Kim Fulton is a NZME. News Service regional reporter

Accidents blamed on 'wrong' surface

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Bellevue teenager Alex Ireland, 14, shows off his moves. Photo / George Novak
Bellevue teenager Alex Ireland, 14, shows off his moves. Photo / George Novak

Western Bay of Plenty people have made 126 claims for skateboarding injuries this year and one man says the answer to keeping skaters safe is providing better facilities.

ACC figures show the claims total $42,446 in the year to March 29.

Skateboarder and concrete specialist Garth Urquhart said people who did not know about skateboarding were building skateparks and the parks were not given the right finishes.

Concrete needed to be ultra-smooth so skaters would slide when they fell. Otherwise the surface would grab and hold skaters - and broken bones and grazes resulted.

Mr Urquhart said skaters should be included in the design process for skateparks.

"Not kids, they need to include guys like myself that have been doing it for 20 odd years.

"They need to include guys that have lots of experience."

His business, GrindKing, restored weathered surfaces. It had done work on skateparks around Tauranga, predominantly at its own expense.

Mr Urquhart said he had suffered plenty of injuries over the years.

"But it's no different to rugby or soccer or bloody cricket for that matter."

Bellevue mother Suzy Ireland said her 14-year-old son Alex had been skateboarding for the past two years. "He's had the odd fall, and plenty of scrapes and bruises, but luckily no major injuries.

"Certainly nothing which would warrant an ACC claim," she added. Mrs Ireland said her son was more likely to get seriously injured playing rugby than skateboarding and she had no safety concerns about the surfaces of existing skateboard parks. Older skateboarders who engaged in risky tricks and stunts faced the potential for serious harm and unfortunately lots of younger skaters loved to emulate their moves, she said.

Nationally, 2130 made ACC claims for skateboarding injuries in the first quarter of 2016. Those claims had cost $592,132 to date.

Several skateboarders have made headlines for risky stunts in recent months.

Bay of Plenty police said a skateboarder towed by a car last month which travelled almost the entire length of Marine Parade at 40km/h was "high risk behaviour at its worst".

Police media advisor Jillian Reid said skateboarders were allowed to ride on the road but police strongly advised them against doing so as there was significant risk of serious injury.

- Additional reporting Sandra Conchie

- Bay of Plenty Times

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