A response to downtown Charleston's proposed skateboarding ban

Image by Flickr user hannesseibt

Update April 30: The Post and Courier reported this weekend that if some Charleston City Council members get their way, a 20-block area from Line Street to Broad Street could soon become a "no skateboarding" zone.

A wonderful response to this proposed ban has been sent to us by Robert Prioleau, a partner and Strategy Director at Blue Ion. It is addressed to City Councilman Mike Seekings, a major proponent of the ban. Read it below:

Councilman Seekings,

I don't think we have met but my name is Robert Prioleau. I live downtown on Wentworth Street, own a business on King/Liberty and have a daughter in 3rd grade downtown.

I was stunned to read in the Post and Courier this morning that you are pushing for a ban of skateboards downtown. This stuns me...but maybe it shouldn't given our seemingly endless lack of imagination in transportation planning.

As a comparison, just this week there was an article in the Citizen Times about how Asheville, NC may be taking the opposite approach...allowing skateboards the same rights as bicyclists. Here's the article:

http://www.citizen-times.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2012304260014

As I mentioned I'm a business owner in downtown Charleston, and some days I skateboard on a longboard to commute. I also skateboard with my 8 year old daughter on weekends.

The fact that our City Council would consider banning skateboarding is an embarrassment, much less a misguided policy that works against alternative transportation and a healthier community.

I plan to contact others in the community to address this misguided policy and your action. I'm willing to discuss but I truly feel that your approach is fundamentally wrong.

Best, Robert

Note that Robert refers to working against a healthier community.

Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr., committee Co-Chairmen Dr. Marcus Newberry and Dr. Patrick O’Neil and members of the community steering committee recently challenged the Charleston community to lose a combined 100,000 pounds in an effort to fight obesity.

The mission of the new wellness initiative, called Lighten Up Charleston, is simple: to reduce obesity by promoting healthy eating and physical activity. Seekings' skateboard ban would work directly against an initiative supported and promoted by the Mayor himself.

First reporting: It's been several months since Charleston vowed to up its bicycle rules enforcement, and now our city is turning its attention to skateboarding.

If you didn't know, city rules forbid skateboarding on roads where the speed limit is above 25 MPH and also much of the downtown Charleston areas where the limit is below 25 MPH but in a commercial or school zone (read: College of Charleston and much of the surrounding area).

The Post and Courier has a report on the pledged increase in enforcement; read it here.

Of course debate surrounds this one, but it will be interesting to see if the local skateboarders using city streets can put on as organized of a front as the local bike community did when a restrictive change was proposed.

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