ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — It’s a hard road uphill for skateboarders trying to kick and push towards being allowed in downtown Albany. Mayor Kathy Sheehan says she believes repealing Albany’s skateboarding ban puts other citizens in danger.
“We have seniors, we have moms and dads pushing strollers, people with mobility issues, and we need to keep our sidewalk safe,” Sheehan explains to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.
The Albany Common Council voted unanimously July 7 to repeal the 90s-era ban after hearing those speaking for and against skateboarders.
“I ask my fellow members to spread more kindness and let go of the fear and negativity escape borders as we are humans,” said Tatiana Gjergji, the executive director and founder of Noteworthy Resources which petitioned the council for the ordinance change.
“Chipping, scratching, staining and blacking from skateboards is undeniable and ugly. I have video of skateboarders applying black wax to monuments that they can slide better,” another local woman said during the public comment period.
Councilwoman Gabriella Romero proposed the repeal of Albany’s Article II on skateboards of the city code Chapter 255, Peace and Good Order. The repeal would have struck out the first two subsections of the skateboarding regulation that banned use on sidewalks, roads, parking lots, driveways, and courtyards in the area around Lark Street south of Madison Avenue on the west, Clinton Avenue on the north, Broadway on the east and Myrtle Avenue on the south. The ordinance had also limited use on basketball, tennis, and handball courts.
The only remaining element of the original ordinance that escaped the council’s repeal was the section banning skating on monuments and sculptures.
When asked about the mayor’s veto, Councilwoman Romero responded with a statement that says in part:
The current city code prohibits skateboarding East of Lark Street. This is Albany’s Downtown core. This law targets a specific section of our city, that as a whole is disproportionately composed of people of color. … This section of the city code is discriminatory and must be repealed. I have spoken to and gained support of constituents, walkability and multimodal transportation advocacy groups, and youth health, wellness, and skateboarding organizations. While some have raised valid concerns, I stand strong in my commitment to fight for legislation that makes everyone feel safe and welcome in our city. The most recent ordinance introduced by Councilmember Farrell will strengthen the existing city laws to prohibit all vehicles of
propulsion from being on all sidewalks unless the user is under 10-years old.
“I understand that skateboards are a form of transportation, and I believe skateboard should be allowed in our bike lanes. I believe skateboards should be permitted where bikes are permitted,” Sheehan responds. “What people are responding to is the fact that skateboarders continue to skate on monuments, to skateboard in residential areas, to use people’s front stoops for their videos that they record. That’s private property and of course people want to make sure their private property is protected.”
Sheehan says she believes a repeal without a new law to take its place is rushed. Her main issue she says is striking out this first part of the ordinance that bans skateboards on sidewalks. She says there’s no applicable state law to limit skateboarders or cyclists to bike and traffic lanes, so the public should weigh in on how to share their space downtown.
“Common Council needs to actually take the time to hold public meetings about this. Meet with residents, to meet with neighborhood associations leaders and craft some thing that is going to be responsive to the residents who live here,” she says.