Tree Climbing is Not a Crime!

Kids in TreesRemember that slogan about skateboarding? One day while I was out playing in the park on my lunch break, two rangers approached me and asked me to stop climbing trees. I asked if climbing trees was really prohibited and they said indeed it was, along with balancing on railings (another illegal activity I had been perpretrating). I complied, of course, but I was skeptical so I looked it up.

It turns out there are all kinds of prohibitions in Portland city parks: riding bikes on basketball courts (sorry, bike polo players and parents who want to teach their kids to ride), climbing or balancing on just about anything, slacklining, or drinking alcohol. I’ll grant that alcohol consumption has little to do with this blog’s focus on health and fitness. I include it beacuse it is illustrative of how many things are prohibited that, if practiced with courtesy, have little-to-no impact on other park users or the park itself. What’s wrong with having an impromptu picnic in the park with a little wine?

I haven’t determined if these rules are directed at reducing the city’s liability or protecting city property from damage, or protecting bystanders. The preamble indicates that it is a mix of these concerns.

In any case, all these rules are rarely enforced, are non-punitive (egregious or repeat violators can be excluded from parks), and I haven’t seen the rangers around much anymore. So while tree-climbing is technically not permitted in Portland parks, you can almost definitely get away with it. What do you think of these rules? Are you familiar with park rules in other cities?

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