Waivers? Skateboard nation don't need no stinkin' waivers. They want freedom from park fees and traffic tickets. "We are off to a great start but still have a long way to go yet," says Tim Payne, an organizer for Free Florida Skateparks, a group trying to change state law.
Under a Florida traffic statute, skateboarders can be ticketed for riding on some public streets, mostly in downtown areas. Most public skateparks are fenced and many charge fees. For minors, a waiver signed by parents is required by cities and counties, presumably to avoid lawsuits. Free Florida Skateparks is trying to change all that, taking a petition to Tallahassee to move lawmakers.
The skateboard petition says "A skater can fall down in front of City Hall and file a lawsuit just as easily as when skating inside any public skatepark -- which, by the way, has been proven to be just as safe as most any other recreational activity. Check out the national sports injury statistics."
In February, a Senate bill by David Simmons (R) of Altamonte Springs cleared the Judiciary Committee and a House bill by Rep. Julio Gonzalez (R) of Sarasota was OK'd in Local Government Affairs. The bills carve out recreational restrictions on skateboarding, stunt biking and inline skating from a law adopted in the 1980s and frees cities and counties from waiver requirements.
As for thrills vs. spills, Gonzalez is chairman of Florida's Orthopaedic Society Board of Directors.
A Facebook page for Free Florida Skateparks is gaining speed. "The bill is common sense and simple," said Chuck Dinkins, a lead organizer.
On Saturday, the boarding faithful turned out on an overcast day at the Bradenton Riverwalk Skatepark to encourage dozens of skateboarders in a national competition. The six-city Boardr Am Series sends winners to compete in the X Games.