Is it Illegal to Ride a Skateboard on the Road?


When thinking about skateboarding, I started to wonder if it is legal to ride a skateboard on the road? Here is what I found when I did some research.

So, is it illegal to ride a skateboard on the road? In most states, riding a skateboard on the road is seen the same a being a pedestrian. It is okay to cross the road where it’s appropriate but is it illegal to ride your skateboard on the road. Laws vary by state.

What are the skateboard laws in the United States? Now we know that it’s not legal to ride on the road, but what about wearing helmets, licenses, etc?

Do Skateboarders Have to Obey Street Laws?

In most states, there aren’t laws specifically directed towards skateboards. Most laws have specific wording to describe skateboards, roller skates, pogo sticks, red wagons, etc under pedestrian laws. For example, the state of Washington describes a pedestrian as,

“any person who is afoot or who is using a wheelchair, a power wheelchair, or a means of conveyance propelled by human power other than a bicycle.

(emphasis added)
RCW 46.04.400

Therefore, in most states, skateboarders must obey the same laws as pedestrians on the street.

Can I Skateboard on the Sidewalk?

It’s easy to conclude that skateboards can ride wherever pedestrians as are allowed to walk. Since pedestrians are required to use sidewalks rather than the roadway, it’s presumed that it is legal for skateboards to use the sidewalk. If there are no sidewalks, the skateboarder (same a pedestrian) should travel in the left lane of the road, facing traffic, and move off the roadway for oncoming cars.

However, local jurisdictions can make additional rules specific to skateboards. While the state might recognize skateboarders the same as pedestrians, there may be more specific laws instituted by the city. For example, skateboards could be prohibited on sidewalks or in the business district of a certain city. Some cities have deemed it illegal to skateboard through any commercially zoned area.

There are also other instances where it might not make sense for skateboarders to be classified the same as pedestrians. For example, some long boards can reach the same speed as a bicycle. It probably doesn’t make sense for them to ride at those speeds on a sidewalk.

Lastly, in some areas, skateboarding on the sidewalk is illegal. It’s important to know the laws in your city to make sure that you’re not doing anything illegal.

What about bike lanes?

The opinion on using bike lanes is mixed. Some people have noted that the police have stopped them to say they can’t ride on the bike lane. Others say as long as they’re wearing a helmet, the police leave them alone. You should check with your city to see what is and isn’t allowed in the bike lane.

You should also consider the safety of riding in the bike lane. Riding next to vehicles that are traveling at 35mph or more. What would happen if you wiped-out or lost control of your skateboard? It could quickly escalate to a dangerous situation.

Is Skateboarding at Night Illegal?

There are a few places in the United States where skateboarding at night is considered illegal. However, in most states, skateboarders are considered the same as bicyclists and only need to wear lights or reflective gear.

For example, here is the code for skateboarding at night in Townsville, NY:

No person shall skate or glide on a skateboard on a roadway during the period of time between 1/2 hour after sunset and 1/2 hour before sunrise, unless such person is wearing readily visible reflective clothing or material which is of light or bright color.

Chapert 278-4 Skateboards

Skateboarding, regulated by state and local laws, vary by location. For example, one state prohibits skateboarding in the streets after daylight and another city in the same state allows skateboarding only from a half-hour after dawn to a half-hour before dusk. Some cities prohibit all skateboarding within some commercial and business districts. Local laws should be consulted for specific requirements in your area.

Is it Illegal to Skateboard on Public Property?

Whether the property is public or private, there are liability issues with the landowner. Skateboarders will often hold property owners liable for damages or injuries that occur on the property.

There are usually no specific laws about skateboarding on public property. It largely depends on the property owner and their known liability… whether the property is dedicated to skateboarding or permission was given for skateboarding.

If you skateboard on a property where the owner has prohibited it, if you do no leave when asked, they could likely call the police and have you removed from the property.

Can You Skateboard in Parking Lots?

You can skateboard in parking lots as long as there are no signs indicating that they do not want skateboarders. Additionally, if you’re skateboarding on their parking lot and they ask you to leave, you must comply. Property owners have to right to call police and ask them to remove you from their property for trespassing.

You can ask the property owner for permission to skateboard on their parking lot. However, skateboards present a liability to the owner because any injuries or damages that might occur will become their responsibility. It’s unlikely that the property owner will give you permission.

Is It Illegal to Skateboard without a Helmet?

In some cities and states, it is illegal to skateboard without a helmet, whereas other areas simply do not say. Be sure to check your local jurisdiction to find out for sure if helmets are required by law.

Some states require minors and adults to wear helmets at all times. In fact, if a minor is cited for not wearing a helmet, the parent becomes liable for the fine. Also, some skate parks that fall under this jurisdiction do not enforce the helmet law and tell riders to “skate at your own risk”, a practice that is not recommended.

Also, you might live in a city or state that doesn’t specifically say helmets are mandatory, some skate parks require helmets. If this is the case, you must obey the rules or risk being kicked out.

Whether it’s legal or not, wearing a helmet anytime you’re skateboarding is always strongly recommended. There have been a lot of serious, and sometimes fatal, injuries that occurred simply because the rider wasn’t wearing a helmet.

Is it Illegal to Skateboard in Florida Without a License?

There are many rumors on the internet claiming that it is illegal to skateboard in Florida with out a license. However, when doing my own research, I could not find any government documentation to prove such a claim. Most states classify skateboarder’s the same as pedestrians and therefore do not require licensing.

One Florida news channel asked a Florida Highway Patrol Sargent if the rumor was true and her response was,

That’s not true. If you want to ride a skateboard in the state of Florida, you are considered to be a pedestrian and are not required to have a driver’s license.

Sgt. Kim Montes, Florida Highway Patrol

In my own research, I have not found any city or state law stating that it’s illegal to ride a skateboard without a license.

Is it Illegal to Skateboard in an Airport?

Many people have shared stories of skateboarding through airports. Legally, there are no known laws regarding skateboarding in airports, however, the airport itself could make their own rules against it. It would be best to call the airport first and ask them if it’s okay. As always, if you’re skateboarding in an airport and are asked to stop, you should obey. They have the right to call the police and they will make you stop.

Related Questions

Which country banned skateboarding? Norway banned the use, ownership, and sale of skateboards from 1978 to 1989. The ban was instituted into law due to the high number of injuries that were caused by skateboards.

Are electric skateboards street legal? In most states, electric skateboards are legal to ride on streets with speed limits of 35 mph or less. It is against the law to ride electric skateboards of roadways with higher speed limits than 35 mph.