Nice weather brings on summer headaches as people take to the streets on bicycles and skateboards, and Utah police agencies are warning motorists and pedestrians to be on the lookout for those wheeling down roads and sidewalks.
No ordinances governing skateboards exist in Salt Lake or Davis counties. Salt Lake City prohibits skateboarders from downtown streets and sidewalks. The ordinance, however, does not extend outside the central business district."It was drafted because the skateboarders in the downtown area came zooming past people and would scare a number of people, particularly handicapped people who couldn't get out of the way very fast," said Assistant Salt Lake City Attorney Greg Hawkins.
"And they wanted to ban them because riding bikes on the downtown sidewalks has been prohibited for years and years. And we're concerned about it," said Hawkins.
"We've always banned certain pastimes on city streets. The sidewalks are for pedestrian travel and not for playing of games."
Downtown officers ticket offenders who either ride bikes or skateboards on downtown sidewalks, said Sgt. Don Cambpell, head of the Salt Lake Police Department's foot patrol division.
"If they're 16 and violating any city ordinance, they get a ticket for it. If they're under 16 they get referred to juvenile court," said Campbell.
Bicycle couriers going at top speeds on sidewalks also are causing problems for pedestrians, he said. "It's more appropriate to New York City than Salt Lake City."
Bountiful prohibits skateboards on the streets. "In a way, it's like an uncontrolled pedestrian on the street," said City Attorney Lane Forbes. "They're kind of out of control. You can't brake them. I don't think that there is an inalienable right to have skateboards. I'm not against them."
Forbes said his son who is now 25 years old received a citation for skateboarding.
The Davis County community enacted the ordinance out of concern for skateboard riders, said Russell Mahan, Bountiful city prosecutor.
"If someone's driving down the street, it's hard to foresee that someone may dart out on a skateboard," said Mahan.
With spring moving into the Wasatch Front, bicyclists and skateboarders take to the roads. And so begins the rites of spring - dodging people on wheels.
"Sidewalks weren't built for skateboarders; they were built for pedestrians. Roadways were built for cars and now bicycles in this day and age," said Salt Lake County Sheriff's Lt. Lee Smith.
"There are a lot of kids out on the sidewalks with the boards. Its just one of the summer headaches."
The same laws that apply to vehicles apply to bicyclists, said Smith. But the sheriff's lieutenant concedes there are no rules for skateboards in the county.
"We could give them jaywalking tickets. There are other traffic rules having to do with impeding the traffic. But because they're kids and they're just enjoying their skateboards, they're ignorant of those rules."
Skateboarders on the roadways who cause hazards could be referred to juvenile court on a charge of disorderly conduct. "In other words, they're creating a hazard by their actions rather than violating traffic laws."