streets, or sidewalks, of some of the busiest roadways in the downtown area.

Some of the big roadways included in the ban are Broad, King, Meeting, East Bay and Calhoun Streets.

"The skateboarders and the vehicle traffic competing for the roadway just doesn't make for a very good environment downtown," said King.

However, not everyone agrees. Avid skater and owner of Continuum Skateshop, Jack Abbott, says Charleston has a strong skateboarding scene. Abbott says beyond those rules possibly hampering the sport, it could also hurt efforts to decongest the busy downtown area. 

"I don't think it's positive to ban skateboarding anywhere," said Abbott, "It's a green, healthy and safe form of transportation, so it should be embraced and not banned in certain areas."

One spots Abbott says is highly popular for skateboarders is near the College of Charleston.

"A lot of college kids use skateboards for transportation its an easy way to get to class," said Abbott.

King says that's why they'll allow skaters on St. Phillip Street, to get to and from the college campus.

On roads where skateboarders are permitted, they should be treated just like a bicyclist. They're also now required to wear shoes and reflective clothing or lights, and use hand signals when they're turning or stopping. Abbott says while most of these are just common sense, educating local skateboarders may be their biggest hurdle.

"I think a lot of people just aren't exactly aware of which streets or where it's banned exactly, so that's part of the problem of getting that information out there," said Abbott.

King says that at the start of the school year in the fall, they're going to work on educating new College of Charleston students about the laws and will be giving out more warnings than citations. 

As of two weeks ago, under the city's pilot program for skateboarding regulations, police say they gave out 40 warnings and 60 citations.

Charleston Police are also working with city council to create a committee that will continue to review other issues surrounding safety and skateboarding, specifically how to regulate it at night.

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