Since the days of Tony Hawk and the Bones Brigade, skateboarding has taken the counter-culture, younger generations’ interests by force. The sport itself is so unsafe that it is legally considered a “hazardous recreational activity” and is thus regulated in many states and counties. The main concern regards the liability that landowners face if a skateboarder were to get injured on their property. Through these concerns, coupled with the activity of the skating community, skateparks were born. These are places where skateboarders are welcome to practice and express themselves, assuming they use safety gear, without having to worry about the legal obligations that they would have to abide by on the streets. Similarly, sports involving the extreme use of bicycles and scooters have become immensely popular. Professional scenes have sparked interest in viewers by being just as acrobatic as skateboarders.
This new generation of BMX and scooter riders are on the prowl for a place to practice their sport and express themselves, just like the early skateboarders. In many cases, the use of public obstacles such as stairways, ledges, handrails, and general street space is illegal. These sports, much to the same reasoning as skateboarding, either deface the property being used, or cause a danger to the user or the civilians in the immediate area. The main difference rests in the fact that unlike skateboarding, riding a bicycle or scooter is not legally considered a dangerous activity, and thus there is then no need to create a place where they can practice their sport.
Many skateparks were created by the active skateboarding community under the idea “by skateboarders for skateboarders”. Since there is a rooted distaste for BMX and scooter riders, it is easy to see why the laws were written in such a way that doesn’t include either sport. According to Josh Giddings, a skater quoted in The Orange County Register’s article “Can skaters, scooters coexist at skate park?” on his opinion of scooters in the local skatepark, ‘“They’re sketchy… They go in mass numbers. They make the park insanely crowded. There’s just so many of them because they’re so easy to ride”’. It’s beliefs such as these, that create a sense of hypocritical despise. Simply put, skaters don’t like bicycles and scooters for reasons no more trivial than the fact that they are easier to ride. Much of the skateboarding community argues that by being active in city planning, they created safe places to express themselves. However, they go even further to claim these locations as sole beneficiaries; discriminating against others who are viewed as a similar public nuisance. As explained in the Carlsbad, California municipal code 10.58.060, “It is unlawful for a person to ride anything other than a skateboard, roller skates, or inline skates in the city-owned skateboard park…”, it is clearly defined that the use of bicycles or scooters is illegal.
Though skateboarders view themselves as a discriminated subculture, they act hypocritically by behaving the same way against fellow members of similar communities. BMXing and scootering just as much of an art form and a crime as skateboarding, but they receive far less legal support when trying to express themselves. It’s a total shame to see one counter-culture legally discriminate another for trivial reasons. It would be awesome to see all members of each community have fun, regardless of what vehicle they ride.