Wheel park Myths

7 months ago

Council has investigated the common concerns that communities raise when wheel parks are being considered in their area and would like to share with you this information that is based on research and lessons learnt from other similar parks in Australia*.

"Wheel parks are noisy - you hear people cheering and clapping and the clack of the skateboard wheels against concrete and metal surfaces"

A wheel park noise study conducted by the City of Portland*, Oregon in 2001 concluded that skateboarding noise was negligible at a distance 15 m from the park, with the sounds from some tricks reaching 54-71 decibels (60 decibels is equivalent to a busy general office, and 70 is equivalent to a passenger car driving by at 60 km/h*). In general, the study identified that a wheel park is about as noisy as a playground.

By locating a wheel park in a space that is not immediately adjacent to houses and designing the park with some surrounding vegetation, any noise will be reduced. At wheel parks located near arterial roads, the traffic noise is likely to be a lot louder than the noises that the wheel park generates.

"Wheel parks encourage graffiti and litter"

Graffiti can be an issue in any location - on signs, street furniture, playgrounds, fences, buildings and at wheel parks. Establishing a zero tolerance policy towards graffiti as soon as a wheel park opens is the best way to ensure that the park remains clean. Locating a wheel park in an area with plenty of passive surveillance can help to reduce this behaviour, while removing graffiti as soon as it appears denies vandals a showcase of their work.

"There will be more traffic and parking issues if a wheel park is built near me"

The majority of wheel park users make their way to a wheel park by riding there on their bikes, scooters or skateboards, or by using public transport. Some people will drive, especially parents accompanying their child at the park.

For this reason, a key criteria for a suitable site is the availability of nearby car parking that will have minimal impact on residents. There will be a higher amount of traffic during school holidays and when competitions and events are held at the wheel park. However, this is no different to any sporting match which can generate a high number of cars parking in the area, or a popular playground.

"Wheel parks encourage antisocial behaviour like vandalism, drinking, drugs and swearing"

Providing a designated space for positive activities is the best way to curb unlawful behaviour among youth. Active adolescents are less likely to engage in risky behaviour such as smoking and drinking. The Tony Hawk Foundation* supports this: 'A skate park full of kids who are there to skate is a skate park full of kids not getting stoned... Skaters are there for a reason, and are generally very good at policing each other about behaviour that interferes with their enjoyment the park... Skate parks where the skaters have trouble with non-skating drug users and delinquents showing up are typically located in secluded areas, where causal supervision is infrequent or doesn't exist. It's an unfortunate situation, but it's one that the skaters suffer from, rather than create themselves.'

Designing a wheel park that is suitable for all ages and has family friendly amenities, as well as passive surveillance, can assist the space to be welcoming for all. A wheel park in the City of Playford* engaged a group of volunteers aged 12 - 22 to promote volunteering, mentoring peers and running skate workshops. Since the program's inception in 2008 there has been a steady decline in anti-social behaviour and violence at the wheel park.

***Passive surveillance occurs when the park is visible to passing traffic, pedestrians, residents, other park users.***

"What if you build a wheel park and no one uses it?"

It is intended that the design of a wheel park will be created by expert wheel park designers with the assistance of skaters and local youth.

There are four locations that are the most suitable in our City and, should a wheel park proceed, consultation on these locations will involve everyone in the community, with youth encouraged to have their say.

"Wheel parks are dangerous and children can get injured"

Injuries occur in every sport and on playgrounds. Using a wheel park should be viewed as another similar activity. A report from NSW* demonstrated that falls from playgrounds resulting in hospitalisation are far greater in numbers than falls involving ice skates, skis, roller skates, skateboards and scooters.

Advocates for wheel parks argue that 'If your city doesn't have a skate park, your city is a skate park'* and that the availability of a place to skate or scooter will reduce death or injury to skaters. In 2011 in the US*, 42 skateboarders died, with 71 per cent of the deaths involving or being directly caused by a vehicle. In 2014 28 skateboarders died, with 82 per cent hit by cars. A good way to keep injuries down is to provide safe, designated spaces to pursue skating and scooter riding, rather than forcing skaters to the streets.

Consultation has concluded