Expert welcomes Sackville’s move to lift skateboard ban on town streets

UBC Professor Mariana Brussoni

A prominent developmental psychologist, who conducts research on child injury prevention, says Sackville Town Council appears to be on the right track in exploring ways to allow skateboarding on at least some municipal streets.

“Children and youth need to be able to take risks in their play, to connect with their friends, to have the ability to engage in physical activity, to move around independently and so on,” Mariana Brussoni writes in an e-mail to Warktimes.

Brussoni, who teaches in the Department of Pediatrics and the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia, says that municipal planners need to balance children’s need for physical activity with their right to be safe.

“Historically, municipal planning has really focussed on moving cars and adults’ use of public streets,” Brussoni said in a recent telephone interview.

“We see the needs of children and youth being ignored making it harder and harder for them to engage with their communities, to be able to move around independently, to meet up with their friends, to go out and play and those sorts of things,” she adds.

“Skateboarding can be an important way for kids to be able to get around and to cover more distances than they would if they were walking,” Brussoni says, “but one of the challenges, of course, is that children and youth want to feel safe on their skateboards, they want to feel safe where they’re going.”

She suggests that Sackville could permit skateboarding on less-congested residential streets and that the town could set up special lanes for skateboarding and cycling.

Most of all, though, she says the town should consult young people themselves so their voices can be heard on town planning issues.

Councillors move ahead to permit street skateboards

Councillor Bill Evans

At their meeting on April 12th, a majority of Sackville councillors voted to direct staff to work with the town lawyer to find ways of permitting skateboards on streets while considering safety, liability and enforcement concerns.

“This is not a personal issue for me,” said Councillor Bill Evans. “I am not a skateboarder, but this is a huge fairness issue for me,” he added.

“I don’t think it’s fair to exclude one mode of transportation.”

Evans said he understood that council will not likely be ready to lift the skateboard ban before the municipal election on May 10th and that a new council would have to deal with the issue.

CAO Jamie Burke said staff have already sought help from LAC Group, a research firm that has worked with neighbouring municipalities.

When Councillor Bruce Phinney wondered why the town is disregarding advice from the town’s lawyer and insurance company on liability issues, Burke said it would be a matter of managing risk.

“We know by doing this, we’re increasing the risk, but there are ways to manage the risk,” he said. “So, that’s what we would be looking to explore with our insurance provider and solicitor.”

Skateboard history

Councillor Andrew Black

Phinney, who voted against exploring ways of lifting the skateboard ban, wondered whether skateboards were originally intended for transportation or just recreation.

“Skateboards are intimately connected to surfboards,” said Councillor Andrew Black, who’s an avid skateboarder himself.

“When you’re on a surfboard, you can surf whatever water’s in front of you. When you’re on a skateboard, you can skate whatever’s in front of you.”

Black added that skateboards were made for travel.

“If there happened to be a ramp in front of you, you go up it or down it. If there was a curb in front of you, you jump it.

“They were made for street traffic travel,” Black concluded.

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21 Responses to Expert welcomes Sackville’s move to lift skateboard ban on town streets

  1. Kelly Alder says:

    So entertaining listening to Evans go on about fairness. Sure can tell an election is coming. I just hope anyone who votes does the research on this guy, he loves the sound of his own voice and generally looks out for himself and his own personal views. Please people, don’t re elect him again.

    • Marika says:

      I know – one of my primary motivations for voting is that I can go at it from the “anybody but Evans” angle.

      It’s hard to imagine that he believes this stuff himself. The sad thing is that enough people did the last time around that he was re-elected – but if memory serves, not by as many votes as when he was first elected. People are cluing in to him…

  2. marilyn lerch says:

    I do not understand this. To risk the life of one child, I don it get it. Even if the town assumes the risk of being sued, etc. why provide an opportunity to be seriously injured, killed. Expand the skate board park or close a section of town on a weekend, but skateboards are not modes of transportation. Has the town done a survey to see how many people will be on the streets on skateboards if the ban is lifted?

    • Judy Ells says:

      Marilyn, I agree whole heartedly with what you are saying and one child is way too big a price to pay. This psychologist says children need to take risk in their play but I sure wouldn’t want to be the one to hit that child taking risks and neither would anyone else. On the other hand, we might get some potholes filled!

    • Tom M says:

      Hi Marilyn,
      Just wanted to let you know, growing up as a youth in this town I used my skateboard to get around. I wasn’t able to do fancy tricks so it was used to get from place to place and enjoy time with my friends outdoors. That later progressed to a long board which is specifically made for commuting, not tricks or jumps. I used this instead of a bicycle to get around. Over my 10 years of skateboarding, I never had an issue using the streets to get around, or was injured by doing so.

