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Update on West Hills skateboarding ban: Concerned neighbor speaks out

Posted by on June 12th, 2012 at 5:51 pm

“Neither I nor anyone else in the neighborhood, as far as I know, is trying to put an end to Zoobomb. Not now, and not in the future.”
— Eric Nagle, Arlington Heights resident working to ban skateboards on SW Fairview Ave

As we shared yesterday, there’s an effort underway to ban skateboarding on the steep hills in and around Washington Park and the Arlington Heights neighborhood. I’m watching this issue closely because the roads under consideration for prohibition are also popular for people who enjoy riding bicycles downhill. I’m also interested in this issue because of the precedent it could set for how the City of Portland decides to ban certain road uses in response to neighborhood concerns.

Commissioner Randy Leonard and Arlington Heights Neighborhood resident Eric Nagle say the ban is necessary due to safety concerns. Nagle paints a dire picture of the situation. He claims skateboarders are running into cars and getting seriously hurt with increasing regularity. I have been in touch with Nagle to hear more about his side of the issue. He emailed me about it today saying, “What we’re trying to put an end to is the dangerous, crazy skateboarding that’s exploded in the neighborhood in recent years.”

Nagle added that there have been 10 collisions between skateboarders and cars at the corner of SW Fairview and Kingston alone. He shared five specific incidents with me that happened between June of last year through last month.

Today, the Portland Mercury looked into what the stats say about collisions in the area. Here’s how they frame the issue:

“The idea is driven by neighbors’ worries that with the increasing popularity of skating the steep streets, tragedy is inevitable—skaters are crashing into cars and it’s only a matter of time before someone dies.

But state statistics show a different story: That major skater-involved vehicle crashes are actually very rare.”

I tend to not put a lot of trust into State and City traffic collision data because it notoriously under-represents everything but motor vehicle-related collisions. Here’s more from Nagle about what doesn’t get reported:

“Literally hundreds of times in recent years, people driving through the neighborhood have had “near death experiences” with skaters, in which they’ve had to slam on their brakes or steer to the curb to avoid a skater coming around a curve in the wrong lane. It’s happened to me several times, and it’s happened to many, many others. The only reason a skater hasn’t died in our neighborhood is because, so far, drivers’ reflexes have been quick enough. That good luck can’t last forever.”

I also asked Nagle about my concerns that his efforts to ban skateboarding might creep over into downhill bicycling and Zoobomb.

“Neither I nor anyone else in the neighborhood, as far as I know, is trying to put an end to Zoobomb. Not now, and not in the future. Zoobomb as it’s practiced these days really isn’t a big deal. It’s generally a 5 or 10 minute burst of bike traffic down Fairview at 10:45 on Sunday nights. And bikes, as we all know, are an uncommonly quiet form of transportation. The Zoobomb noise issue, with all the yelling and horn-blowing, was worse in the past, but the “ride like a ninja, not like a pirate” ethic seems to have taken hold among the majority of Zoobombers, with the occasional annoying exception.”

Nagle claims that he worked in good faith with the skateboarding community but once they learned unpermitted events were being organized, they broke off talks. “After months of negotiating with skaters and the city for this exceedingly modest program, we learned that the skaters were continuing to organize and promote illegal skate races in the neighborhood, and we decided we’d had enough. They just weren’t acting in good faith.”

While we wait to see how this issue unfolds, I want to share the text of the ordinance that will be in front of City Council on June 27th. Read it below (Note: This new ordinance amends existing city code. Underlined portions are the new language and striked-through text is old language that would no longer apply.):

Here’s a map of the roads where skateboarding would be prohibited if this ordinance passes (Please note: When originally published yesterday, this map contained an error. It showed SW Kingston being closed all the way from Tichener to the Zoo. That was incorrect. Sorry):

ORDINANCE No.

