Having just read of the City Council waffling on allowing/restricting/limiting skateboarding on city streets, especially steep ones, in our well-policed city (apparently also reasonably opposed by the chief), I am struck by the sheer insanity of the very argument and issue.
Of what are we speaking? Simply, it is generally speaking young people engaged in skateboarding. I have nothing against skateboarders. My kids did it and I tried without injury. Boarding is fun and definitely has its place, but safely. It is not whether they are good or bad people, it’s just that to do it on heavily traveled streets amounts to sheer stupidity.
Last Thursday at 9:30 a.m. as I drove southbound on Coast Highway at the signal at Aster, across the intersection on the yellow light came a skateboarder in his 20s with head phones on blithely streaking left and down PCH as traffic approached from the north. He proceeded straight down the hill to Main Beach in the No. 2 lane, ignoring every ounce of common sense and concern for his own safety with cars following and being blocked.
This is the most fitting example to which I speak – insanity. Kids are kids. But, we are not their parents’ insurers of last resort.
To compare sensibly to bicycling doesn’t fit, i.e. bikes have brakes and are required to wear helmets and governed by the vehicle code plus they can be readily seen and are not hidden from common view by lack of size. Additionally, speed does in fact kill and steep hills are only gravity used for speed by boarders without brakes. Plus to compare injury numbers, there are probably 10 million more bikers than boarders and 50 million more drivers. Boarders’ bodies break!
My proposal is simple: To avoid the inevitable lawsuits by the parents of the inevitably severely injured child/young adult/adult skateboarder, any council member voting to allow such activity must post a bond to insulate and indemnify the city, using their assets as collateral, and each permitting parent and adult is deemed automatically to have waived all rights against the city and must provide indemnity insurance to insulate the city and wear their insurer’s emblem on their forehead! And the city attorney that allows the council to vote on such unrestricted skateboarding legislation should also be required to post a similar indemnity bond.
Correction: In an article on proposed skateboarding regulations, “Skating Ban Ok’d on Select Streets,” in the Feb. 4 edition, Jennifer Murray was mistakenly identified as the mother of a 13-year-old skater who received a $275 citation. In fact, Murray was testifying on behalf of the mother, who did not wish to speak.