Two experts, Steve Leung and Danielle Chevalier, went through the city on Thursday to explore the Antwerp skate landscape. Leung is a lawyer, skater and chairman of the non-profit organization KNS Skateboarding. Chevalier is a researcher on Skatebaan Zeeburgereiland in Amsterdam, the largest skate park in the Netherlands. The two discussed a skate-friendly city policy.
Saar Van Olmen
ALSO READ: Skaters protest against Antwerp policy: “Skating is not a crime”
On September 8, the Antwerp skate community was told that they are not allowed to skate on the Scheldt quays. There is also a ban on Theaterplein between 10 pm and 8 am. The skaters see no problem with the Theaterplein, but regret that they are no longer allowed to do their thing on the Scheldt quays.
That is why the non-profit organization KNS Skateboarding would like to find a solution to the problem. They hope to enter into a dialogue with experts through various campaigns such as the Skate De Stad evenings. On Thursday there was also such an evening in the Stadswaag with international guests who talk about skating in their city. Leung wanted to inform Chevalier in advance about the situation in Antwerp.
Noise measurements and an alcohol ban
According to Leung, most complaints are about the skaters who came during the corona crisis. “That’s why we make sure to implement some measures to make sure the skaters avoid the spots. We asked them not to leave litter and to be quiet after 10pm.” “There were also complaints about noise pollution in Amsterdam,” says Chevalier. “But there, the residents’ messages were objectified by taking noise measurements.”
Achieving a truly skate-friendly policy requires structuring the public domain to take skaters into account so that places are provided for them. “A skate park is not enough,” he says. “You skate there completely differently than in the city.” He also asks not to associate skating with nuisance, insecurity and vandalism. “It’s a youth activity and a creative outlet.”
“During the corona crisis, drunk people passed by, which also affected the skaters,” says Leung. Chevalier then poses the question whether an alcohol ban in public places cannot be raised, such as the ban on the use of soft drugs in public places in Amsterdam.
Lessons from Copenhagen
“I think we can draw a lot from cities like Copenhagen,” says Leung. “The skaters are really part of the city there and city policy consults with them about how they can construct the public domain. For example, with a skate official in Sweden, we can agree in advance to lay iron slats on stones, so that the stone is not damaged.”
“Even in the corona app in the Netherlands, skaters are taken into account. For example, under your QR code, first a cyclist and then a skater will pass by,” says Chevalier. Leung hope that Antwerp will go skaters more in the future.