Skate parks

Outdoor and indoor sport and recreation settings vary considerably in their design, size, use and location, from the venue for a chess game, to a football ground.

This section contains principles that can be interpreted and adapted to suit the outdoor recreation setting of skate parks.

This setting is described in terms of its role and use, outlining design principles to consider and to support use by everyone. Universal design key requirements and minimum standard access dimensions for specific elements relating to facilities and installations are provided for design that will assist in maximising the effective use of all areas.

The universal design key requirements have been developed as an easy to access checklist of issues to consider and the minimum access dimensions are based on the Australian Standards for Access and Mobility. Whilethese Standards relate to the requirements of people with a range of access challenges and disabilities, they often generally improve access for all people.

Skate Parks

Skate parks are often located in larger parks and reserves however they can also be designed as stand alone facilities catering for a wide range of users. These users can include younger children with bicycles and scooters as well as older children and teenagers using skate boards, roller blades and bikes. Many adults are also keen skateboarders, so consideration of the access needs of everyone is important.


 

An example of a universally designed skate park setting.Figure 1: An example of a skate park setting

  1. The provision of shade over some of the skating elements, as well as over some seating and drinking fountains adjacent to these, will support all users and spectators
  2. A continuous accessible path of travel within and around each of the key zones within the skate and bike riding area
  3. It is important to consider colour contrasts to differentiate between horizontal and vertical elements and surfaces

Design principles

The following key design principles should be considered when developing or upgrading skate parks.

Connections

All elements within skate parks should be connected via a continuous accessible path of travel, for example, car parking, toilets, buildings, play areas, drinking fountains and seating. These elements should be linked so that anyone can easily move to and through all of them and enjoy the location and the facilities to the maximum extent.

Approach

Skate parks require approach routes for both vehicles and pedestrians. These should be well signed with entry points that users can easily find. Use of environmental or architectural cues, a line of trees leading to the entry or similar structures that identify the entry point can assist.

Parking spaces for vehicles of various size and use, including cars, mini buses and bicycles should be provided in any onsite car parking area. Consideration should be given to vehicles with side and rear loading capacity for people who may be using mobility aids, as well as enough overhead clearance to load and upload items stored on a vehicle's roof.

Shade and shelter over some parking bays that may be used by people who take a little longer to enter or exit their vehicle are also useful. These bays should be located as close as possible to the entry of the skate park. The ground surface of the parking area, particularly at designated accessible parking bays, should be level and free from loose material. Use of trees or shrubs that drop foliage or seed pods should be avoided.

An uninterrupted path of travel, free from any hazards or difficult or uneven terrain, should lead users from the car park to the entry points of the skate park.

Drop off areas that can cater for a variety of vehicles, for example, bus, taxi or car, should also be provided as close to the principal entry points as possible.

Entry points

As well as being easily identifiable and incorporating effective contrasts to the background area, points of entry, including site, paths and building entrances, should be wide enough to cater for the access needs of all users. This includes people who may be using mobility aids such as twin prams, scooters or wheelchairs and, for example, an adult with a child who is walking, but who needs to be held by the hand or a person with an assistance animal.

Consideration should also be given to the type and weight of any gates or doors that may need to be used, to ensure they are not too heavy or difficult to operate.

Latches that can be used easily with one hand that are located at a low height for ease of use by a smaller person or someone using a wheelchair are important. Entry points that incorporate turnstiles, chicanes, or queuing lines can be difficult for some people to manage and alternatives should be provided. Appropriate access through security gates, particularly during a temporary festival or event in the skate park, should also be considered.

Paths

Continuous, accessible paths of travel free from obstacles should be provided. They should incorporate alternatives to steps, be firm, stable and slip resistant, and avoid excessive slopes and crossfalls whenever possible. Ramps with appropriate gradients, kerbs, handrails and landing and resting points should be provided where slopes cannot be avoided.

Paths should incorporate clear lines of sight at key decision making points, as well as visible and textural indication of any hazards, particularly at any location where there may be a pedestrian and vehicle conflict.

Paths should be wide enough for people to easily pass each other when coming from opposite directions. The width of the pathway should be considered in light of the number of expected users, for example, in areas that attract many people, pathways should be wide enough to allow groups of people to pass each other, including users of a range of mobility aids such as prams, walking frames and wheelchairs.

Spectator areas

Spectator areas for everyone should be provided at various locations around the skate park and skating elements. Consideration should be given to locations that will cater for users of mobility aids such as prams, strollers, wheelchairs, scooters and assistance animals (animals that have been trained to perform tasks that assist people with disabilities), so people can sit with family and friends.

