San Francisco Skateboarding Laws


To: Members of the Skateboarding Task Force, Regulations Committee

From: Adam Van de Water, Office of the Legislative Analyst

Date: July 7, 2003

RE: State and Local Skateboarding Laws

Below are state and local laws that specifically govern skateboard riding and use in San Francisco.

California State law

1. Allows transit boards, public agencies, and local authorities to adopt rules or regulations to restrict, or specify the conditions for, the use of skateboards on public property under the jurisdiction of that agency. (CA Vehicle Code §21113 and §21967. CA Penal Code §640 sets maximum allowable fines for violation of these restrictions at $250/violation). [see a) through d) below]

2. Prohibits motorized skateboards on streets, sidewalks, "or any other part of a highway or on any bikeway, bicycle path or trail, equestrian trail, or hiking or recreational trail." (CA Vehicle Code §21968. Interestingly, California passed SB441 in October 1999 allowing motorized scooters on public roadways under certain conditions1.)

3. Requires skateboarders under the age of 18 to wear a helmet on any street, bikeway, or other public bicycle path or trail and establishes a fine of $25/violation (CA Vehicle Code §21212. Also applies to roller and in-line skates, bicycles, and non-motorized scooters).

4. Requires riders wear a helmet, kneepads, and elbow pads at designated skate parks. (CA Health and Safety Code §115800) [see d) below]

San Francisco City and County law

a) Prohibits skateboarding on any city street at any time, on any sidewalk in any business district at any time, and on any non-business district sidewalk commencing 30 minutes after sunset and ending 30 minutes before sunrise (Traffic Code, Section 100)

b) Prohibits skateboarding "in or about any public transit station (including an outdoor high-level boarding platform), streetcar, cable car, motor coach, trolley coach or other public transit vehicle, including, but not limited to, those stations or vehicles operated by the Bay Area Rapid Transit District" (Traffic Code, Section 128)

c) Prohibits skateboarding in Yerba Buena Gardens, the Japanese Tea Garden, the Arboretum, Conservatory Valley, where it is posted as prohibited, and in South Beach Park or Rincon Park unless otherwise permitted (Park Code Sections 3.05 and 11.02 and Port Code Sections 2.4 and 7.2).

d) Requires skateboarders at skating facilities owned or operated by the City and County to wear helmets, kneepads, and elbow pads (Park Code Section 4.17).

Possible Action Item

Seek a sponsor on the Board of Supervisors to introduce an ordinance amending San Francisco Traffic Code Section 100, possibly modeled on Portland, OR's December 2000 ordinance (attached).

1 Must be > 16 yrs, wear a helmet, must stay in bike lanes or on the right side of the road, may not ride on sidewalks, scooter speed limit = 15, may not ride on roads with speed limits > 25mph, lights/reflectors required after dark.