Top 10 Design Mistakes

If we had our way there would never be any design mistakes. With a little planning and some luck you will never face any of these problems.

We asked SPS contributors for the most common design mistakes. Here they are!


Not employing expert design assistance and relying on “turn-key” skatepark providers. The results are unimaginative, cookie-cutter facilities that don’t meet the community’s sophisticated needs.

Prefabricated skateparks are sold with a promise that the skaters love them. It's not true; skaters need structures that won't fall apart.


Thinking that the least controversial site for the skatepark is the best site for the skatepark. Skateboarders need to be around people too.

Skaters enjoy recreating in dynamic, active spaces just like anyone else.


Relying on inexperienced builders. Their well-intentioned bids often result in dangerous flaws. Good intentions don’t necessarily make good skateparks.

People unfamiliar with skateboarding will often make well-intended decisions that result is increased maintenance, risk of injury to skaters, and a less successful skatepark.


Underestimating the social value of the skatepark to its users. A successful skatepark will become a gathering place for the local skaters and provide a crucial social connection.

Skaters are as social as anyone and will prefer to recreate in bustling, active spaces.


Underestimating the amount of total space the regular users will need to safely recreate and expecting a single, small skatepark to adequately meet the community’s needs. Similarly, mistakenly thinking that putting more structures in the space will necessarily create more things to do there.

A well-designed skatepark will be used by lots of people. It's important to understand how traffice within the space can be controlled.


Not understanding that skaters also want a clean, comfortable place to skate. Skaters may be persistent and willing to skate in unsavory places but the skatepark should be a skateboarding sanctuary—not a place that the community turns its back on.

The fence surrounding this skatepark was erected to protect cars from flying skateboards. What it actually did was convey to everyone that skateboarders should be penned in to protect the community.


Receiving “expert skatepark advice” from a salesperson or anyone else who has no intention of ever actually using the park. There is no shortage of bad decisions to avoid while planning your next skatepark.

Yes, this is a real steel structure sold to a community as adequate for its skaters. The result is clearly a dangerous and dilapidated chunk of metal that should be removed.


Thinking that smaller structures are for less experienced users or that big equates to unsafe. In most cases the inverse is true. Larger curved structures present more gradual slopes while smaller curved forms are more abrupt.

This "beginner bowl" is designed in a way that makes it challenging even for skilled skaters. Small does not equal "easy."


Lack of flow; structures relating to each other in unusable or unsafe ways. When the parts of a skatepark don’t carefully relate to each other, the users will face challenges they are unprepared for; collisions with structures and other users.

The designer of this park had no idea how the structures related to each other or how they are used. The result is a dangerous collision of structures.


Allocating little funds for what will become the Parks’ most consistently well-used facility. Rather than investigating the path of least resistance for meeting the skaters’ needs, Parks Departments would be wise to capitalize on the popularity of skateparks to demonstrate that they are attentive to youth recreation.

Skateparks are frequently cited as a Parks Department's "most used" facility. Take advantage of this easy audience and embrace the opportunity!