Amend Code to prohibit the use of skateboards or other similar devices in the neighborhoods surrounding Washington Park (Ordinance; amend Code Section 16.70.410)

Section 1. Council Finds:

On December 27, 2000, the City Council adopted Ordinance No. 175211, prohibiting the use of in-line skates, skateboards, scooters, or other similar devices powered exclusively by human power upon any sidewalk within a specified bounded area;

In recent years, skateboard traffic has increased, especially the Washington Park neighborhood as a consequence of its unique position between the Washington Park MAX station and the Goose Hollow MAX station, which allows skateboarders to use the MAX as a shuttle to perform repeated high-speed runs through the neighborhood;

Skateboarders use neighborhood streets as a venue for an extreme thrill sport, and not as a means of transportation for which the streets were designed;

Many skateboarders who use such streets frequently violate traffic laws by staging races, running stop signs, veering into the oncoming lane, speeding, failing to wear lights and reflectors and/or safety helmets and padding, and failing to yield to pedestrians;

NOW, THEREFORE, the Council directs:

Section 16.70.410 of the City Code is amended as follows:
  
A. No person may use roller skates, including in-line skates, skateboards, scooters, or other similar devices powered exclusively by human power upon any sidewalk within the area bounded by and including SW Jefferson, Naito Parkway, NW Hoyt and 13th Avenue. The middle and bisecting sidewalks in the Park Blocks are considered sidewalks for the purposes of this subsection. The penalty for failing to follow the rules of this subsection shall be a maximum fine of $25.
 
B. No person may use roller skates, including in-line skates, skateboards, scooters, or other similar devices powered exclusively by human power upon any street, roadway or sidewalk on 1. SW 5th or 6th Avenues between SW Lincoln and Burnside; , and on 2. NW 5th or 6th Avenues between Burnside and Union Station. The penalty for failing to follow the rules of this subsection shall be a maximum fine of $25.

C. No person may use roller skates, including in-line skates, skateboards, scooters, or other similar devices powered exclusively by human power upon any street, roadway or sidewalk on 1. SW Fairview Boulevard between SW Knights Boulevard and SW Kingston Avenue; 2. SW Kingston Avenue between SW Tichner Drive and the Washington Park entrance; 3. SW Tichner Drive between SW Kingston Avenue and SW Marconi Avenue; 4. SW Marconi Avenue; 5. SW Park Place between SW Marconi Avenue and SW Wright Avenue; 6. SW Lafayette Place; 7. SW Hampshire Street between SW Lafayette Place and SW Champlain Drive; 8. SW Champlain Drive between SW Hampshire Street and SW Rutland Terrace; 9. SW Rutland Terrace; and 10. West Burnside Street from Skyline Boulevard to SW Vista Avenue.
 
D. C. All persons under 16 years of age shall wear protective headgear when using roller skates, including in-line skates, skateboards, scooters, or other similar devices powered exclusively by human power upon any street, sidewalk, or bridge. The penalty for failure to wear protective headgear as required in this subsection shall be a maximum fine of $25.
 
E. D. All persons using roller skates, including in-line skates, skateboards, scooters, or other similar devices powered exclusively by human power upon any street or sidewalk between the hours of sunset and sunrise must be equipped with and use lighting equipment that shows a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front of the device.

F. All persons using roller skates, including in-line skates, skateboards, scooters, or other similar devices powered exclusively by human power upon any street or sidewalk between the hours of sunset and sunrise must be equipped with and use lighting equipment that has a red reflector or lighting device or material of such size or characteristic and so mounted, carried or worn as to be visible from all distances up to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlights on a motor vehicle. The penalty for failing to follow the rules of this subsection shall be a maximum fine of $25.
 
G. E. Persons using roller skates, including in-line skates, skateboards, scooters, or other similar devices powered exclusively by human power upon any street, sidewalk or premises open to the public shall be subject to the provisions applicable to and shall have the same rights and duties as the driver of a bicycle as provided by the Oregon Vehicle Code, except when those provisions by their very nature can have no application. The penalty for failing to follow the rules of this subsection shall be a maximum fine of $25.
 
H. The penalty for failing to follow the rules of Subsections A.-G. shall be a minimum fine of $115.

I. F. A copy of a citation issued for violation of this section by persons under 16 years of age shall be mailed to the parents or guardians of the cited person at their home address, if known.
 
G. The Portland Police Bureau shall monitor and maintain a record of injuries and deaths attributed to riders of roller skates, including in-line skates, a skateboard, or other similar device in the City of Portland and report their findings annually to City Council. The first report shall be made on or before October 1, 2001.
 
H. Before this ordinance takes effect, the Bureau of Transportation shall consult with the OMF Risk Management Division to minimize claims resulting from defects in City streets.
 
