Action Sports in the City of Phoenix
"The Battle for Equal Access"
by Henry White
City of Phoenix Council Chambers: 02-22-18
February 20th I noticed a post on a social media site regarding the agenda proposed for the city of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board on the 22nd. I promptly shared the post and began investigating. After contacting the city and prodding a little, I was put in contact with Danielle Poveromo, Deputy Director of the Northeast Division of Parks and Recreation. Her task was to assess the current rule regarding Paradise Valley Skatepark only allowing skateboards. Our discussion was open, honest, and we both heard out each others perspectives.
By the end of the conversation my understanding was that her assesment had remained strictly relevant to scooters accessing the park. Between this and the time I spent doing my internship with the City of Phoenix in the South Division I came to the conclusion that bicycles weren't even on their radar, for anything. Knowing this Board meeting would be a great opportunity to get their attention, I went, listened, and made the argument that the issue is not only legitimate but much larger then just Scooters.
After the meeting my horizon was broadened once again when I was told by one of the co-owners of Cowtown- Trent, that he stayed after the meeting just to speak with me. Again, another great conversation that helped me see into the history of the Phoenix Action Sports community and how the idea of the 90's -"rise of Action Sports as a community" was demolished by the actions of one (then) prominent member of the BMX community. The negative actions and attitude toward the Parks and Recreation department immediately put a black mark on our sport creating the current neglect and battle for equal access.
Through these conversations, this meeting, my internship, education, and general life experience, I now understand that my approach to this issue needs to be shaken up. Why, because for the last 3 months I have loathed the work ahead and been at a stand still as I tried to figure out what needed to happen. Therefore I agree with many of the things said in the Council Chambers, particularly that Bicycles are a hazard at skateparks because we are faster, bigger, and have more points that can cause injury to others, Scooters face similar issues of equal access and being a hazard to all by going slow and catering to younger participants. Thus concluding, and skateboarders agree, WE ALL DESERVE OUR OWN SPACES.
Sure, we all enjoy public parks and the city changing the rules isn't going address the bigger picture, nor will it stop other devices from entering parks/plaza's no matter whom it's "specifically built" for. However acknowledging that the City of Phoenix, like many others, have inadequate facilities for participants in ALL Action Sports categories is an important step in moving forward. Not only do we all deserve our own spaces, we require spaces that provide equal access, integrating all non-motorized action sports cultures in an effort to bridge the relationships that have caused confiscation of equipment, ticketing, arrests, and assaults. Can we not agree that it's not about what device we use, rather that we all share a common goal of shredding the gnar?
It is apparent that the parks and recreation staff is far disconnected from the needs of the Action Sports community. Master planned large facilities with equal access and features for all to enjoy, are just as important as providing smaller satellite facilities that specialize in specific equipment, yet both are necessary to address the growth of these sports and the increasing issue of community health & wellness.
Ushering a new era of equal access, safety, and progression, I ask that companies and individuals help us in this movement through advocacy, donations, volunteering for programs, engaging your city, and participating in park builds.