Police remind students about skateboarding laws

By Ardee Napolitano

As the weather continues to get warmer in Amherst, more and more residents are cruising on their longboards or skateboards all over town.

Collegian File Photo

Consequently, the Amherst Police Department reminded residents about the town’s policies regarding skateboarding, especially in downtown.

“People cannot skateboard on sidewalks,” APD Capt. Christopher Pronovost said.

The recent increased concern about the common activity was brought about by a recent incident on March 8 when a skateboarder almost hit a senior citizen who was walking on the sidewalk near Bangs Community Center, according to an article in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

According to Amherst’s town bylaws, people are not allowed to “coast, ride upon or otherwise operate” skateboards or rollerblades in any town sidewalks.

Violators can be charged with a $20 fine.

In addition, Pronovost said that technically, skateboarders are only allowed to skate on their “own private property or in one of the town’s skateboard parks.”

There is one skateboard park on East Pleasant Street near Kendrick Park, he said.

University of Massachusetts sophomore Matthew Ashe said that although he had been riding his skateboard around town “all the time,” he didn’t know about the park before.

Ashe also said that he did not know that skateboarding on sidewalks in Amherst was prohibited, as he rides in downtown Amherst frequently.

“I don’t really know how we would know about it,” he said.

Ashe said that skateboarders often hang out in front of Haigis Mall and Southwest Residential Area, and along downtown Amherst’s Main Street. There are only a few – if any – signs about skateboarding policies in these places, he said.

“I pretty much skate wherever I want,” he said.

Although he has friends who have been fined by the police in the past, Ashe said that he has been cooperative with the police whenever they ask him to stop skateboarding in various places in town.

Ashe also said that the risk of skateboarding accidents in Amherst increase because people are not aware of the specific place where they are actually allowed to ride their skateboards.

“There would be a lot less incidents if there were a skate park in Amherst that skaters knew about,” he said.

Pronovost admitted that the lack of skateboard parks in the town is one of the main causes of accidents, although he also said building more parks would not necessarily solve the problem.

“[Skateboarders] are looking for something much better, and they think that it is more challenging where it is not permitted,” he said.

Pronovost noted that there have been few skateboarding accidents in Amherst recently, and that violations of skateboarding policies are “pretty isolated,” and “not one of the town’s big problems.”

Ardee Napolitano can be reached at [email protected]