City Hall heard the Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s message loud and clear today: enforcement should not be the city’s only means of effecting behavior change.
Yesterday, Mayor Adams convened a meeting with Commissioner Leonard, skateboard community members, Portland Police, and the BTA where it was made clear that all parties have serious concerns about dangerous skateboarding in the West Hills. With this understanding, Commissioner Leonard, who proposed banning skateboards, scooters, rollerskates, and in-line skates from certain Arlington Heights streets and sidewalks, delayed further action on the proposed ordinance. He is willing to wait a few months to see what change can come from education efforts and enforcement of existing laws.
Image: RHiNONEAL / Flickr
In the meantime, the SkateSafePDX campaign, which had been put on hold with the introduction of this ordinance, will now move forward. It will include a flyer, a website, videos, and signs in the Washington Park. The BTA looks forward to partnering with the Bureau of Transportation to support this and other safety campaigns. The Police Bureau has agreed to step up enforcement of existing laws and a local skateboarder has even offered to assist in designing safe, effective enforcement actions. These efforts would have been hindered, some seriously, by the proposed ban.
Commissioner Leonard has asked the council to reconvene on this issue at September 5th’s council meeting. If no improvements have been seen, he plans on proposing the ban once again.
For Portland skateboard users, Police, the Arlington Heights neighborhood, the Parks Department, the Bureau of Transportation, and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, that means now is the time to get to work. In the next few months, we do not expect to see a complete end to dangerous skateboarding (or bicycling or driving, for that matter). With some hard work, though, we hope to prove that education can play a lead role in behavior change and police can do their job without a ban. Safe streets are too important and Police resources are too tight for a solution that relies entirely on enforcement.