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Council decriminalizes skateboarding on city streets and sidewalks

Cincinnati City Council voted Wednesday to decriminalize skateboarding on streets and sidewalks. The change will take effect in 30 days.

Skateboarding is currently prohibited on all streets, and on sidewalks where a building abuts the pavement. Municipal code doesn't address things like roller blading or skating.

The ordinance legalizes coasting devices like skateboards and roller skates on sidewalks, with some rules about yielding to pedestrians and not going too fast.

Council Member Reggie Harris says skating in the street would still be prohibited, but would no longer be a criminal offense.

"It will remove skateboarding from the traffic code and the violations are heard at the city's office administration hearings, not court," Harris said in committee Monday. "It eliminates the possibility of jail time and reduces the fine."

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The ordinance covers "coasting devices" including skateboards, roller skates, roller blades, and scooters. It specifically does not apply to bicycles, e-scooters, or motorized mobility devices like motorized wheelchairs.

Using a coasting device on sidewalks will be allowed as long as the person follows certain guidelines:

  • must give audible warnings of approach to any person lawfully using the sidewalk
  • yield use of the sidewalk to pedestrians, or dismount if necessary
  • operate the device safely, at a "reasonable and prudent speed while exercising reasonable and ordinary control," and not "in a weaving or zigzagging course" unless necessary for safety or it is in compliance with the law.

Skating in the street or violating the rules for skating on the sidewalk will be a Class A civil offense, the same level as not shoveling your sidewalk after it snows, or not picking up after your dog. A first offense carries a $75 fine.

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Council Member Mark Jeffreys says Council wants many forms of transportation to be accessible.

"And today we’ve just thrown up a lot of barriers for people to use a skateboard in the city, and this removes some of those barriers," Jeffreys said.

In last year's city budget, Council approved $250,000 to go toward building a skate park in Camp Washington.

Updated: May 15, 2024 at 3:07 PM EDT
This article was originally published May 13 and was updated after City Council's final vote on May 15.
Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.