Thursday, May 22, 2008

AT-Canada: Skateboard Edition

With youth activity levels declining and obesity rates increasing, considerable effort is being undertaken to improve the physical fitness of Canada's young people. Yet youth have identified one form of physical activity that they enjoy: skateboarding.

Society's response? Usually outright bans on use or restrictions that seriously impede skateboards value either as play or Active Transportation. In most Canadian communities skateboards are not permitted, usually by municipal ordinance, on sidewalks, on streets, at schools, on buses, in the downtown, in businesses - almost anywhere where young people might actually want to use them or carry them between uses. Even when special reserves are created - skateboard parks - these are often located on the edges of communities and unconnected by routes that skateboarders may use to access them.

A recent event in Fredericton NB, where a 25-year old businessman who uses a skateboard to commute to work went to jail rather than pay a fine for illegally using (i.e. on a city street) his skateboard for transportation, indicates the possible need for authorities to rethink their regulations regarding this mode of transportation and play of the younger members of society. It also suggests, to me, the vlaue of identifying Active Transportation, rather than walking or biking, as the principal term of reference for non-motorized transport.

Following are a number of recent articles about skateboarding around the world. The first few profile the event in Fredericton and some of the reaction it has generated.

Article & Video - Skater opts for jail over paying fine

The Toronto Star, May 15
Author: Justin Piercey

A 25-year-old Fredericton man is behind bars [May 15] after surrendering to police. His crime? Skateboarding on the streets.

Click on story title for link to full story.

Article - Skateboarding still a crime: cops to skater

CBC News, May 21

A skateboarder jailed last week for refusing to pay a fine for skateboarding on a Fredericton street has received another ticket - for more skateboarding.


Article - Green travel runs into roadblock

Amherst Daily News, May 19
Author: Editorial

An oddity in the news reported this week by The Canadian Press tells of skateboarder Lee Breen, a young man in Fredericton who rides his board rather than drive a car. The trouble is his mode of getting around is in contravention of Bylaw S-9, which prohibits the use of skateboards along with sleds and toboggans on the streets.

This isn’t a kid out for kicks. The 25-year-old owner-operator of an eco-friendly lawn care company says he is championing the environment with this absolutely green form of travel. After all, cyclists are able to use the streets.

He’s also safety-conscious about it, wearing safety gear and using hand traffic signals.


Article - Middle-school students back Breen

We think it is wrong that Lee Breen was arrested for skateboarding. Skateboarding is the same thing as biking except on a board with four wheels. Both help the environment and are traffic-friendly when ridden with care.


Article - Using Your Head Can Help Prevent Potentially Life Altering Summer Related Sports Injuries

According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), the most recent statistics from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) indicate that there were an estimated 319,000 sports-related head injuries treated in US hospital emergency rooms in 2006, an increase of 10,000 injuries from the year before.

The following are the top 10 sports and recreation-related activities contributing to head injuries in 2006:

-- Cycling: 65,319
-- Football: 34,638
-- Powered Recreational Vehicles (ATVs, Dune Buggies, Go-Carts, Mini bikes, Off- road): 28,585
-- Basketball: 25,788
-- Baseball and Softball: 23,125
-- Water Sports (Diving, Scuba Diving, Surfing, Swimming, Water Polo, Water Skiing): 16,060
-- Skateboards/Scooters: 15,978
-- Soccer: 15,208
-- Fitness/Exercise (including at health clubs): 11,895
-- Horseback Riding: 9,260


Video - US: go skateboarding day: cop vs skaters

Police and youth show how well anti-skateboarding laws are sometimes observed and enforced. Ironically, these events took place on National Skateboarding Day in 2007.


Article - Australia: Life’s just full of fun

The Advertiser, May 21

Barbara Pelczynska is almost 80 years old, but yesterday she showed that neither culture nor age act as a barrier to physical activity. Ms Pelczynska decided to give skateboarding a try.


Article - US: Downtown skateboarding under review, May 13
Author: Kelly Bouchard

Councilor David Marshall, committee chairman, said the proposal to ban skateboarding in the Old Port and Arts District came from representatives of Portland's Downtown District. The ban would apply to the city's pedestrian activities district.

