jailed skate boarder

May 15, 2008

A Canadian skateboarder has been jailed for refusing to stay off city streets, thus spotlighting how municipalities push people to walk or cycle yet bylaws leash them to their cars.

Lee Breen, 25, was ticketed in August 2007 for skateboarding on the streets of Fredericton City in easternmost Canada but refused to pay the fine. A judge ordered him to jail for five days.

He turned himself in to police at midday Wednesday.

"The city says it wants its citizens to find alternative forms of transport, so I did," Breen said outside Fredericton city hall before his arrest. "I completely bought into the 'green lifestyle'.

"I run a petrol-free lawn care company and I don't drive. And now they're putting me in jail for embracing an alternative form of transport that cuts down on CO2 emissions."

City officials say skateboarding in traffic is a dangerous for Breen and other road users, despite him wearing a helmet, staying off pavements and using hand signals.

Breen pointed to a city environmental campaign that encourages Fredericton residents to drive less to help cut carbon emissions linked to global warming.

An excerpt from the municipality's website states that Canadians take more than 2000 car trips each year that are shorter than three kilometers.

"Leaving the car keys at home and pulling out the walking shoes or bike helmet can save you petrol money, reduce your emissions by as much as 250kg a year and help you become more physically active," it says.

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