Using a skateboard as your main form of transportation can be a tricky prospect.
In most jurisdictions, when you’re on your board, you’re considered a pedestrian.
That means, technically, you should stay out of the street as much as possible.
But there are also places where skateboarding on sidewalks and in public squares is forbidden (and where you can be ticketed for doing it).
So, where are you supposed to go when you’re not supposed to skate in the street OR on the sidewalk?
Is it ever legal to ride a skateboard on the street?
The answer is Yes, actually. Skateboarding in the street is legal much of the time. But it is dependent on local laws.
Is it illegal to skateboard in the street?
Whether or not riding a skateboard in the street is illegal depends entirely on where you are, but MOST of the time street skating is LEGAL.
As stated above, in most municipalities (at least in the U.S.) skateboarders are considered pedestrians.
This makes it legal for skaters to be anywhere pedestrians can legally be, including sidewalks, public squares, and on recreational paths.
(As a skater, you surely know this doesn’t always hold true in practice. You can be rolling along, perfectly Zen in your cruising, and suddenly see the dreaded “No Skateboarding” sign loom ahead.
But that’s another article.)
Despite jay-walking laws, as a pedestrian you are also legally allowed to be in the street in many instances (in most municipalities).
Though, not always.
So, unless there’s an express law against skating, or being a pedestrian in the street, it’s most likely legal.
Check Your Local Skateboarding Laws
To be on the safe side of the law when skateboarding in the street, you should check your local ordinances.
Plenty of municipalities have laws against street skating on their books, and many more have laws against skating in the street in specific areas (typically downtowns or highly-trafficked commercial areas) or under specific conditions.
Many municipal codes also have vague laws against pedestrians being in the street when sidewalks are provided, and, as a skater, these laws may apply to you.
To keep legal, check the local laws wherever you skate.
Then, you’ll know exactly where and when street skating is permitted (and when it isn’t).
Street Skateboarding Rules
When you skateboard in the street, you are subject to the same rules of the road as bicycles and vehicles.
So, even if skating on the street is legal, it doesn’t mean how you’re doing it is necessarily legal.
Performing tricks in the street, for instance, is almost always illegal.
As is holding onto cars.
Bicyclists aren’t allowed to do it, motorcyclists aren’t allowed to do it, and neither are skaters.
If you’re riding your skateboard in the street, you’d better be doing just that – riding – because anything else is likely against the law no matter where you are.
Can skateboarders use bike lanes?
Most of the time, yes, if you can legally ride in the street, you can legally use the bike lane.
In fact, many municipalities have laws about bikes and pedestrians staying as close to the side of the rode as possible if they must be in the street.
So, in some instances, riding in the bike lane may be the only way to obey the law.
It may not make you popular with cyclists, but if you’re legally allowed to ride in the street, you’re probably allowed to ride in the bike lane.
Skateboarding In The Street Is Legal (Most of The Time)
Unless there is a local law against it, there is nothing to stop you from skateboarding in the street.
Just be diligent when looking through your local laws. Remember, any law that applies to pedestrians likely applies to you as well.
So, if the law specifically says pedestrians aren’t allowed in the street, you may not be either.
Other than that, just be smart when you skate in the street.
To skate safely on the road:
- Keep an eye on traffic the same way you would in a vehicle or on a bicycle. Be aware of what’s going on in front of and behind you.
- Stay to the side of the road so you don’t impede traffic.
- Follow traffic laws as necessary. (You don’t have to adhere to them fully. You’re still a pedestrian, remember? But, if other traffic is stopped, you should heed the example.)
- Yield to vehicles and bicycles when in doubt (just as a pedestrian would).
By following these simple rules and checking out your local laws, you should be able to stay safe and legal while skateboarding in the street.
Just save the kickflips and ollies for the skatepark.