Council's new proposal takes focus off skateboarders

July 08, 1996|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

There may be hope yet for teens forbidden by law from riding skateboards on the streets of Annapolis.

The city council is to vote tonight on a bill that allows anyone to use "any non-motorized wheeled vehicle" as a mode of transportation through the city as long as they do it safely.

The amended version of a measure introduced in April by Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins takes the focus off skateboarders. Hopkins' original bill forbade anyone to "ride on or use a skateboard on the street, alleys, sidewalks and public ways" in the business, industrial or conservation zoning districts, or Hilltop Lane, and imposed a $50 fine on violators.

City youth and their parents were outraged, saying the bill unfairly targeted skateboarders and banned skateboarding.

The new language forbids a person to "ride on or use any non-motorized wheeled vehicle in a negligent manner on any public street, alley, sidewalk or way in the city of Annapolis." It lists not just skateboards, but "in-line skates, Rollerblades, bicycles and any other vehicle with one or more wheel[s] that is propelled by human power."

Skateboarders see the inclusion of skates and bicycles and the addition of the word "negligent," which the bill defines as "in a careless or imprudent manner that endangers any property or the life, safety or person of any individual," as a step forward.

Alderman Theresa DeGraff, chairwoman of the council's Public Safety Committee, said determining negligence would be left to a police officer's discretion.

The amendments were proposed by the committee after an April 30 hearing in which 50 skateboarders and their parents showed up to complain. The amendments retain the $50 fine for violators.

DeGraff, a 7th Ward Republican, said the new bill is needed because the current law is "too archaic" and "didn't seem fair."

"People who play tennis or basketball have their own courts, and baseball or football players have their own fields. If you're a skateboarder, though, you're just in everyone's way. I think they're entitled to recreational facilities."

Pub Date: 7/08/96

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