I. The Council directs Bureau of Transportation staff to meet with members of the Police Bureau’s traffic safety division to recommend and designate “preferred skating routes” in the downtown core area as well as throughout the rest of the City. Bureau of Transportation will report these recommendations back to Council by March 1, 2001. Signage and informational materials will be prepared for distribution by April 1, 2001.

Stay tuned.

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Comments
  • Randy June 12, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    Skateboards are inheritly dangerous for anyone over 25. Perhaps they would be better odd just banning old people from skate boards. Whats next? are they going to ban baby carriages from steep hills incase they get away? Are they going to take the shopping carts away from the homeless people? No more pulling a wagon at the zoo?
    I say get your government off my freedom.

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  • Paul Johnson June 12, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    Two observations:

    1) Seems like the best way for your car not to get hit is to not leave it in the right of way when you’re not using it (ie, put your toys away!)

    2) I wonder what they’d do if they knew that I used to skate the zoo wagons down the hill from Gate G1 (the ticket booths) through G2 (where they take the tickets) to Gate E (by Tiger Plaza) or even as far as Africafe (depending on the wagon) after hours when I worked there…

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  • John R. June 12, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    I live off of Hawthorne. Daily I see incidents where pedestrians and cyclists are almost hit by cars. It’s just a matter of time until someone is killed. Oh wait, there already have been deaths. Does that mean that I get to exclude cars and the dangerous actions of their drivers?

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    • Spiffy June 12, 2012 at 10:50 pm

      no, because they’re doing it for transportation and not just fun…

      or…

      yes, since they could use another street or other forms of transportation…

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  • John R. June 12, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    I live off of Hawthorne. Daily I see near death experiences for pedestrians and cyclists. It’s just a matter of time until someone dies. Oh wait, that’s already happened. Given the safety concerns and the dangerous behaviors of drivers, may I please have autos banned?

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  • John Lascurettes June 12, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    The only reason a skater hasn’t died in our neighborhood is because, so far, drivers’ reflexes have been quick enough.

    I put this on the same level as when someone says the same thing about a cyclist running a stop. People, most of us anyway, without steel exoskeletons are well aware of how vulnerable their crunchy bits are when it comes to driver v. cyclist and generally, generally, don’t put themselves in imminent danger.

    I suspect that most people that say “I almost/could have killed him” are actually stunned that something that wasn’t there a second ago suddenly pops up “out of nowhere” (because they weren’t paying close enough attention in the first place). This causes them to knee jerk slam on their brakes (or swerve to the curb in Nagle’s case) when the reaction wasn’t even necessarily warranted.

    I’ve experienced many times where a driver sees me approach a stop sign at high speed and no intention to run it to stop on a dime when I get to it, expecting wait for the cross traffic with no stop; yet some reactive driver brakes abruptly with an aghast look on their face. The opposite happens even more often, when I have no stop sign and the car on the side street who is supposed to stop goes ahead and juts out just as I’m going through the intersection. It’s invariable that they slam on their brakes, sometimes honking as if I was the one who put myself in harm’s way.

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    • davemess June 13, 2012 at 9:01 am

      I was riding up fairview last month (note riding), and a bunch of skaters came veering around a blind corner at me in my lane. In my instance it wasn’t an issue of me not having quick reaction time or paying attention. What else can I do in that situation besides not ride on the road.

      I don’t know where I really stand on this issue, I see both sides of things. Guess I wouldn’t have an issue with skaters if they at least stayed in their own lane.

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    • Jonathan Gordon June 13, 2012 at 10:05 am

      I’d like to suggest that you consider a change to your approach to stop signs. It scares me when cars approach stop signs at speed and then stop shortly, because I can’t tell if they’re going to stop until they do. For the same reason, I slow down before coming to a stop sign when there are cars at/near the intersection. Biking and driving predictably serve the same purpose: broadcasting your intentions makes it easier for everyone else on the road.

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  • Ryan June 12, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    If Eric is worried about the safety of those on the road in the West Hills, how is raising the fine for the areas including SW Jefferson, Naito Parkway, NW Hoyt and 13th Avenue going to combat that? Nagle, quit your crusade against skate community and learn to work with them. This issue is bigger than your single-minded solution.

