Is Skateboarding a Crime? • Brooklyn paper
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The BAM film series on skateboarding culture takes its name from a laptop sticker slogan: “Skateboarding is not a crime.”
But is it true?
As most people know, skateboarders certainly spend enough time dealing with cops. And while skateboarding on a New York sidewalk is not a crime, “reckless skating” is punishable by tickets of 50, thanks to a law passed by Mayor Guiliani in 1996 that defines recklessness as “a threat to the health or property of another person” $ or $ 100. According to Manhattan’s Uptown Skate School, the law has not been fully enforced since its publication. The code also requires that skaters under the age of 14 wear safety gear.
Most strikes, however, take place elsewhere. Skate lovers love certain skate parks and, for so-called street skating, “skate spots” or architectural features that are suitable for tricks. The most mundane piece of urban infrastructure can turn into a skate spot: a planter in a city park, a cellar door outside a bodega, a brownstone front staircase, and even the inside of an abandoned warehouse are all fair game.
When it comes to street skating, skaters are the most likely to break authority, if not the law. When young people gather outside of a business or residence, make a racket and not spend money, someone needs to be offended. Security guards usually scare off skaters in such cases, but if the 4x4s are still behind a schoolyard fence or in a commercial parking lot when the police arrive, there may be a violation fee. If skaters shrink in a city park that has “No Skateboarding” signs posted, they could be at the end of a $ 50 ticket.
Skater haters often complain that skateboarders destroy valuable surfaces with their grinds and slides (a Windsor Terrace Thrasher Basher goes so far as to pour syrup on ledges that skaters like). But the effect of grinding skateboards on hard edges is incremental and since a young hothead does not throw his board angrily through a window for failing to land a trick, arrests of property damage while skateboarding are rare.
And as for wood and concrete skate spots built in remote corners of the city, such as the do-it-yourself skate complex under the Brooklyn Queens Expressway on Graham Avenue in Williamsburg, the Department of Transportation occasionally rips from the handcrafted ramps, but Nachtbauer have always bounced back and cops seem to look the other way.
There are also sanctioned skate parks in the community, like the elaborate concrete bowls at Owl’s Head Park on Bay Ridge. But with the city’s approval, the city rules come. Helmets, pads and a signed waiver are technically required to gain access to all of the city’s skate parks. However, visits will reveal that enforcement ranges from lax to nonexistent. The possibility remains that a cop might show up in a park full of unprotected skate rats and issue each of them with $ 50 tickets, which of course would be a huge disappointment.
For a full list of Brooklyn’s public skate parks, visit www.nycgovparks.org/parks/B380.