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A technical reference bulletin by the Risk Control Services

Department of the Glatfelter Insurance Group

RISK COMMUNIQU
A

Skate Park Design and Management

Reducing the number of skateboarders on the road and providing a safe place to skateboard can enhance the
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safety of both the skateboarder and the motorist. In 2006, there were over 11 million skateboarders and, on
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average, one person was killed per week while skateboarding . Of those deaths, 40 happened outside of
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skateparks . According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 54,500 people need
hospital emergency room treatment each year for injuries from skateboarding. Skateboard parks should be
designed and constructed to help prevent the risk of injury to skateboarders and also to protect spectators.

When a community is considering adding a skate park as a recreational option there are three main issues to
consider:
1. Construction location, design and materials.
2. Municipal responsibility for park operations.
3. Guidelines for personal safety for users.

Engineering and Design

Designer/Architect
Before committing a design to construction, it is important to select an architect and engineering firm with
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recreational design experience. A professional designer will suggest a range of design solutions , multiple choices
of skate park manufacturers, and various types of facilities.

Area/Location Considerations
Planners who are considering the size of the skate park should estimate the number of users that are anticipated
and check local and state guidelines for square footage requirements. An area roughly the size of a tennis court, is
capable of accommodating 45 users at one time. With regard to community noise, planners may want to consider
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constructing the park at least 150 yards away from residential areas .

When determining the location for the facility, municipalities can consider construction in areas underutilized by
the public, such as seldom-used parking lots or tennis courts. These areas may already have the prerequisite public
facilities that may be used in a skate park, such as drinking fountains, restrooms, lighting and first aid.
Transforming an existing underutilized facility into a skate park can be advantageous, as the location is already
known to public authorities and EMS personnel. An area such as a tennis court or parking lot may already have the
fencing and hard, flat surfacing required before construction. Planners should keep in mind that pre-existing
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fencing may need to be modified so EMS vehicles can access the park .

This is a sample guideline furnished to you by Glatfelter Public Practice. Your organization should review it and make the necessary modifications
to meet the needs of your organization. The intent of this guideline is to assist you in reducing risk exposure to the public, personnel and
property. For additional information on this topic, you may contact your GPP Risk Control Representative. www.glatfelterpublicpractice.com

2013 GPP. All Rights Reserved


A technical reference bulletin by the Risk Control Services
Department of the Glatfelter Insurance Group

RISK COMMUNIQU
A

Skate Park Design


Skate park planners are encouraged to avoid park layouts that create cross-patterns and restrict the flow of traffic
through the park. Cross-patterns occur when users cross each others path while attempting to move from
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obstacle to obstacle . Planners should allow at least ten feet of flat bottom (smooth flat concrete or asphalt)
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between obstacles to reduce the number of potential collisions and allow for more users simultaneously .
Walls that are in opposition to each other can create hazards, as riders may use a wall to perform stunts, and they
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run the risk of serious injury if they collide into an opposing wall . As for inclined surfaces, there are two designs
that are common: a radius curve, as in the bottom of an in-ground pool, and/or a flat bevel, as in a drainage ditch
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but at an incline not to exceed 50 degrees . A licensed architect with experience in the construction of skate parks
can incorporate the limits of what a user is capable of. The designer should also recommend segregation amongst
the obstacles so as to separate the novices from the more experienced riders.

Incorporating fencing into the design can serve as a check against loiterers, animals and those who may seek entry
into the park after hours. Fencing also keeps the park self-contained and prevents a loose skateboard from
escaping the area. It is beneficial to have a partition installed to separate the participants from the spectators.
Proper lighting is also another necessary feature for a skate park. Aside from making the park available for use
after daylight hours, it allows authorities to monitor the park after it has been closed.

Construction Materials
The type of material that is going to be used to construct the skate park, whether it be concrete, asphalt, wood or
metal, depends on the communitys situation. If planners intend to use a pre-existing site for the location of the
skate park, such as a parking lot or tennis court, it is a good idea to refinish the area with a thin, hard polyethylene
shell, such as that used in treating tennis courts. This provides a smooth surface for the users of the skate park. If
feasible, it may be advisable to invite experienced riders to test out the surface; skilled skateboarders may be able
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to detect surface inconsistencies .

If planners are reconstructing an existing site, or building the park from scratch, the question then becomes
whether to build the park using concrete or asphalt. Concrete is the most popular choice, as it is preferred by most
skaters. It is smooth, and riders will be able to maneuver and carry speed easily. The downside of concrete is cost
and maintenance. For northern climates, asphalt maybe a better material than concrete since it is better suited to
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withstand winter weather .

