For now, the City of Charleston is holding off on a proposal to ban skateboarding throughout a large section of the peninsula. Instead, Charleston City Council member Mike Seekings is inviting a group of skaters to provide input on the topic of regulating skating downtown.
The original proposal from April, which would have made it illegal to ride a skateboard in a zone stretching from Line Street in the north to Broad Street in the south, was met with resistance by skaters and advocacy groups including Pour It Now. A contingent of skaters had planned to speak out during the public-comment session at tonight's City Council meeting, but Pour It Now Executive Director Ryan Cockrell says he has "called off the dogs" since meeting with Councilman Seekings in his office Monday.
"We're going to have to come to some agreements about if there are areas that wouldn't necessarily be the best place to have a skateboard," Cockrell says. Cockrell and Seekings will now become co-chairs of a 13-member committee to provide input on skateboarding rules. Other members of the committee will include skaters, law enforcement officers, and downtown residents, and they will work to have a new proposal ready for City Council by the time college students return in the fall, Seekings says.
As it stands today, skateboarding is banned in commercial districts, school overlay zones, and places where the speed limit is over 25 mph, a confusing arrangement that even police officers have had a hard time knowing how to enforce.
The Line-Street-to-Broad-Street proposal would have simplified the map of no-skating zones, but it also would have banned skateboarding in parts of the city where it is a popular mode of transportation — including on streets around the College of Charleston campus. Cockrell started an online petition against the proposal that has so far gotten more than 240 signatures.
Seekings says the current skateboarding zone is "unintelligible and not a good scheme for anybody." The proposed rule change came about when the city's legal department sought input from the residents of several downtown residents about the presence of skateboarders in their neighborhoods.
Seekings says the complaints from his constituents are legion, including "that it's dangerous, that there are no rules, that skateboarders — if there were rules — wouldn't adhere to them, that they're on sidewalks, that they go the wrong way down a one-way street, that they skate at night, that you can't see them, that they don't have lights, that they talk on the phone."
"I could go on forever," he adds.