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‘It’s not a playground’: Island skater warns parents on skate park etiquette

It’s important to be mindful of your surroundings and other riders at the skatepark
A Victoria skater is warning parents about how to train their children. (Courtesy of the City of Victoria)

Becoming a skateboarder may be a half-pipe dream to some, but those who try should be conscious of the “unwritten rules of the park,” according to a local skater.

Member of the community and longtime skater Steven Alan wants to remind people that Topaz Park in Victoria isn’t a place for people to use as a “playground” and can be dangerous when treated as such.

“Hop by Topaz Park at any peak hour; it’s a zoo of children playing in the park like a jungle gym,” said Alan.

After expressing his concerns on social media, some residents pushed back and said newcomers have a right to learn to skate anywhere.

Alan says he encourages children and beginners to take up the sport, but for parents to be mindful of their children’s skill levels to avoid being injured by more experienced riders.

“The most frustrating part is many parents don’t teach their kids to be aware,” said Alan.

What is skatepark etiquette, and how can it protect kids and experienced skaters who want to shred without shredding anyone else?

For many skateboarders, a local skatepark is like a second home. It’s the place where some land their first trick and is often a location to honour the camaraderie of the local skate community. While different people create a healthy skate community, there are also natural dynamics that go along with sharing a public space. In most parks, skateboarders have become self-auditors, governing their own rules. Rules that, to the outsider, can be ambiguous and difficult to understand.

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Alan has been skating since the 1980s and said that since Topaz skatepark is new, he suggests creating coloured lines coordinated by skill to avoid collisions.

“Take a few minutes to stand back and watch how the skate park flows. Stick with the flow instead of going across it,” said Alan.

Being aware of your surroundings is the best way to mitigate crashes between riders at the park. Whether on a board, scooter, or bike, anticipating where another rider is about to “drop in” is huge for not interrupting someone’s trick.

Asking permission before waxing a surface to allow for more speed is a courteous action and can also keep someone less experienced from getting injured. Above all, the most encouraged element of the park is to skate responsibly and to have fun.

“Of course, we do our best as older, experienced skaters to educate them, but we’re also talking about kids so young they just started speaking,” said Alan.

With kids of his own, Alan says he wants to ensure that the skatepark is a safe and educational place for everybody.

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