Bylaws Need to Consider Longboards
Coun. David Chernushenko is taking a long view on longboards. Skateboards have been in legal limbo in Ottawa because a bylaw says they aren’t allowed on roadways and sidewalks. Roadways, under the bylaw definition, don’t include shoulders. Still, skateboarders are using the roads. But Chernushenko says the popularity of longboards as an alternative transportation mode should prompt the city to consider where they fit in with the rules of the road. Longboards are typically faster than skateboards thanks to their larger wheels. They are longer than skateboards and their primary urban use is for travel, not necessarily tricks.Chernushenko, who represents Capital Ward, wants longboards to be in the same category as bicycles when it comes to using roads.
“Then we can make it much clearer that you don’t belong on the sidewalks,” Chernushenko said Wednesday.
There are similar bylaw uncertainties with inline skating and electronic bikes, although the province says e-bikes can be operated on roads. Chernushenko says there is a key difference between skateboards and longboards that warrants a bylaw consideration.
“The problem is (longboards) go that much faster,” Chernushenko said, but he’s not looking for a crackdown on longboarders, especially since it’s an emission-free way to travel.
Police should “show a little flexibility to people who are operating responsibly,” he said.
There could be difficulty with lumping longboards into the same category as bicycles, since the Highway Traffic Act says bikes need to have lights and reflectors. Sticking reflectors and lights on longboards wouldn’t be as easy. Chernushenko isn’t the only councillor who has considered the longboard issue. Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Peter Clark mentioned to the transportation committee he has received at least one complaint of a longboarder startling pedestrians by “whizzing by at high speeds.”
“This is timely in my sense to clarify just what they can do,” Clark told colleagues.
Kanata North Coun. Marianne Wilkinson, chairwoman of the committee, agrees there should be rules on where longboards can go.
“The longboards go so fast. I don’t think they should go on sidewalks,” Wilkinson said.
By Jon Willing