Scooters are welcome at the Ann Arbor Skatepark.
When we set out on our mission to build the Ann Arbor Skatepark, we envisioned creating a welcoming place for the entire community. We're happy that we've mostly succeeded in that regard. Most warm days, the park is packed with skaters of all ages and genders. Groups of observers sit on blankets under the trees and lean against the fence along Dexter Ave., watching the action in the bowls. This is a strength of our skatepark; it's a visible, inviting location in a well-used city park. Families, especially, congregate under the trees and it's not uncommon for the younger members of those families to ride scooters. Skateboarding is an activity that requires a bit of natural ability and a lot of practice to gain the skills needed to fully enjoy the park. Scooters have a much lower barrier to entry, so they're popular among younger kids in particular.
Recently, there's been complaining among some skaters about scooters at the Ann Arbor Skatepark. We've had great support from a wide swath of the Ann Arbor community over the years, many of whom are now parents to scooter riders. We can't, and shouldn't, abandon those supporters and change the rules after two years of allowing kids on scooters to enjoy the skatepark. One of the missions of the Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark is to promote skateboarding. While it may seem that scooters fall outside this mission, scooters can be thought of as a gateway to skateboarding: some number of those kids on scooters will eventually get skateboards and continue their quests for fun on four wheels instead of two.
Parents: While the Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark welcome scooters to the skatepark, there are some common-sense safety rules and courteous practices to follow:
- The skatepark isn't daycare and it's not a playground. It's a highly-specialized place for practitioners to engage in specific activities. When you bring your young children, expect to be engaged with them, proactively directing them to safe areas. Also, kids without skateboards, inline skates, or scooters shouldn't run around and play in the concrete skating area when other skaters are around.
- When the skatepark is busy, it may not the best time for beginners to learn. Young children are quite unaware of what's happening around them, and when mixed with much larger skaters who are traveling at high speeds, the danger level increases dramatically for both your kids and the other skaters. Mornings tend to be the quietest times at the park and are the best times for young kids.
- Spend some time observing traffic patterns through the park before encouraging your young kids to congregate in any particular area. Areas that initally appear empty and safe may in fact be high-speed throughways.
- There are unwritten rules governing the skatepark. Even though it may seem chaotic and rule-free, there are systems for determining, for example, whose turn it is to drop-in to the bowls. These rules can be learned through observation or experience.
- If you aren't sure about something, ask one of the older skaters for advice. Many of the 30-and-over skaters are parents themselves and have the experience to help you and your kids make safe choices.
With a little bit of common sense and tolerance, we can all continue to make the Ann Arbor Skatepark the best park around!