Skaters say they are not aware of the rules of the road

B.C. Motor Vehicle Act says skateboarding isn't allowed on sidewalks and roads

A skater performs tricks at the Downtown skateboard park. Soubhik Chakrabarti photo.
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Reported by Soubhik Chakrabarti

A local skateboarder said he had no idea he was breaking the law when he was skateboarding on the sidewalks.

“Nobody ever said anything, [I] didn’t know that I can,“ skater Luiz Tavares said. He started skateboarding around five months ago and regularly skateboards on the streets on his way to the Downtown skateboard park.

Vancouver’s skateboarding parks may be a delight to those who love the sport, but the city’s strict rules aren’t well-known. B.C.’s Motor Vehicle Act treats motorized skateboards as ‘vehicles’ and as such, they cannot be used on roads and sidewalks. Non-motorized skateboards do not fare much better either, and can only be used on ‘minor streets’, or roads that do not have lane lines or directional dividing lines.

Tavares said that there are plenty of places to skateboard in the city.

Alexis Ola Zygan, who lives in North Vancouver, voiced a similar sentiment. “I had no idea that it was prohibited,” she said.  While she often skates on the streets, she did not have any issues while skating on sidewalks. However, she often avoids sidewalks as not to get in the way of pedestrians.

“If there is a bike lane, I will skate on the bike lane,” she said.

Given how obscure the laws are, Ola Zygan said ICBC could launch a campaign to remind drivers to watch out for skaters on the road, and not just bikers, other cars or pedestrians.

“I think the best way would be to allow skateboarders to share the bike path alongside bikers, just like they do on the Stanley Park Seawall,” she said.

Kate MacMillan, Co-Founder of Late Bloomers Skate Club in Vancouver talked about a thriving beginner skateboarding community in the city. She said  indoor skateboard spaces are a worry in the city, with the nearest one being in Tsawwassen. She also said she didn’t know there was an actual by-law too.

“I think it is because it is a safety thing,” said MacMillan.

 

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