Skateboarders are defined as pedestrians for the purposes of the Road Rules. The rules that apply specifically to skateboarders or users of ‘wheeled recreational devices’ are contained in rules 240A – 244.
- Skateboarders on footpaths or shared paths must give way to pedestrians on foot, and also must keep to the left of a footpath (rule 242);
- The fine for pedestrians (including skaters) who breach such rules as walking against a red ‘Don’t Walk’ sign or a red light, crossing a road within 20 metres of a marked crossing, walking along the road where there is a footpath that could be used and walking across a level crossing when a boom gate is down or the red lights are flashing carries a maximum of 5 penalty units;
- The fine for intersection window washers carries a penalty of up to 2 penalty units (rule 236(4)); and
- Fines for roller bladers and skaters for offences such as riding along a road (other than a road with a speed limit of 50km/h or less and no centreline or median strip) can incur a penalty of up to 5 penalty units.
Skateboarders can travel on roads where the speed limit is 50 km/h or less, and there is no median strip, and it is not a one-way street with more than one marked lane. This means that many smaller roads around Hobart are open to skateboarders.
Road Law for Skaters
As mentioned above, skateboards, in-line and other roller skates and scooters are all included in the Road Rules' definition of ‘wheeled recreational devices’. Users of these items are considered to be pedestrians and not riders or drivers. Accordingly, the majority of the Rules discussed above do not apply. For example, there is no requirement for skaters to wear protective headgear. However, skaters are strongly urged to invest in a helmet and protective guards for elbows, wrists and knees.
Wheeled recreational devices may not be used on roads ‘with a dividing line or median strip, or on one-way roads with more than one marked lane’ (rule 240(1); maximum 5 penalty units) or on a road where they are prohibited (rule 240(2); maximum 5 penalty units). This includes the ‘shoulder’ (rule 12) of the road but does not include paths, car parks, off road areas, footpaths etc.In addition, the devices must not be used on a road without due care and attention and reasonable consideration for other road users (rule 366; maximum 5 penalty units).
On a road, the skater must keep as close to the left hand side as practicable and must not travel more than two abreast with other pedestrians or vehicles, unless overtaking (rule 241; maximum 5 penalty units).
When travelling on a footpath or shared path, the skater must keep as far left as practicable and give way to any pedestrians (‘pedestrian’ here does not include other skaters or children on ‘wheeled toys’) (rule 242(1); maximum 5 penalty units).
For skaters using a separated footpath (defined above), Rule 243(1) says that skaters must not be on that part of the path designated for pedestrians unless the skater:
- is crossing the path by the shortest, safe route; and
- does not stay on the path for longer than necessary to cross safely (maximum 5 penalty units).
Skaters using a bicycle path also must keep out of the way of any bicycle (rule 243(2); maximum 5 penalty units).
Finally, skaters are prohibited from being towed by a moving vehicle (rule 244; maximum 5 penalty units).
There are many other prohibitions contained in the Road Rules that also apply to skaters because they fall within the definition of ‘pedestrians’. These include:
- failing to obey traffic signals (rule 231(1), 232(1); maximum 5 penalty units);
- failing to cross a road, railway line or tram tracks by the shortest and safest route (rule 230(1), 233(1) and (2), 234(1) and (2), 235(1) and (2); maximum 5 penalty units);
- causing a traffic hazard by moving into the path of a driver (rule 236(1) and (2); maximum 5 penalty units); and
- getting into, or out of, a moving vehicle (rule 237(1), 269(1); maximum 5 penalty units).
No Wheeled Device Zone
Skaters and other users of recreational devices should keep an eye out for ‘No Wheeled Devices Zones’. These will have pictures of skate boards and scooters with a diagonal red line through them. Pedestrian malls and shopping areas will often be No Wheeled Device Zones. There is a 5 penalty unit penalty for ignoring these signs (rule 366).
Often the same areas will prohibit bicycles. Many streets in the Hobart CBD are bicycle and skateboard free zones during daylight hours.