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    • dwainedibbly June 13, 2012 at 4:27 am

      Those areas aren’t part of the proposed change. That paragraph is already part of the city code. Proposed additions to current city code are underlined, while proposed deletions are struck through. Anything else is already law.

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      • are June 13, 2012 at 7:48 am

        the increased fines apply to everything, not just the hills

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    • BURR June 13, 2012 at 11:46 am

      I would also note section G of the ordinance, which apparently is being struck out, which requires the police to prepare an annual report of injuries to skaters for city council, starting in 2001.

      Where are the 11 annual reports the police should have submitted by now, and what relevant information do they contain? My guess is that they probably show that this is a non-issue in the big picture

      Furthermore, striking this provision from the ordinance and discontinuing this type of reporting in the future seems highly counter-intuitive, if the city really wants to determine or understand how safe skating is (or isn’t) on city streets.

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      • BURR June 13, 2012 at 11:47 am

        or maybe those 11 reports don’t exist at all, which would be instructive in its own way…

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  • Greg Haun June 12, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    I think “SW Kingston Avenue between SW Tichner Drive and the Washington Park entrance” just means the residential section, not the section connecting the rose gardens to the zoo as pictured. I hope so, certainly.

    W Burnside, that’s not a residential street in that section, that’s as legitimate a place to skate as any big road.

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  • q`Tzal June 12, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    Advocate for the devil here:
    () Surely these wicked skaters chose to do what they do and thus are fully cognizant that there can be some fairly … final consequences in the event of a screw up. Why should we taint their “death thrill sport” with the promise of safety? Isn’t only fun if someone CAN lose an eye?
    () These “horribly” vulnerable auto drivers: what personal injuries or deaths have they sustained from collisions with skaters? Not paint or body damage to a vehicle but personal human squishy harm.
    () There was mention of the lack of noise of bicyclists in contrast to the “panic de jour” skaters, just how oblivious to their surroundings must pedestrians be to not hear or see these coming?
    () There must be preexisting laws that could be used to resolve this issue.

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    • q`Tzal June 12, 2012 at 9:25 pm

      Also:
      () Why the particular paternalistic concern for skaters? Everyday bicyclists and pedestrians are worthy of apathy, nay casual brutality, but actualy concern for skaters? What are their dark motivations really? The devil doesn’t like competition.

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    • Spiffy June 12, 2012 at 10:53 pm

      () Deaf people deserve not to be run over.

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      • q`Tzal June 13, 2012 at 11:27 am

        I agree.
        They should define their concerns honestly, not veiled under the false beneficence of concern for the safety of skaters.

        I’m not going to defend the behavior of the maligned skaters but their right to use, and safely share the road, is legally binding.

        Address the offense not the offender.

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        • wsbob June 14, 2012 at 12:04 pm

          “…They should define their concerns honestly, not veiled under the false beneficence of concern for the safety of skaters. …” q`Tzal

          That’s a whimsical way of framing the issues.

          So you doubt the neighbors have genuine concern for the safety of the skaters? I’d be very surprised if they didn’t have some concern of that kind. Their concerns most likely also arises from stress they’re probably feeling from having to be on high alert for hard to see skaters that don’t have brakes on their mode of travel…skateboards.

          This sounds like another example of people not generally living in the neighborhood, coming in and re-purposing the neighborhood’s streets for a self-serving, disruptive activity, extending a minimum of regard for the people living in the neighborhood. That’s what this issue boils down to: Whether or not the neighbors should be obliged to submit to people informally, unofficially using the neighborhood for a skateboard speedway.

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          • 9watts June 14, 2012 at 12:09 pm

            “This sounds like another example of people not generally living in the neighborhood, coming in and re-purposing the neighborhood’s streets for a self-serving, disruptive activity, extending a minimum of regard for the people living in the neighborhood. That’s what this issue boils down to: Whether or not the neighbors should be obliged to submit to people informally, unofficially using the neighborhood for a skateboard speedway.”

            That is exactly how people appropriate streets in my neighborhood in SE–in their cars. Well put, wsbob.

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            • wsbob June 14, 2012 at 1:01 pm

              Even though they’re much larger, and by virtue of that fact, easier to see than someone on a skateboard, cars using neighborhood streets as speedways is definitely bad…something that’s led to the mixed blessing of speed bump-’traffic calming’ devices. Speed bumps on the streets included in this proposal would be very undesirable, and wouldn’t even be effective unless they were the continuous variety with no breaks mid-span; a big pain in the neck for everyone, that would be due entirely to a very narrow segment of road users.

