‘Inline Skating Vancouver & "The Law"
By Lorne Milne

“……Once upon a time (during the early 90’s) amidst the infancy of  Inline Skating a Great Fear grew through the Land…..BLADE-A-PHOBIA!!!!   Anxiety bloomed as ‘Newbie Bladers’ (lesson-free) rolled upon the pavement.  Dismay grew with many town officials who feared collisions and injuries on public lands!”        This resulted in:

  • Skate Bans springing up in many cities in North America
  • Portland (one of blading’s early hot spots) quickly passed a by-law against using inline skates downtown (as did Victoria)
  • Other cities were following suit and even sports-minded  Vancouver caught the infectious disease of ‘Blade-a-Phobia’
  • A Ban was passed in the early 90’s by the Vancouver Parks Board against Blading in Stanley Park (which was seeing about 15-20 bladers an hour (on a very busy day)
  • UBC & Seymour Demonstration Forest were on the verge of passing similar bans.

“……Coming to the rescue, the IISA (International Inline-Skating Association) Certified Inline Skate Instructors rallied together a form a volunteer organization (across North America and Hawaii) , the NSP (National Skate Patrol)  which tackled the problem by pulling together a group of uniformed intermediate bladers ‘roll-model’ safe and courteous blading, handing out the occasional ‘survival tips’  giving first aid to new bladers, and advocating to communities to lift bans and to develop safer blading pathways”.
Since that time Inline Skating flourished (with over 700 skaters an hour in Stanley Park on a busy day at the beginning of the millennium) and bans have been lifted across North America.  Stanley Park, UBC, and Seymour Forest remain ‘ban free’.   Portland has lifted their downtown ban.  Victoria stopped enforcing theirs.  New York lifted their law and the only portion that remains requires that children must wear a helmet.   Pathways have been set up specifically for human-powered wheels (or specifically for pedestrians) in most locations and inline skaters are expected to behave like bicycles on roadways (obeying stop signs, speed limits, giving turn signals, and blading in a safe manner).
In fact, blading is so mainstream today that Ft. Lauderdale and Paris have  had their police on blades.   Philadelphia has also experimented with them. For large crowds and downtown or waterfront settings they have found blades (the ones with the quick-release frames and wheels that Rossignol, Hypno and Roller-blade produced) are very handy.
However a few exceptions still exist!!   West Vancouver, BC still has a ban on blading on their seawall,….as does White Rock, BC on Johnson Street (one of their main streets).  
As to Vancouver, the City Hall & Parks Board have been great responding to the Skate Patrol’s recommendations for new Pathways.  The local police have been terrific as well and have not harassed bladers.  Often questions arose about the old by-law that was occasionally utilized to confiscate skateboards (of the skateboarders who might be damaging public property while ‘grinding’ a rail or curb, or boarding dangerously through the city.   The old Vancouver City by-law #77 stated: No person shall coast or slide with sleds, skis, skates, skateboard or other apparatus on any street, lane, or other public place; provided, however that the Council may declare any street, lane or other public place closed to all other traffic for the purpose of permitting coasting with sleds, skis, skates, skateboard or other apparatus theron; and the Chief Constable may make such provision for prohibiting such other traffic and with the assistance of the City Engineer may make such provision for protecting such persons using such streets; lanes; or public places as aforesaid for the purpose of enabling such coasting and sledding to be carried on with safety.   That bylaw also goes on to elaborate that a  SLED or SKATEBOARD can be seized by a police officer.
       The IISA’s stance on the use of inline skating was that it did not involve COASTING!    In fact, instructors teach STRIDING (the combination of STROKING & GLIDING) which is a technique for speed creation and control.  A COASTING apparatus is a device that has no propulsion, directional or braking control (like a toboggan).    As INLINE SKATES are: a patented invention (distinctly different from roller-skates or ice skates) that are specifically designed for use on roads and paths;  highly steerable and maneuver as well as walking; have controlled acceleration; & are equipped with brakes like bicycles, as well as being stoppable through wheel drags, wheel slides, and curls; this by-law did not apply (although inline skaters should follow the laws of safe driving or biking).   Furthermore  experience inline skaters and skateboarders now have as much skill to utilize the boards as pedestrians due for the use of shoes.
      Finally under the mayoralty of Larry Campbell the City of Vancouver repealed the old by-law and inline skaters and skateboarders 'lived-happily-ever-after' throughout the city!   So,  when you’re out there on your blades, roll safely following P.A.L.S. wisdom ( blade Politely; blade Alert, blade Legal, and blade Smart).  
      If you’re a beginner inline-skater (or a more advance skater who needs to improve their skills) phone Lorne Milne of LMBladeskool for lessons.

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