Letter: Simple rules make skate park safer

Many people want to use Penzer Park so safety is key.

Dear Editor,

It’s really wonderful to see so many children and families using the new Penzer Action Park in Langley City – less screen time and more outdoor time!

However, there is a particular safety concern regarding the pump track/skate park section of the park and the lack of understanding of how this area should be used. With the high number of users of all ages and abilities riding all types of bikes, scooters and skateboards at the same time, this is a recipe for disaster if users and parents don’t know the basic rules and etiquettes for using such facilities.

Though there is signage posted listing basic rules (e.g. no swearing, use at own risk, wear helmets, take your turn, etc.), based on experience, I believe there is much more education required for everyone’s safety and enjoyment. I’ve witnessed collisions, injuries to young and old, arguments and many dangerous near misses – most of them preventable with the right education.

Parents, this is for you. If you have older children/teens using the park, show them this article and ensure they understand their role to keeping it safe and enjoyable for others. If you have younger children, teach them the proper use of the pump track/skate park before allowing them to get on the track, and then supervise carefully.

It would be asinine to allow your child to swim in the deep end of a public pool underneath the diving boards, just because “you pay taxes” and your child should be able to swim “wherever they want.” Or take them to a public skating rink and allow them to skate against the flow of all of the other skaters because the other skaters “don’t own the rink” and your child has the “right to skate where they want.” (Yes, I have heard these arguments at the park.).

Similarly, the dips, turns and drops of a concrete skate park have inherent danger, and it’s both ignorant and dangerous to jump in without knowing the basic rules to follow.

Education and common sense will reduce the chance of injuries and allow everyone to enjoy using this amazing new park for many years to come. (A simple Google search on skate park safety and you will see most of these rules listed below are standard in skate parks across the globe.)

Codes of Conduct and Rules of Etiquette

For the safety and flow of the pump track/skate park, the guidelines below are for every parent and child to follow and should be understood before setting foot, bike, scooter or board in the concrete wonderland:

Teach your children

For their safety and the safety of others, teach your children the rules before letting them use the skate park.

No free daycare

Do not leave young child unsupervised and allow them to play in the bowls – dangerous for them and dangerous and annoying for other users.

Being aware of lines/flow

Keep your head up and watch for other riders/skaters. Cutting across someone’s path is dangerous for other park users and may lead to some bad injuries if you collide.

Whenever you go to ride/skate, take a few minutes to work out where the lines are before joining in. New riders/skaters usually struggle with this rule, particular if they are young as their spatial awareness is still developing.

Don’t snake, wait your turn

Snaking occurs when you drop in on another user while they are in the middle of their run. It is the single largest cause of collisions. If you accidentally snake someone, get out of their way as soon as possible and apologize. Be patient and wait your turn.

Keep moving and know your place

The flat ground in the bowl is not for riding/skating round and round. Keep moving with the flow/lines. Drop in, ride/skate and get out of the bowls to make room for the next person waiting to drop in.

No marathon runs

Keep your runs short and sweet, and leave some for the rest of us.

Timing is everything

Heavy afternoon sessions at the skate park can be intimidating, especially if your child is just learning. If you’re a beginner, it might be better to plan your park visits during non-peak hours to avoid the crowd and be able to practice your new skills without the pressure.

Think Before You Sit

When you sit or stand in the skate park, you are putting yourself in danger of being hit as well as irritating other park users. You are also likely to be blocking the rail, ledge or ramp that someone wants to use. If you’re having a break, move off of the park and out of the way.

Standing on the edge of the bowl or half-pipe is also a big no-no. You never know when or where that rider will attempt a trick above the lip right into your shins.

Bikes

No metal pegs. No muddy tires. Dirt and little pebbles are treacherous to skateboard and scooter wheels. Also, look before you leap out of the bowl into bystanders.

Don’t Be a Jerk to the Young Kids

Everyone has to start somewhere. Be patient with the younger kids and try to help them on occasion. And if their parents are around, maybe give them some friendly advice, too, on how their kid can safely ride the park with everyone else.

Respect the “try”

Every rider/skater is trying to do their personal best. Keep your comments positive and encouraging. Nobody needs a chimer.

Don’t Be Afraid to Apologize

If you slip up and break one of the rules above, don’t be afraid to apologize to people when you realize it. If you get plowed over because you were in the way, dust yourself off, make sure the other rider is all right, and tell him you are sorry for not looking out. A simple apology goes a long way.

Corrie Horn, Langley