Marshall said a group of skateboarders has circulated a petition to protect their right to use skateboards as a mode of transportation.


Article - UK: Skateboarding is not a crime

Guernsey Globe, May 16
Author: Emily Burden

Skateboarding is fast becoming one of the most popular sports in the island. With the success of another LibJam proudly showcasing the local talent, it’s time people start realising that skateboarding is a sport and not a mindless act of vandalism.


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Upcoming Active Transportation Workshops

A number of Active Transportation Workshops are being held in Nova Scotia over the next two weeks (facilitated by myself). Most of these are open to the public:

May 9 - Lunenburg, Community AT Workshop, 0900-1600
May 12 - Yarmouth, Community AT Workshop, 0900-1600
May 12 - Shelburne, AT Public Presentation, 1900-2100
May 13 - Kentville, AT Public Presentation, 1900-2100
May 14 - Kentville, Community AT workshop, 0900-1600
May 15 - Kentville, AT Presenter's Training Workshop, 0900-1700

For information on the sessions in Lunenburg, Shelburne, and Yarmouth, contact: Peter McCracken, Physical Activity Capacity Coordinator, South Shore Active Communities, 902.543.0647,

To attend the sessions in Kentville, contact Tracy Roberts, Nova Scotia Health Promotion and Protection, 902.679.4390,

Presentation - AT and Climate Change

On May 2, CHNET-Works! presented, on its regular Friday "Fireside Chat" Webinar, a presentation entitled "Active Transportation and Climate Change". This can be downloaded from their Website.

Fireside Chats are free pan-Canadian discussion forums for professionals in community health. Participants join in by both telephone and internet conferences.
The toll free telephone conference allows participants to hear the presentation and to join in the discussions. An internet conference software allows participants see the PowerPoint Presentation from the Advisor on Tap's desktop.


Call for Papers - Association of Commuter Transportation - Canada

ACT Canada is pleased to announce our Call for Papers for the Canadian TDM Summit being held in Halifax, Nova Scotia from November 19 to 22, 2008. Abstracts are due by May 30, 2008 and should be submitted electronically through the link available at

The goal of the TDM Summit 2008 is to continue to build collaboration through the five pillars of sustainable transportation - transportation, health, economy, land use and the environment. Desired outcomes of the TDM Summit include:

· Increased capacity for the delivery and promotion of sustainable transportation options
· Best practice knowledge exchange
· Increased multi-disciplinary collaboration
· Increased awareness of the impacts of transportation on health, the economy and environment
· Showcase of successful GHG emission reduction strategies

Article - Bicycle-Sharing Program to Be First of Kind in U.S.

New York Times, April 27
Author: Bernie Becker

A new public-private venture called SmartBike DC will make 120 bicycles available at 10 spots in central locations in Washington. The automated program, which district officials say is the first of its kind in the nation, will operate in a similar fashion to car-sharing programs like Zipcar.


Conference - NS: Green Mobility Forum

May 21-22, 2008, Acadia University, Fountain Commons Great Hall, Wolfville NS.

This two-day forum, sponsored by the Ecology Action Centre and Transport 2000 Atlantic, offers interactive panel discussions, dynamic speakers, and hands-on workshops.

For more information:

Article - Biking is a healthy and safe option for seniors

Ottawa Citizen, April 15
Author: Tom Trottier, Ottawa Citizens for Safe Cycling

Do you really need a car to do all your errands, especially after you are retired?


Article - Tips For Biking With Child On Board, May 5
Author: admin

Leading Toronto City Program Safety Planner Offers Helpful Hints.


Article - UK: Kids banned from biking to school

BBC Newsround, May 6
Author: unattributed

This week is Bike to School Week, and studies have found half of school-age children want to be able to hop on their bike. But only one out of five pupils in the UK are allowed to, because lots of parents won't let their kids cycle because of safety fears.


Website - Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center

Better Environmentally Sound Transportation (BEST), based in Vancouver, has created, a Website containing a list of resources and programs designed to promote Active Transportation.


Humour - Department for Transport apologises over usable cycle lane

If you have been curious over how bicycle lanes are designed, selected, or maintained, you are not alone! As this short humourous article from the United Kingdom suggests, inadequate bicycle infrastructure may be a world-wide concern.