  3. Thilo Joerger says:

    Should Council go ahead with permitting skateboads on streets, they should also ensure that cars adhere to prescribed speeds. There are several streets where cars regularly exceed the posted speed limits, some by substantial amounts. Salem Street, with a posted 40 km/h speed limit and two blind hills, feels more like a race track at many times of the day.

  4. Percy Best says:

    One can certainly see how, over the years, all children’s playground equipment has progressively been made safer by the engineering experts that design the play systems. Our Town, has put a lot of thought and funds into making sure that the Bill Johnstone Park, as well as the Lillas Fawcett Park equipment, was designed top notch and as safe as they could be and still allow the children to exercise while playing. We have done wonders to protect our children and citizens from injury.

    And now, here we have an outgoing Council that has almost given unanimous approval to having the kids go play in the traffic. One has to ask themselves why would certain councilors lobby so hard to have this approved? Is there a skateboard shop in the cards as a new Sackville business? Cars, trucks and motorcycles certainly do not mix well with 2″ wheeled skateboards, especially in our Town that cannot keep up to properly maintaining our streets and roads. Just check the last report card that we received on the condition of our street surface infrastructure.

    We are only spending half, that we should, in order to keep them maintained to the proper required level. Sackville’s pothole and patching budget is in excess of that in Fredericton which has over 10 times the population.

  5. Sue says:

    The kids of this town have been skateboarding for years. I have lived here most of my life and haven’t yet heard of one getting hit while on a skateboard. It’s more dangerous crossing at a crosswalk then it is using a skateboard.

  6. Peter Edwards says:

    On Monday 19 April or Tuesday 20 April, my spouse and I were driving to the town centre from Middle Sackville . As we turned the bend on Main Street, approaching the crosswalk between the residences on the left and the office and classroom buildings on the right, a skateboard rider appeared out of nowhere. Clearly the individual had rolled down the pathway from the residences and right out onto the crosswalk. There were no other vehicles on the street, none visible in front or in back of me. I assume the rider was a university student and had been unable to see either left or right on the way down the slope but was nonetheless rolling at a great speed. My spouse and I always slow down to 40 to 45 km on that uphill approach, and this time fortunately. The startled look on the face of the skate-boarder as I stopped no more than about three or four feet from her was nerve racking. Clearly she couldn’t stop, slow down or jump off the board, but once aware that we did not collide, she kept on rolling at the rate the built up force was taking her. Didn’t look back, didn’t show any sign of embarrassment, just kept rolling , then pumping the incline toward the centre campus. This is not the first close call I have witnessed at this spot, although this is first time it was caused by a skate boarder.

    If the town is going to open the streets to skate boards, maybe it is time to require a personal safety training course for the riders. In the mean time, it would perhaps be prudent to erect a 40 km speed limit sign on the Main-Street bend approaching the crosswalk.

  7. Wrayton says:

    If you are truly worried about people getting hurt or killed you should turn your attention to sports like football and basketball which are statistically far more injurious than skateboarding.

    • Percy Best says:

      Wrayton, thanks for providing the link above to the articles on U.S. skateboard safety. As you are well aware, our small town has allocated approximately $100,000 over the past few years to provide as safe, and as enjoyable, a dedicated skateboard facility as Councilors and Staff felt comfortable with. The current proposal in front of the Council is whether one wants skateboards mixing and mingling with cars, trucks and motorcycles on our Town streets and roads.

      The U.S. article that you provided the link to states the following:

      1 — “The number of skateboarder deaths between 2011 and 2015 in the U.S. was 147 and almost all of these happened on the road.”

      2 — “125,145 skateboard injuries were attended to in the emergency departments of hospitals in 2015.”

      3 — “Only about 5% of skateboard injuries are severe and most of these occur from an accident involving a vehicle.”

      4 — “The risk of dying while skateboarding is close to zero in a skatepark. That is not the case while riding on the road.”

      So, Wrayton, the matter before our Council is simply whether mixing skateboards and vehicles is a good idea. Presumably, you like the idea.

      • Wrayton says:

        1 — “The number of skateboarder deaths between 2011 and 2015 in the U.S. was 147 and almost all of these happened on the road.”

        That’s 147 deaths over four years in a country of 330,000,000 people. You are more likely to die choking on a ham sandwich than skateboarding.

