I’m afraid that much of the discussion on these pages about speedboarding down our city’s steepest hills fails to address what I consider the key problem, which is the speed at which speedboarders and automobiles are hurtling towards each other.
Speedboarder Bryn Jones stated in a nationally-telecast interview that “we take curves as fast as we can,” with speeds he estimates in “the low 60s.” Well, if the speedboarder is coming downhill at 60 mph while a car is driving up the same hill at (the legal speed of) 25 mph, the two are approaching each other — often in the same lane — at 85 miles per hour, which is equal to 124.67 feet per second. Since the sharper curves on our streets restrict forward visibility to as little as 110 feet, the driver and the speedboarder will have less than one second to see and then avoid crashing into each other as they round the bend. If the driver takes a quick glance at his rear view mirror or GPS during this time, or if the uphill vehicle is a SUV or a school bus, a collision is almost certain, particularly because the speedboarder is swerving from one side of the street to the other (as also shown on the TV clip).
Some of the speedboarding defenses I have read on these pages are simply silly. One person writes that the driver is no more likely to hit a speedboarder than a pedestrian, but a pedestrian descends a hill at 5 miles an hour, not 60. Another says that riding a speedboard is no different than riding a bike, but bicycles have actual brakes. Another calls speedboarding a “mode of transportation,” but that’s like saying that a ski-jumping or luge competition is a mode of transportation. This is a sport, not a means of transportation, and I applaud the City Council members who seek an appropriate venue for such sports. But such flirtations with suicide on publicly trafficked streets, and at these speeds, seem to me akin to playing Russian roulette.
Robert Cohen, Laguna Beach