Friday, June 22, 2007

Kids' Right to Skateboard?

First, let me say that I'm sorry I wasn't able to write anything yesterday. My day started off with a bang and it was nonstop. However, all is well and I am able to begin a new discussion today. Thanks for stopping by, as you always do. I'm glad that you are interested in my views, as I am interested in YOURS.


There isn't much talk about kids' rights. Why? Well, kids are still legally... kids. And they don't have any purchasing power. Sure, they will someday - but by then, most of them forget what it's like to be a kid! And, this is NOW.

Parents can intervene on their kids' behalf, but parents are usually busy and drained, and if a kid's rights are only slightly impacted Mom usually tells him to suck it up (when she'd be wailing if it had happened to her).

There aren't many champions for kids' rights, except for those basic rights to which we are all guaranteed. At one time children were often regarded more as "property" of the parents: After all, the parents ultimately bear the responsibility, call the shots, and rule the roost. Women were treated much the same way until the mid 1900s. However, as we began to realize that society needed to step in in certain situations (such as abuse), the concept of kids' rights developed.

And it gets sticky: Kids' rights can't usually trump parental rights, or there will be complete chaos. After all, kids don't always have the best judgement, and studies show the brain isn't fully developed until age 25.*

So unless someone is quirky or immature, they usually stay away from kids' rights issues.

Call me quirky.

There is a law in Tampa which says that no kid can skateboard in the downtown business district. If a kid is caught skateboarding he can be arrested, fined, and his skateboard will be taken away.

Arrested for merely riding a source of transportation in the wrong location with your property confiscated?! Imagine if this were a rule for adults who rode bicycles: How many adults would allow such a law to stand? Such draconian measures are strong, indeed!

This law is, in actuality, unconstitutional - but no one has challenged it. The City of Tampa has NO right to restict someone's choice of transportation.

I understand where the adults are coming from. They don't want kids to ollie down the steps of the courthouse, or ride the rails in the park: Such activities damage public property and/or add confusion and distractions that we can't afford to have. But if the goal is to protect public property and keep the peace, then they need to pass a law specifically banning those actions - not pass a law banning skateboards all together!

Look at it this way: City Council gets together and decides there are too many car accidents. Why, cars can careen off bridges, smash up buildings, and can even run into lightpoles and short out an entire neighborhood! WELL, we can't have THAT, can we? OK then, they decide: Let's ban all cars!

Yesterday kids in Tampa celebrated National Skateboarding Day. It was a peaceful protest as scores of them filed down the streets of downtown Tampa, carrying their skateboards. Some were (wrongly) defiant, and two were arrested for that. But overall they showed themselves to be well-behaved.

Will this be enough to make Tampa's City Council stand up and take notice? Let's hope so. They need to rethink this mistaken law.

*By age 25, the human brain has finally developed the portion that is responsible for decision-making.


United We Lay said...

Good for them! I don't see skateboarding as that much different from riding a bike, and it's great that these kids are taking an active role in politics so early. Maybe it'll be easier for them to stand up for what they believe in as adults.

Saur♥Kraut said...

UWL, I hope so! Ultimately, it's NOT any different than riding a bike. And, just as you can do tricks on a bike, you can do tricks on a skateboard! So why aren't BIKES banned?!

Hans said...

Skateboarders don't bother me as long as they respect the rights of other people on sidewalks and parking lots. I would like to see them land a trick once in a while. They seem to practice and practice and practice but never make a jump stick.

Paul said...

"The City of Tampa has NO right to restict(sic) someone's choice of transportation."

Hmmm. What about helmet laws? For both bicyclists and motorcyclists? I can't ride a two-wheeled machine without one. Restrictive? You bet. (That law was not made for safety's sake, by the way. It was made for Bell Helmet's money belts. Think about it.)

Bike lanes? No motorized vehicles in a bike lane? Restrictive?

No motorized vehicles on a city park walking trail? Restrictive.

No skateboards and the like on library grounds? Or in the library for that matter. Shoot, you don't let me transport myself at all, mama!

And then there's those new shoes with wheels in the heels. Hoo-eee, the House of Lords is gonna have a hay day with that, eh?

Saur, I think this post needs a little more thought behind it. Otherwise, you're pretty cool.

Hans said...

You can ride a bike or a motorcycle in Florida without a helmet. There are some stipulations for motorcycles like carrying the proper endorsement and some insurance to defray some the cost to the taxpayers when you wack your head on a curb.

I ride as my primary method of transportation and can't understand why they don't allow lane splitting in Florida.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Hans, thanks for chiming in. I agree.

Paul, As you know, I wrote "The City of Tampa has NO right to restict someone's choice of transportation." I DIDN'T say that they couldn't place certain restrictions on whatever transportation someone chooses. For instance, as I said, we would restrict them from doing ollies down the courthouse steps or riding the rails in the park. BUT, they should be allowed to choose to skateboard as a means of transportation.

The Lazy Iguana said...

There is no right to skateboard written anywhere. Nor is there a right to drive.

Banning skateboards in a business district is not an infringement of anybodys rights. The kids can simply skate somewhere else. And if the city wants to ban all skateboards? Kids can walk, ride a bus, ride a bike, or whatever. Transportation "rights" are not effected.

Skateboards are banned for a number of reasons. There are the reasons you mentioned. And then what about the rights of people who work in the business district to NOT have some kid on a skateboard fly into them? And who foots the bill when someone gets hurt?

By the way, the no skateboards law applies to adults as well. The signs probably do not say "No skateboards unless you are over 18 or 21 years old".

Here in Miami, there are a few places where fruit boots (in line skates) are banned. Not because of kids using them by the way. Why? People were getting hit by others going faster than most people can run. And so on. So they banned the skates. And boards.

AQ said...

I'm with Lazy.

And the "Skaters" hardly use their boards for transporation, it is usually for tricks.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Lazy Iguana, excellent points. But even though (as you rightly point out) it's not simply kids that are banned from skateboarding, it is targeted at kids since skateboards are not usually the choice of transportation for adults. And that seems to be highly unfair. After all, the same inconveniences you mention for skateboarding would and could be the same inconveniences that could arise from bicycling. However, more adults bicycle than skateboard (though I know one adult who would probably prefer to get around downtown Tampa with a skateboard than a bike, any day).

As for your saying that there is no guaranteed right of transportation: There is no right to drive a CAR without passing a test, but the same doesn't apply to skateboards, rollerskates and bikes. They are ridden around by anyone who chooses to - thus they are transportation for the masses.

And although there is no WRITTEN right to transportation, the intent is there. In a city there is a need to get from point A to point B - walking is not an option. So, a form of transportation MUST be employed.

As for banning the "fruit boots" (cute name, by the way!), I'll bet they're not banned in the CITY, but on individual properties privately owned. I can understand if someone doesn't want the liability. But when the CITY bans something, they're representative of (and really owned by) the people. What right do they have to restrict a certain group?

Simply put, they're getting away with this because it primarily involves children. AND, it is also very extreme to take their property (the skateboard) in response to the violation. Let's not forget that no adult would stand for such a thing.

Saur♥Kraut said...

AQ, see my comment to Lazy. ;o)

The Lazy Iguana said...

Fruit Boots were banned by the city of Miami, Miami Beach, and some others. In some areas. On a bike path they are fine. Just not on a boardwalk (where bikes are banned too by the way).

Go to South Beach and you will find out why I call em fruit boots.

Jet skis are also banned in some waterways. For the same reasons skateboards are banned in so many downtown areas.

Herr Krokodil said...


The problem is that kids that skateboard are bad kids. I don't want bad kids around me.

Excellent post.