EDITORIAL: Don't make our kids criminals

Coquitlam is well on its way to banning long boarding and other non-vehicle transportation from roads and sidewalks. But wouldn
Coquitlam is well on its way to banning long boarding and other non-vehicle transportation from roads and sidewalks. But wouldn't it make sense just to promote safety with youth instead of eliminating their transportation options?
— image credit: THINKSTOCK

Coquitlam's proposed Street and Traffic Bylaw would regulate the use of skateboards, longboards, in-line skates, scooters and similar non-motorized conveyances on city streets. Under the proposed bylaw, these conveyances would be prohibited on all city street and sidewalks but would be permitted on multi-use pathways. — Coquitlam bylaw, which received third reading last week.

Coquitlam council needs to do more consultation before it bans skateboards, longboards, scooters and other non-motorized transportation from its streets and sidewalks — seemingly a solution in search of a problem.

While the city has hills that are undoubtedly dangerous for skateboarders, legislating out of existence common transportation options for young people seems mean-spirited.

Many teens use skateboards, longboards and even scooters to get to school, and eliminating these options, except on a very few multi-use pathways (such those at Town Centre Park that lead nowhere but around and through the park) simply requires them to get a ride from their parents.

Banning these forms of transportation without discussion will make virtual criminals or outsiders of Coquitlam youth. Let's face it, most teens don't stay up to date with city bylaws and are unlikely to follow rules they haven't heard of, which forces the city to be a parent or nanny.

It also forces bylaw staff to engage in selective enforcement: They may ticket a 14-year-old riding on a sidewalk with buddies but likely won't do the same to a nine-year-old being followed by a parent even though both would be breaking the bylaw.

It would be better for the city to engage youth than to trample on their transportation options.

Council should work with the city's youth council, parks and recreation supervisors, and local board shops to organize meetings, especially at middle schools, to get kids, parents and everyone else to talk about and safety.

We also believe youth have been disrespected in the way this banning motion has been lumped in with other transportation issues and is being dealt with in the dog days of summer. It should have been separated out and made part of a larger community action.

Come on, Coquitlam council, just because the city's population is aging doesn't mean its OK to lose touch with your young people.



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