Boards, blades and scooters

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Boards, blades or a trusty scooter will get you where you want to go, they're a lot cheaper than running a car and you're not doing any harm to the environment.

Skate smart, skate safe

Unfortunately, skateboarders are the least likely group to wear protective gear of any type. Only 13 percent of skaters take care of themselves with a helmet, knee or elbow pads and wrist guards to ensure their safety. It's not surprising Victorian hospital emergency admissions for skating injuries have almost doubled in the past few years to around 1000 annually. Of these, 100 skaters have a longer (and usually preventable) stay in hospital.

The most common skating injury is something you can see almost every day: a fall onto outstretched hands and arms on a hard surface, an accident easily dodged if you use basic protective gear.

Skateboards can be used on the footpath, unless specifically prohibited by signs, but in addition to looking after yourself you should always spare a thought for those around you.

Skaters can use minor roads (those with no lanes marked) but only between dawn and dusk. You can't skate on any roads with a centre line, lane markings or median strips, and you should never be towed by any vehicle.

If you're serious about your skating and you need some room and a safe environment to practice, why not get online to find out the location of a skate park (new window) near you.

Rollerblades

Rollerblading (new window), or inline skating as it's sometimes called, will get you from A to B very quickly. If you're just out to enjoy the weather and a work-out, many bicycle paths (although not the bike lanes on busy roads) are also available to rollerbladers.

Most of the same laws that apply to skaters also apply to rollerblading. Don't land yourself in legal and financial hot water by risking a fine by ignoring restrictions, especially in areas clearly marked with signs.

Shopping centres - and even entire trading and business precincts in some Victorian towns and city suburbs - have prohibited skating or rollerblading. As a good general rule you should be extra careful around large groups of people, especially children.

There are plenty of public places and opportunities for you to rollerblade and most areas that are off-limits are simply a matter of common sense, consideration and safety.

Some building owners don't want rollerbladers practicing new moves, no matter how impressive, on their driveways or disabled access ramps, in their entrances or car parks.

It goes without saying that you should make sure you have all the appropriate protective gear to rollerblade without risk. Unlike a skateboard, you can't jump off rollerblades if you're moving too quickly and headed for a busy intersection!

Scooters

They're portable, popular and don't take nearly as much time to learn to use as a skateboard or rollerblades. The scooters we're talking about here are those moved around by sweat and foot power not the electric or petrol variety, which are closer to a motorbike and governed by an entirely different set of traffic and safety laws.

The way a scooter folds, its braking system, low clearance, overall design and how well it's been manufactured can greatly influence how and where it should be used. Most are not built for high speeds or fancy stunts.

Like skateboards and rollerblades, you should make certain you have the basics covered before you begin speeding about your neighbourhood. Know how to use your scooter, be able to steer and stop safely and keep out of harm's way (and out of the way of oncoming traffic) before taking it to the streets.

Links for boards, blades & scooters

The City of Melbourne - Skating
Check out the City of Melbourne's directory to skate parks, skate links, their skatesafe program, as well as useful information about the relevant laws and penalties.

Skate Australia
With a history extending over more than 40 years, Skate Australia is recognised by the Australian Sports Commission as the peak governing body for all skating activities in Australia.

Better Health Channel - Scooters and Child Safety
Provides tips and safety information for scooter users (or those thinking about it).