Eugene might legalize skateboards on streets

EUGENE, Ore. — The idea of allowing skateboarders to use bike lanes on city streets will get a public airing in Eugene next week.

The city code makes it illegal for skateboarders to ride on city streets, except to cross them.

But some advocates say boarding is about more than tricks these days, and a city advisory committee wants to hear from the public about allowing them in bike lanes.

“This is about making skateboarding a more viable transportation option,” Lee Shoemaker, the city’s bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, told The Register-Guard. “It’s to give people another choice.”

If the idea survives, it could be before the City Council next year, Shoemaker said.

A public meeting Monday about the proposal will come five days after a skateboarder was severely injured in a collision with a car south of the University of Oregon.

Eugene police have safety concerns, Lt. Doug Mozan said.

Skateboards can be difficult to stop or turn, which can present hazards for skateboard riders and motorists, and tumbles in the street are more dangerous than on sidewalks, he said.

On the other side of the question is Benson Ka’ai, 28, who said he’s been skateboarding for nearly half his life.

He said he would be comfortable skateboarding in a bike lane, but some might not.

“People are going to do what they feel most comfortable with,” Ka’ai said.

The public meeting Monday will concern two other street safety issues.

One would expand the downtown area where bikes and skateboards are banned on sidewalks.

The other would permit electric-motor-assisted bicycles on off-street bike paths.

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