Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Skaters Vs. Scooter Mum -Video Opinion.

Watch video:
Skaters Vs. Scooter Mum Video

The first thing i have to say about this video is that they all have as much right to be there as each other, yet it is at the risk of their own safety!!!
In saying that I think it is important for us to look a little deeper into how this skate park dynamic…. is often not so dynamic.

The parents are arguing that it's a public space and their kids are just wee toddlers on scooters and therefore the older skater kids should give them right of way and ensure they do not hit them. After all, they are just precious wee kids learning their first motor skills. The skateboarders are saying that it's a "Skate park" designed for skateboarding and they are utilising the many design features in the manner they were planned out to be used and that they are unable to concentrate on difficult maneuvers  because there are toddlers riding through their path with no consideration for what they are trying to achieve.

So lets get down to the nitty gritty. Hooten Reserve skateboard park was designed by skateboarder Jason Parkes  (Premium Construction) specifically for skateboarding.
Some skateparks such as Vic park are designed to accommodate BMX as well. But Albany does not appear to have any BMX specific obstacles. Skateboarders from these communities have put in painstaking work to petition these parks into existence. The scooter fad did not exist when the likes of Albany, Vic and barry curtis were planned and built. Therefore this issue was not foreseen although it has been of growing concern for years now.

This may annoy a lot of skaters but i'm just going to say it. Scooters have as much right to ride the park as skateboarders. Just like skateboards, scooters and bikes have as much right to ride on footpaths and roads as pedestrians and cars.
The exception here is that toddlers, on or off any sort of wheeled device, do not belong in the midst of a heated skate session unless they know how the park works and aware of the dangers. In respect of those dangers, they need to give way to those that are bigger and better than them, parents need to be realistic and respect that this is a sports arena crossed with a busy street, not a playground. There are intricate unwritten guidelines for survival in this arena, and for the same reasons you don't send your toddlers out to play in the middle of a game of rugby or the middle of a busy road, you don't set them loose at a skateboard park and expect them to be the focal point of everyones attention and pampering. After all the skateboarders are there to get good at skateboarding, not babysit.

On a positive note, I like to think of the skateparks we have as experimental works for future developments. Skateboarders have worked extremely hard in conjunction with the councils to build these average sized skate parks. For this we are grateful as these are the best skateparks we have ever had in New Zealand, well except for Skatopia from the 70's. And despite a new level of design and construction, we are still lagging behind the rest of the world, especially in our city centers.

The solution to this situation is that we extend skateparks and playgrounds, make them as big as we possibly can, with lots of flat ground and paths where kids can learn basics out of harms way.
We could even be so futuristic as to have a kindergarten area where parents can take their kids and let them rip. Allow them a space to get used to balancing on wheels before they are put in with the big kids. Help them develop their senses of peripheral vision, control, plus the reflexes to arm them with confidence. Lets teach them skills that are valuable to all areas of their future lives.

In the meantime, my advice to parents who bring their kids to skate parks is to sit down with your kids, have a chat to them and explain how the skate park works, before you set them loose, have a look at where the busy parts of the park are and tell them to steer clear of them. You could even go so far as to educate yourself further about the art of skateboarding, you may feel a sense of enlightenment. You may even find yourself out there skating and learning along side your kids.
Happy skating and scooting out there! Stay safe.