Otago University researchers call for better infrastructure to support skateboarders

Researchers at Otago University are calling for New Zealand cities to invest in better infrastructure to support skateboarders.

A survey of 775 teenagers in Southland revealed fewer young people are getting their driver's license, instead relying on skateboards, scooters or cycling to get around.

Of the seven percent who use skateboards to get around, more than half reported feeling unsafe while travelling, and lead author Dr Aimee Ward says it has to change.

"People who skateboard are classified as vulnerable road users but are often made to feel unwelcome no matter where they ride," she said on Monday.

"New Zealand law states that skateboarders can legally travel on the road, but they are often forced to the footpath where they can threaten the safety of other sidewalk users, and bylaws vary by city."

Dr Ward says cyclists and pedestrians are more vocal about support for their choice of transport, but skateboarders deserve the same level of support. 

She says cities and towns should formulate policies which allow all alternative methods of transport equal protection.

"As seen in some areas of Wellington, such as Cuba Street, all modes share space successfully, so it is also possible for regions like Otago and Southland to consider the conversion of cycle lanes and footpaths to shared spaces that are used by all."