An article in Wednesday’s edition about a teen skateboarder who was injured Monday evening in a collision with a vehicle on Jefferson Street at West McKinney Street sparked debate in town, including on Facebook, about the implication of the legality of skating on a city street.

An article in Wednesday’s edition about a teen skateboarder who was injured Monday evening in a collision with a vehicle on Jefferson Street at West McKinney Street sparked debate in town, including on Facebook, about the implication of the legality of skating on a city street.
City ordinance defines a specific area surrounding the downtown square for a block in each direction in which skateboarding is prohibited. Otherwise, it is permitted as long as all other rules and regulations of the road “are strictly adhered to.” That can be applied to prohibit skateboards, depending on the situation and circumstance.
The police report stated the individual who struck a vehicle that was crossing Jefferson on McKinney as he sped northbound down Jefferson was wearing a black hoodie and dark colored jeans at about 6:20 p.m. The motorist reported that she did not see the skateboarder.
Police Chief David Kennedy noted that no reflective material was worn by the teen while skateboarding in the dark.
“It’s a safety issue for both the skaters and the public,” City Manager Troy Royer said. “It (the ordinance) also has that they won’t impede traffic or basically cause a safety issue with other motorized operators.”
Residents in the area are calling to complain about skateboarders flying down Big Spring Hill to Big Spring Park, where Royer said spotters at the bottom report when to go and not go because of traffic.
“They’re doing the same thing on Jefferson,” he said. “Basically, we are looking for ways to prevent them from doing this.”
A skate park with ramps was constructed after citizen Carol Dale raised funds to match about $20,000 that Dale coaxed out of the city. Royer said the skateboard community asked the city to invest more in the skate park a couple of years ago.
“We told them we would be willing to look into that if we saw some ownership by the skateboarders in keeping it clean, cut the graffiti and any kind of destruction of anything out there,” he said. “Over a year period, we received a $100 donation and that was it. We put it on them that they need to get it out there as an organization to try to raise funds.”
The skate park community was allowed to use Celebrate Neosho and the Neosho Fall Festival as a venue for raising funds, but Royer said it is unknown by the city if any money was raised.
“It’s discouraging that we have that skate park, they are wanting us to invest more funds in it, but though they do use it, they are out here in the streets causing injury,” he said. “Like the kid the other night who actually skateboarded down the hill and a car came out and he slammed right into the car. That’s what we are trying to prevent here. That’s why we have a code in place that prevents that kind of behavior, because it’s not only detrimental to the skateboarder, but it’s also property damage to the car they may hit or even a parked car. That’s personal property damage and that can be prevented.”
Of the many types of transportation that can be found on roads, skateboards lack one prevalent safety features found on cars, trucks, bicycles, motorcycles and 4-wheelers, and that is brakes, Royer said.
“That’s why skateboards shouldn’t be in the streets,” he insisted. “Skating down the middle of a street, which is made for vehicles, not skateboards. It’s the same thing for sidewalks. Sidewalks are meant for pedestrians to walk.
“God forbid that there would be somebody walking with a baby carriage or a stroller with a baby in it and one of those skateboarders comes flying down a hill and around a corner and knocks into and possibly hurt this baby or do something even worse.
“That’s why we have these ordinances in place about skateboarding on the sidewalk and skateboarding in the streets. It’s not only for property damage and the things that can happen to the other people, but for the skateboarders themselves. They could get killed out there if they get hit by a car. That is what the street is for is for vehicle traffic, not skateboarders.”
Section 310.040 of the city code regulates skateboard use. Under Prohibited/Permitted Operation, No. 3 states:
“No person shall operate a skateboard, roller skate, street skate, scooter or bicycle in an irresponsible manner causing excessive, unnecessary or offensive noise which disturbs the peace and quiet of any neighborhood or which causes a dangerous situation for the operator or the public.”
Language in No. 6 states that “pedestrian traffic is given the right of way” on all sidewalks and other paths.
“How can you hold a vehicle responsible for hitting a skateboarder that’s skating down the street when they shouldn’t be and they can’t see them and they are flying?” Royer asked. “Like I’ve said, we’ve got a skate park. Use the skate park.”
Skating down a busy city street at night with no lights or reflective clothes “is just asking for someone to get killed,” he said. “That falls on the conscious of the person who was in that vehicle to know that they just hit somebody that could have been avoided.”