All spectator seating and viewing areas must have clear lines of sight to the skating area, scoreboards and television monitors (wherever provided).

Alternative scoring systems that assist people with hearing and vision limitations should also be provided. If a sound amplification system is provided, assistive hearing devices should also be installed to assist spectators with hearing impairment. Assistance hearing devices can be used with or instead of hearing devices.

Any spectator areas along paths should be designed so that people do not obstruct the path when stopping to view the activity. Spaces should be provided beside, but connected to the path, for effective use by everyone. A wider section of path or an extended area beside the path, with a firm, level and slip resistant surface should be available.

Consideration should be given to installing seating with backs and armrests at some of these locations with enough room for users of a range of mobility aids to sit off the pathway with other people.

Where areas are reserved for spectator viewing from vehicles, spaces should be provided for people who may not easily be able to get out of their vehicle, or who require additional space to manoeuvre mobility aids when entering and exiting the vehicle.

The location of these spaces needs to be planned effectively and any vegetation and fencing designed accordingly. Fence height and construction are prime considerations.

Spectator areas that are installed above ground level, such as viewing platforms, should incorporate barrier-free access with kerbs, easy to grip handrails and safety barriers that are effective, but don't impede the view, particularly for a smaller person, a child sitting in a stroller or a person sitting in a wheelchair.

Tiered spectator areas or scoring towers can be made easier to use by considering the gradient of ramps and the incorporation of easy to grip handrails and design of stairs, including using contrast nosings on the stair treads. Firm, slip resistant surface finishes, provision of seating and hooped handrails at the end of seating rows, as well as shade and drinking water at the top, will also assist many people to enjoy the experience.

Seating spaces should also be deep and wide enough to enable a person to feel safe from falling if in a tiered spectator area.

Lifts should be provided in structures that are designed for spectators to view skating activities from levels above the ground.

Landscape design

Landscape elements can include paths and garden beds, plants, trees and shrubs and interactive components related to the skating area, statues, sculptures and water features, as well as a variety of other landscape elements. These are all key components of landscaping in skate park surrounds and consideration should be given to location, access, interpretation, usability and safety for everyone.

Limitations to a person's mobility, vision and hearing as well as the interpretation needs of both children and adults, should be taken into account in the design and access to these elements.

Key design issues to consider include:

  • the selection and use of trees with foliage that does not overhang paths and drop branches, seed pods, berries or bark, which can create barriers for all users
  • use of landscaping design and elements to assist with wayfinding. For example:
  1. planting of shade trees and plants with different aromas and sounds that can assist users with wayfinding through the area as well as enhance the ambience of the space and create a sense of wellbeing
  2. a large sculpture near the entry of a building that can act as a key wayfinding element to assist users to find their way to the entry point
  3. consistent use of lightly textured paving, across a pathway to identify the direction to a viewing or seating area which assists people with limitations to vision, and other people when looking for somewhere to rest
  4. easy to find and follow paths of travel created by the use of low growing plants along path edges, to installations such as skate viewing areas or drinking fountains
  • installation of interesting engagement points such as a skating maze or labyrinth, to encourage exploration and 'safe' risk taking
  • installation of sculptures and structures that can be 'felt' as well as 'seen'
  • incorporating interesting seating designs, with backs and armrests, within landscape structures
  • effective maintenance of sight lines, particularly in areas where key decision making is required, in isolated locations where personal safety could be compromised, or near any family use areas such as play spaces.

Installations

Installations such as litter bins, seating, lighting drinking fountains (incorporating a low height dog bowl), dog dropping collection points and other installations must be usable by everyone. These should be located off, but connected to, a continuous accessible path of travel. People should be able to easily approach, reach and use the installation.

All installations should incorporate low height, easy to use controls, that can be reached by a smaller person. They should incorporate adequate leg clearance underneath to accommodate someone who is seated. Consideration of the angles of approach and clear space for a person to move around the installation is also important.

Controls with large push buttons that protrude or extend beyond surrounding surface or large levers are usually easier to use. Avoid any controls that require a person to use fine motor skills like 'one pointed finger' or that require a constant pressure to operate. The ability for one handed operation is preferred. Sensor operated controls that activate by sensing movement underneath or close to the installation also support ease of use.

The use of effective colour and luminance contrast to adjacent and background surfaces, on installations and elements within installations, will make them easier to identify and also assist with understanding how they are used.

