Nicoyan boarders and BMX'ers take a minute to have their portraits made at a local skate spot, from left: Marcos, Henry The Rasta,
Elias Benavides, Maikol, and Yosef.
Costa Rican skateboarders, and in particular those who practice this sport in Nicoya streets, are being singled out in a new piece of legislation aimed at making roads safer across the country.
The legislation, entitled “Law Number 9078,” is an 111-page document making a great number of changes to existing transit law, among which is Article 124, which makes the use of skateboards and “other self-powered devices” prohibited on any public-access roadways, and punishes users with a 20.000 colones fine ($40), as well as confiscation of the board by police until the fines are paid.
“Since the extreme sports festival earlier this year, skateboarding has taken off” said Nicoyan Elias Benavides, 27, the host of the weekly radio show Cultura Alternativa/Alternative Culture, which focus on skateboarding and BMX. “You can't do any skateboarding here now with the new law.”
“[Lawmakers] want to stop skating completely,” he continued. He says that “they're banning us from the road, but not building skate-parks, so where are we supposed to go?”
Benavides can't name any skateboard accidents that he knows of, or any that he's heard of from others in town, but ostensibly the law is about safety. The Ministerio de Obras Publicas y Transporte in San Jose also said that they have no details about specific instances of accidents and injuries resulting from motorists colliding with pedestrians on self-powered vehicles like bicycles and skateboards.
“I can understand, it can be dangerous to skate in the street sometimes,” sighed Benavides. “It's dangerous to just put up a rail in the middle of the road, but there aren't any public skate parks here.”
He also argues that by building skateparks and continuing promotion of the sport through festivals, competitions, there could be a lot of opportunities for Nicoyans to cash in.
“We could have skate shops, shoe and clothing shops,” he said. “There could be more commerce and interest in extreme sports. It could be a positive thing, with more jobs here in Nicoya.”
But while Benavides and other skaters may lament the introduction of the new law without any place to ride in the meantime, there seems to be at least one way that something may get done about it, although it's strictly at the municipal level.
The Instituto Mixto de Ayuda Social (Mixed Institute of Social Service) has plans for a combined recreation space currently up for review, which is supposed to contain a football field, a playground, and a skatepark.
According to Benavides, “I'm afraid that this law can discourage people from physical activity like skateboarding and BMX, and could create a lazy people.”
The MOPT, CSV and Transit Police did not immediately respond to requests for information on the new law.