Skateboards don't pollute and don't take up parking spaces. But if Charleston is to enjoy their benefits, it will have to adopt some skateboard regulations. City Council is about to consider doing that.
Skateboards are an inexpensive way for people - primarily students - to navigate the city. But without some rules, they can be a hazard to pedestrians, motorists and themselves.
The regulations that the city's Traffic and Tourism Committee will recommend to Council would make a good start.
For example, some streets simply are not appropriate for skateboards.
Take King Street. It is busy with pedestrians with their minds on shopping, trucks double-parked to make deliveries and motorists trying to stay on their side of the very narrow street.
Add skateboards to the mix and the problems multiply.
For the past year, the city has banned skateboards on King Street, and the results have been encouraging.
The regulations Council will consider name other such streets where skateboards would be off-limits, mostly streets that are too busy (like East Bay, Calhoun, Meeting and Broad) or congested (like the area round the Medical University of South Carolina).
In addition, skateboarders will be required to follow some common-sense rules. They would be prohibited from riding while barefoot or while using a cellphone.
They must not ride after or while consuming alcohol, and they must use reflective lights or clothing if necessary to be visible.
Police can issue citations of at least $50 plus court costs, which can drive the cost up to $113. But they have issued only about 60. Their intent is reasonable: to make skateboarders aware of the rules first - particularly as semesters begin at the College of Charleston.
But they will also have to write some tickets if they want people to pay attention - not just to these rules but to the rules of the road.
Skateboarders (and bicyclists, for that matter) often go the wrong way on one-way streets. Or ride on sidewalks, putting pedestrians at risk. Or stop motorists' hearts by weaving in and out of traffic.
Some people wanted to ban skateboards from city streets altogether.
These sensible rules are a better alternative. If Charleston is really to be accessible to different forms of transportation, skateboards should be among them.
But it's important that they are required to follow rules - just as motorists and bicyclists are.
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