Picnic and rest areas

Rest and picnic areas should include seating with backs and armrests and tables with extended ends or clear spaces to allow for a person using a wheelchair to move underneath or a person to clip on a child restraint.

Barbecues must be useable by everyone with controls at the front of the hot plate. This ensures they are easy to reach and eliminates the need for people to reach over the top of the hot plate.

A level bench top next to the hotplate made from glare free, heat resistant material, allows a person to move hot pans and other items easily on and off the hot plate, without the need to lift heavy items.

Barbecues should be located off, but connected to, a continuous accessible path of travel as well as being close to other important facilities such as toilets and play spaces.

Shade and shelter should be provided over some of these areas so that, depending on weather conditions, people can choose what will best suit their needs.

Where picnic and rest areas incorporate structures, such as a rotunda, there should be level or step free access available, as an alternative to stairs.

Buildings

All buildings should be located on a continuous accessible path of travel from the car parking and pedestrian entry points of the skate park. They should provide level, step free entry  with norevolving doors or turnstiles and with wide door openings to accommodate all users, including people with mobility aids such as prams, strollers, wheelchairs or assistance animals. Self opening doors are preferred, with effective contrasts across any glass doors or areas that could be mistaken for a doorway, to ensure that the safety of users is not compromised.

Consideration should also be given to shelter close to, but not obstructing the principal entries, where some people may wish to store mobility aids while using the building.

Wide internal walkways and doorways, clear of any obstructions on the floor surface and walls, and areas to pass easily are important. Level, slip resistant floor surfaces, in both wet and dry conditions, that do not incorporate any lips or tripping hazards should be maintained.Access into each room of the building is necessary so that users can participate in all activities and utilise required facilities. Fixtures and fittings that can be accessed by a smaller person or a child, as well as someone who is seated are necessary, for example, at customer service counters and information and display areas.

Any controls that are required to operate building elements such as lights or doors, should be easy to grip, see, reach and operate and be supplemented with clear, concise instructions for use where necessary. These instructions should be provided in a range of formats, for example, written, audio and tactile to ensure that all users can effectively interpret the information provided.

In multiple level buildings, either ramps with appropriate gradients, or lifts, should be provided to upper levels to support ease of use and movement. These should be easy to locate, with consideration given to the use of effective contrasts as well as raised tactile and Braille signage. Lifts should incorporate buttons that include raised tactile elements as well as Braille close to the buttons to support effective interpretation and wayfinding. Audio announcements should also be installed to identify floor levels.Any stairs should incorporate effective contrast nosings on the stair treads. Stairs and ramps require easy to grip handrails and tactile ground surface indicators at the top and bottom.

Hearing augmentation should be provided in any buildings where people may meet, for example, to begin a skate boarding competition or activity or where there are interactive displays that people can listen to. Captions on screens for people who may have limitations to hearing, as well as audio or tactile alternatives for people who may have limitations to vision should also be considered. Good lighting is necessary for all users.Any buildings that incorporate kitchen or dining areas should provide ease of access for everyone and incorporate a range of tables and seating heights and types for children and adults. Tables with extended ends so a person using a wheelchair can move underneath, lower height or adjustable benches, leg clearances under fixtures such as sinks and benches, access to taps, cupboards and equipment should all be considered.

Toilets and change rooms

If toilets and change rooms are provided they should be available for use by everyone. In addition to male and female areas, unisex accessible toilets, showers and change rooms are required as these can be effectively used by children as well as adults, including people with a range of access challenges. Key elements to consider include:

  • located on a continuous accessible path of travel from the car parking and pedestrian entry
  • adequate room size and circulation space
  • wide door opening, with a sliding door where possible
  • easy to see and use door occupied indicator, handle and flushing control
  • appropriate grab rails at the side and back of the toilet pan
  • appropriate toilet pan distance from the side and rear wall
  • toilet paper that is easily reached from the pan
  • soap dispenser and hand dryer that are easily reached from the hand basin
  • hand basin at an accessible height with appropriate leg clearance underneath
  • baby change table where space allows
  • adjustable height shower head
  • non–slip shower seat with legs for support
  • grab rails on walls of shower
  • level, slip resistant floor surfaces in both wet and dry conditions
  • adult change table with a hoist
  • interconnecting change spaces with a lockable door in between
  • facilities for both left and right handed users
  • provision of ambulant accessible facilities which are useful for people who use mobility aids such as prams and strollers.

