Bristol skateboarders take on ‘skatestopper’ defensive architecture

Bristol skateboarders take on 'skatestopper' defensive architecture
‘Admittedly, skateboarding is a loud activity, but cities are loud places’ … teenagers skateboarding on Bristol’s waterfront

Bristol is seeing an increase in the use of skatestoppers – metal fittings attached to its city furniture. Daryl Mersom believes they threaten individual freedom … and even encourage skateboarding by providing a new challenge

A battle of wills is being played out on Bristol’s ledges and benches. Skatestoppers – or “skater-haters”, as they are sometimes called – are metallic knobs attached to a city’s street furniture to prevent skateboarders from using them for tricks. Originating in America, they began appearing in Bristol more than 10 years ago. A leading manufacturer markets them as devices that prevent urban spaces from becoming “a practice ground for disruptive and destructive activity”.

The stoppers range from cumbersome metal clamps fitted to the sides of ledges, to unobtrusive and abrasive edges on otherwise smooth granite benches. Sometimes the stoppers are placed on ledges so high that they would be almost impossible to skate anyway.

The stoppers protect the often expensive ledges from becoming scratched and rounded off, and deter skateboarders from waxing them (skateboarders apply candle wax to ledges so there is less friction between them and the metal trucks of the board. Some people argue this wax leaves an unattractive stain on the ledges.) […]