Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Helmets: Wear one and show some gratitude

The issue of wearing helmets at Tobey skate park has been in the news a lot these days. You can read about the ensuing incidents in the Flyer, CA  or see it on Channel 5 or ABC24.  Basically a number of skaters have been ignoring the mandatory helmet rule and as a result several news stories have been aired, covering the consequences of skaters not observing that rule. As of yesterday, that rule is now a law since the Helmet law/ordinance passed unanimously in last night’s City Council meeting. Users of all ages are required to wear helmets or risk receiving a $50.00 citation ( Check out the Flyer story).

Three days after the park opened, a skater seriously injures his head and the news was all over that story. Thankfully he’s going to be ok. Then several news stations and local papers covered another helmet-related incident which involved the handcuffing of a 12 year old skater.  I don’t want to get into the details and the nuances surrounding the circumstances that led up to these events. Rather, let’s just say these events would not have happened if users were wearing their helmets. Period.

Perspective and history

As a skate park advocate that has been working on getting a skate park for our City, I find the disregard of the posted rules very disappointing. The City spent well over $500,000 for this incredible park to be built and how do a number of skaters thank the City? They give them the collective finger by blowing off the rules and next thing you know we’re in the media looking like a bunch of spoiled ungrateful brats.

On the other hand I am not surprised. As a friend of mine pointed out, gratitude is an elusive character quality that takes years to cultivate. Few of us have it in our younger years.    Many skaters have no idea of how much time an effort went into getting this park so showing gratitude is low on the priority list- especially if being grateful means looking “uncool” to your friends or “limits your ability to creatively express yourself.”

It’s also important to keep in mind that the helmet rule is not enforced in any of the local area skate parks so what we have is a younger generation,  perhaps two generations of skaters that have grown up not wearing helmets.  Even within most California skate parks, which also have similar helmet ordinances, you will find the majority of users without helmets. 

I am encouraged to see a number of skaters that are wearing helmets, especially the younger kids and older skaters that have been involved with taking the Tobey skate park project to fruition. 

I hope that City is able to get users to wear their helmets, it's for their own good mind you, but based on what I have seen in most parks, it will be an uphill battle.  

In the meantime, Skatelife will continue to slowly change the skate culture’s attitude towards wearing helmets as we work with teaching skateboarding to kids and their families at the park on Saturdays.  One day, I hope, the next generation of skateboarders will see wearing a helmet no differently than wearing their seat-belts. 

In the meantime wear helmet at the park and show some gratitude to our City. After all they made us an awesome first rate skate park!

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