Wait, that’s illegal?

Skateboarding on public sidewalks illegal in this Maine city

More stories from Julia Van Allen

Seeking Solace
May 13, 2019

UW-Eau Claire is a pretty skateboard- and longboard-friendly campus, with winding sidewalks and sloping hills. It seems like you can’t walk two feet without seeing at least one person riding or carrying a skateboard or longboard. It’s a simple fact of life here, you need to watch out for people on wheels who may be careening your way. But in other areas of the country riding skateboards on sidewalks is straight-up illegal.

In the state of Maine lies the city of Biddeford, where riding skateboards on sidewalks is strictly prohibited. According to the City of Biddeford, ME Code Section 62-58, “(a) No person shall ride a bicycle upon any public sidewalk in the City. No person shall skate on any sidewalk in the City. (b)  Whoever violates or fails to comply with any of the provisions of this section may be punished by a fine of not more than $10.”

In the city of Biddeford, riding skateboards on sidewalks is illegal. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it.

Now, if you’re like me, you’re wondering why this is so. It seems in Eau Claire that skateboards on sidewalks is as common as ducks in the Little Niagara. The state of Wisconsin allows for the riding of skateboards on sidewalks, so it may seem strange to imagine living in an area where it is totally illegal.

For college students and hipsters alike, skateboards and longboards provide the needed mobility to get around the city with the “cool” factor that everyone secretly craves. And criminalizing that just feels like a tragedy.

The letter of the law itself is straightforward, no one is to ride skateboards on public sidewalks, but that begs the question as to where people are supposed to ride them. Surely, in my mind, riding them in the street sounds super dangerous, but what other options would people who use skateboards as modes of transportation have?

What I found particularly silly about this law is the fine for breaking this law. $10. That’s it?

While I do understand the need to  have some sort of punishment or fine in place for breaking the law, this one seems just silly in all accounts. If someone was to be caught riding a skateboard on a public sidewalk they would be fined $10? Would they be able to pay that fine right then and there with a crisp $10 bill, or would they have to send in a check?

All jokes aside, this law doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Realistically, I know it is probably in place to protect pedestrians from miscellaneous hooligans on wheels, but doesn’t it concurrently place those people on wheels in danger of people in much larger vehicles on wheels? Does this city have designated bike and skateboard lanes in their streets? Do the drivers in Maine respect those potential bike and skateboard lanes? I do not know, and frankly I’m worried.

Are the skateboarders in Biddeford okay? This random midwesterner needs to know.

Van Allen can be reached at [email protected]