        If you are truly worried about people’s safety your advocacy would be better placed regulating more dangerous activities like walking, swimming, ATVs, football, baseball, soccer, etc.

      • Allison C says:


        From your active participation in the Local Facebook group I KNOW you are aware that many skateboarders have cited the lack of maintenance at the skate park and it’s resultant lack of safety as a point of concern.

        According to the iihs there were 3708 traffic deaths of cyclists in the US during the same period. ( So, if safety is your concern, fix up the skatepark and get the cyclists off the streets!! (To be clear I’m NOT advocating for removing cyclists)

        More broadly, I simply don’t see the increased risk here as compared to other forms of transportation as substantial especially considering the number of people that actively skateboard. It feels more like an inability to look past the counter culture reputation of skateboarding versus cycling, roller blading, scootering etc.. Anecdotally I’ve had closer calls with pedestrians running out into traffic on Main St. than I have with any skateboarders.

  8. Kelly says:

    Wondering oh wise one (wrayton) do as many people skateboard as eat?

    • Wrayton says:

      It was a joke, the bit about the ham sandwich, I’ll admit I didn’t look the number up and that I actually have no idea how many Americans eat.

  9. Sharon Hicks says:

    Reply to WarkTimes article …

    I checked the link Wrayton provided, which is interesting but not as factual as one might hope.

    First, we find this disclosure at the bottom of the page, in VERY FINE PRINT : – “This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by marketing, advertising, and linking to … As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. …”

    Amazon Services Associates is an advertising program designed for website owners to earn fees by linking their site to The site in question includes an ‘Ad by Amazon’, showing items for skateboarders. Readers can click on the ad to order from Amazon, and the website owner earns a commission for resulting sales. Of course the ‘big winner’ is Amazon!.

    Next, the comparisons between numbers of injuries in different sports are quoted as ”injuries per 100,000 population”. There is no indication as to how many of those 100,000 people actually participate in each sport listed.

    Example – injuries for skateboarders is 38 for every 100,000 population, while injuries for playground users are 66 per 100,000 population. At first glance, it appears that skateboards are much safer than playground equipment.

    However, look closer. If 20% of that population actually uses skateboards (a generous estimate, according to googled sources), we’d be looking at 38 injuries for every 20,000 people. Then, if you figure that at least twice that number (probably even higher) would use playground equipment, we’re looking at 66 injuries per every 40,000 people, which would equate to 33 injuries for every 20,000 people (to compare with 38 per 20,000 for skateboard injuries).

    In summary, by adjusting for number of participants, rather than using the total population, we get a more realistic picture of the relative safety of each sport.

    Finally, there are several external links provided in that website which Wrayton mentioned. The first link ( ) takes us to a 7-page document titled SKATEBOARD SAFETY GUIDE, put together by an organization called Skateboard Safety.Org, and lists various aspects of staying safe on a skateboard – such as tips for kids on skateboards, safety equipment, and general tips for safe riding.

    There are a couple notes of interest in that document – on page 2 we find this line: “Serious skateboarding injuries happen when you lose control and fall or run into a motor vehicle, road hazard, pedestrian, another skateboarder or bicyclist.”

    Then, at the end of the section on equipment, there is a list of safety tips, beginning with this line: “Skateboard only on smooth pavement away from traffic, preferably in a supervised skate park.”

    I think that says a lot.

    • Wrayton says:

      If people are interested they can judge the merits of the article and the statistics supplied by the United States Safety Council themselves.

      • Sharon Hicks says:

        Yes Wrayton, and that is exactly what I did, since I am interested – I checked the article and examined the statistics, and my comment above reflects my findings.

        I know you posted that link to demonstrate why skateboards ‘should’ be allowed on streets, however the other links ‘from’ that article definitely speak ‘against’ using skateboards on streets. So it actually conflicts with your purpose – just didn’t know whether you were aware of that.

  10. Pete stephenson says:

    Can wee outlawwww the jacked up noisy pickup trucks?

  11. Cathy says:

    There are also in-line skaters, non motorized scooters, motorized mobility scooters and power chairs out on the road. As far as I know, there are no regulations for operating these modes of transport. Licensing nor helmets are required.

    If you lose your driver’s license you can drive a mobility scooter or power chair instead.

    I believe that only motorcyclists, and bicyclists are required to wear helmets in NB. However in NS at least helmets are mandatory for people of all ages when riding a bicycle, skateboarding, in-line skating and scootering. It would be nice to see NB look at implementing/improving safety regulations for all modes of transport including skateboarding.

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