Water

The availability of drinking water for both people and animals is important. Children and adults as well as people using assistance animals will require access to drinking fountains, bowls or other ways of obtaining drinking water. Drinking fountains that are easy to reach, have large lever handles for operation, and incorporate a low level drinking bowl for an assistance animal, support access for everyone. A firm slip resistant surface around the installation to support access is also important.

Wayfinding and information

A successful wayfinding system should minimise anxiety and confusion, should be easy to understand and allow for everyone to equitably access all information provided. Wayfinding relies on a succession of communication cues provided throughout an environment. Cues may be visual, audible or tactile.

A visual way finding system incorporating cues such as architecture, landscape design, fountains, flagpoles, lighting, landmarks and other orientation points should be developed for the skate park.

Signage is a critical key element of an effective way finding system.

Signs and information about key features including skate elements and spectator areas, as well as the location of car parking, toilets and buildings must be freely available in a range of formats, so that people can prepare to enjoy the skate park they are visiting.

Consideration should be given to four types of signs:

  • identification
  • information
  • directional
  • safety or regulatory, prohibition and advisory.

It is important to ensure that everyone can effectively interpret and use these different types of signage within the environment.Accessible signage incorporates the positive elements of traditional signage as well as alternatives such as Braille and tactile and audio elements, and gives consideration to a number of other key components that impact on accessibility and usability. When designing accessible signage consideration should be given to the following:

  • language
  • location
  • content
  • typeface or font
  • letter spacing
  • size of letters
  • appropriate symbols
  • tactile and Braille
  • contrast and colour
  • illumination
  • alternatives to traditional signage, for example, audio.

Signage incorporating the international symbol of access or deafness should be used to identify accessible elements where appropriate.

Lighting

Effective, glare free lighting should be provided throughout areas that are likely to be used at night. This can include pathways, skating elements, seating, building entrances and exits as well as areas that may pose a safety risk, such as at pedestrian and vehicle conflict areas, stairs and ramps.

Skating and bike riding areas

Skate and bike riding areas should provide access for all potential users. A range of zones and elements that allow for users of differing ages, interests and abilities will support a broader participation base for the skate park.

Given the various changes of level within skate and bike riding areas, it is important to consider colour and luminance contrasts to differentiate between horizontal and vertical elements and surfaces. Luminance contrast nosings on steps or stairs, colour contrast between vertical and horizontal surfaces such as handrails and skate bowls, ledges on the top of banks, grinding rails and drop offs will all support both an aesthetically pleasing environment for all users, as well as supporting the needs of people with limitations to vision.

The points outlined below should be considered in skating and bike riding areas:

  • a continuous accessible path of travel within and around each of the key zones within the skate and bike riding area will assist all users to use each area effectively
  • step free transition onto the skate and bike riding area from any location on a path around the perimeter, will ensure options are provided for people to access particular elements that may suit their particular skill levels and interests. It will also support ease of exit in the case of an emergency or accident
  • use of smooth, slip resistant ground surfaces that are suitable for use in both wet and dry conditions and have colour and luminance differentiation in these changing conditions is also important
  • materials that do not produce glare or retain heat or cold in varying weather conditions should also be considered for all installations including handrails,
  • grinding edges, seating and drinking fountains
  • the provision of shade over some of the skating elements, as well as over some seating and drinking fountains adjacent to these, will support all users and spectators.

Emergency exit

Emergency exits should be provided along a continuous accessible path of travel to a nominated assembly area from all rooms within a building or pathways within the skate park. Consideration must be given to all users including children, older adults, and people using a range of aids such as prams, wheelchairs, hearing aids, assistance animals and white canes.

Fire extinguishers should be easy to reach for everyone and incorporate clear instructions for use.

Both visible and audible emergency alarms should be installed in buildings and around the site to assist all users as well as a public address system for use by the fire service to assist in directing people along the most accessible path of travel given the building or site condition at any one time.

Emergency exits and paths of travel should be kept clear of obstructions at all times.

Equipment and other items stored in buildings should not create any barriers.

Evacuation maps should be installed at accessible heights, be easy to read and available in alternative formats to assist all building and site users.

An emergency evacuation plan that addresses the needs of all building and site users should be developed and practised during evacuation drills.

Skate parks – Checklist of key elements

Consideration must be given to universal design in skate parks relating to a wide range of key elements. In relation to skate parks, the key elements include:

Paths of travel

Car parking, set down and waiting

Entrances and exits

Building and facilities

Toilets, showers and change rooms

Installations

Communication and information