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Sounding Off: Looking for the facts about skateboarding

January 20, 2011|By Deborah Laughton
  • Downhiller Hunter Schwirtz carves down Oak Street during a skateboarding session.
Downhiller Hunter Schwirtz carves down Oak Street during… (Coastline Pilot )

A one-page flier, printed front and back, and entitled "Skateboarders on Steep Hills" was recently taped to our fence. Since the flier is reputed to have come from the "Bluebird Canyon" neighborhood (a neighborhood in which I live), I was interested in reading the message and perhaps getting in contact with the authors of the flier since it makes a number of assertions. I like to check the facts, and, unfortunately, wasn't able to since there wasn't any contact information in the flier except a plea to write or call my City Council members.

I am choosing to investigate the statements in a more efficient manner — the press. Let me begin with where I live — on the corner of Bluebird and Summit where I have a front-row seat on the driving practices of my neighbors who live up and down the hill as well as of the skateboarders going down it.

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There is a stop sign on the north and south side of Summit, but none for those driving east up Bluebird (which makes sense since it can be risky to brake part way up the hill). Do drivers regularly stop at the north and south stop signs? I think a better choice of adverbs would be "intermittently" — or, more generously, most engage in what the officers call a "California stop." (They take their foot off the gas pedal, roll a little through the stop sign, and then accelerate.)

In contrast, the skateboarders always stop (probably in honor or fear of the steep descent). Score 1 for the skateboarders on safety, and -1 for the drivers.

Paragraph #2 of the skateboard flier claims that hundreds of skateboarders "fly downhill at speeds up to 50 mph." Has this been clocked or verified? The only way that a driver could verify this is by keeping pace with the skateboarder. Is the speed limit for drivers in our hills here set at 50 mph? If it is, it shouldn't be.

Paragraph #2 continues with the assertion that there has already been a death, a broken collarbone, broken arms, broken wrists, etc. How many of these same injuries have occurred in cars? Should cars be outlawed on our streets? Have any similar injuries occurred in any other sports, such as football, soccer, tennis, cycling, etc.? Should we outlaw those activities in Laguna?

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