For the construction of the obstacles, the popular choice is concrete. For pre-existing sites, modular obstacles
composed of wood and steel designed with safety features are accepted by users; however, there are caveats to
be considered. Obstacles made of wood or steel will require more frequent maintenance than concrete, as these
materials are more directly affected by varying weather conditions. Wood will warp, and metals will rust. Concrete
will also require maintenance; however, it will require it less frequently. If wood and metal structures are chosen
over concrete, it would be advisable to perform inspection and maintenance more frequently than would be
required for concrete. Its important to note that any maintenance schedule should be included in the initial
budgeting.

This is a sample guideline furnished to you by Glatfelter Public Practice. Your organization should review it and make the necessary modifications
to meet the needs of your organization. The intent of this guideline is to assist you in reducing risk exposure to the public, personnel and
property. For additional information on this topic, you may contact your GPP Risk Control Representative. www.glatfelterpublicpractice.com

2013 GPP. All Rights Reserved


A technical reference bulletin by the Risk Control Services
Department of the Glatfelter Insurance Group

RISK COMMUNIQU
A

Administrative Responsibilities
Supervised versus Unsupervised
The level of responsibility goes hand in hand with the level of supervision applied to the skate park. Before
deciding whether to leave the park unsupervised or to assign supervision, consult with legal counsel. Depending on
the state and jurisdiction, there may be advantages to supervision, or alternatively, an unsupervised facility with
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adequate signage may be preferable .
If planners decide on providing supervision, the question then becomes whether it should be paid or volunteer.
Again, consulting with legal counsel is prudent. Planners may want to decide the level of first-aid training
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supervising personnel ought to have and to what extent they are permitted to exercise it .
Age Limits and Liability Releases
Planners may suggest age limits and require liability waivers to be signed before allowing users entrance into the
facility. Some skate parks require a minimum age of 8 years before the skater is allowed to use the facility while
others require a minimum age of 12 years. Some parks may also require that the participants parent or guardian
complete a liability waiver if the skater is under the age of 18. Consulting with legal counsel is prudent.
Maintenance
Future funding in the annual budget is important for regular maintenance and inspections of the facility.
Additionally, a few areas that managers may want to include as part of the skate parks inspection and
maintenance include keeping the:
area free of glass & debris
lighting at an adequate level
gate lock fully functional and locked after hours
corners and edges of ramps and obstacles well padded (6 inches of padding)
obstacles and ramp surfaces free of protruding nails or screws
park structures (ramps & obstacles) in good condition; inspect for warping, cracking,
chipping, rust and graffiti
concrete or asphalt free of cracks
Safety
Personal Safety
Planners and/or supervisors of the facility should require all users to use proper protective equipment before
entering the active areas of the facility. This includes helmets, knee pads and elbow pads. One of the debatable
questions, however, is whether or not the facility should have required gear on hand for rental or if users should
provide their own. Having safety gear for rental is convenient, but can increase the liability. Requiring users to
provide their own equipment can reduce this liability, yet violators of this requirement could become a problem if
the park is unsupervised. Whether supervised or not, the requirements for personal protective equipment should
be incorporated into the safety signage provided at the skate park. For additional information on skate park safety
signage, refer to the Skate Park Safety Communiqu.
References:
1. IASC Nov/Dec 08 Newsletter. International Association of Skateboard Companies. November December 2008 (2008) PDF file.
2. Report: Skateboard Fatalities for 2006. Skaters for Public Skateparks. June 2007 2/19/2010
<http://www.skatepark.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=7364&p=73109&hilit=2006+report#p73109>
3. Dunlap, Cindy. SKATE PARKS: A Practical Guide to Planning and Development. Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural
Resources. October 2003. 11/29/2006 < http://carrollcitizens.com/files/SkatePark.pdf.>.
4. Anthony Gembeck. Skatepark Design - Listen to the Skaters! Skatepark guide. 2006. 11/29/2006
<http://www.skateparkguide.com/Design.htm#Design>.
This is a sample guideline furnished to you by Glatfelter Public Practice. Your organization should review it and make the necessary modifications
to meet the needs of your organization. The intent of this guideline is to assist you in reducing risk exposure to the public, personnel and
property. For additional information on this topic, you may contact your GPP Risk Control Representative. www.glatfelterpublicpractice.com

2013 GPP. All Rights Reserved