              To counter the problem it’s having with skateboarders, the neighborhood shouldn’t even have had to resort to going to city council with a proposal to exclude its streets from skateboarding.

              It’s a bit ironic that, according to Arlington Heights Neighborhood resident Eric Nagle, the neighbors were, in meetings and talks, prepared to work out arrangements with skateboarders to have at least some officially permitted skateboard events in the neighborhood…to which skateboarders apparently bailed, choosing instead to continue their recreation with little regard for the neighbors, forcing the hand of the neighborhood to take defensive action.

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          • q`Tzal June 15, 2012 at 10:33 am

            wsbob
            That’s a whimsical way of framing the issues.

            I think the word you are looking for is cynical and stand behind that view of groups of people. In large groups more of our worse characteristics rise to the surface. Individually people are much more kind.

            In this case I honestly believe that the motivating factor that got this issue upgraded from “minor annoyance” to “BIG PUBLIC ISSUE!!!” is the primal fear mongering that comes when “different” looking people are seen in an exclusive and privileged community.

            What legitimizes this issue is the apparent “concern” for the safety of those undesirable outsiders. This is called “Enlightened Self Interest”. While its affects might often increase safety in general let us not gloss over the fact that the motivating factor is anything other than concern for the welfare of dirty outsiders.

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    • Pengo June 13, 2012 at 10:46 am

      (Re: The “human squishy harm” or whatever argument):

      Without getting into whether or not a ban is appropriate (as I honestly don’t know in this case, nor do I have a stake in it either way) I want to ask if people are being genuine with the “you can physically hurt me worse if I screw up, so I get to do what I want and whatever why do you care anyway” bit that gets tossed around here so much or if they’re missing the point intentionally. Seriously, I’d really like to know.

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  • are June 12, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    so the existing ordinance has required the police bureau to make an annual report of injuries and deaths sustained by skaters since october 2001. can we see those reports?

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    • Mark June 13, 2012 at 10:23 am

      Yeah, let’s see those reports. I put more weight behind them than the statements made by the lead complainant.

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  • Spiffy June 12, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    wait, what? where’s the safety concern? all I see is road users being excluded… I don’t see anything making those road users safer… rather than creating safety they’ve decided to just discriminate against an entire mode… so now the people with high-tech skateboards that have rubber tires and brakes also can’t use the road…

    rich/political power… just buy/vote your prejudices away…

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    • Chris I June 13, 2012 at 8:12 am

      Apparently, road users can be excluded because they are using the roads for fun. Driving to get a burger at McDonald’s is fine, but how dare you recreate on our public infrastructure!

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      • Richard Allan June 13, 2012 at 10:40 am

        My dark secret: most days, I enjoy my bike commute. Is it still “transportation” if I have a smile on my face? Any help in clearing up this issue would be appreciated.

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        • HAL9000 June 13, 2012 at 11:19 am

          Here, lets write a law to ban YOU from cycling on the roads, you road-cycling-lover!

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  • Alli June 12, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    I live on Fairview and have no problem with the skaters at all. I also ride a lot and have had no issues with them while riding either–instead, they’ve all been really polite and pulled over for me to pass if they see I’m coasting faster than they are. The real problem on Fairview is the speeding drivers. The speed limit is 25 mph but NO ONE drives that slow, including the school buses and postal workers. I’ve been trying to get the police department to actually get up here for more than a year with no luck at all. The city could make BANK on speeding tickets and drivers running that stop sign at Fairview and Kingston. I want the skaters to stay because they are the only thing remotely slowing drivers down while they drive up and down Fairview.

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    • Alli June 12, 2012 at 11:27 pm

      I should add that I did once see an older woman in a white Subaru actively try to kill a skater while driving down Fairview. She was swerving at him and yelling at him.

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    • spencer June 13, 2012 at 10:31 am

      Agree- the only dangerous behavior I see up there while I’m climbing and descending on my bike is NOT skateboarders, its PEOPLE IN CARS DRIVING WAY OVER THE LIMIT. Enforce the speed limit, and problem is solved. I will for one support the skaters 100%.

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  • matthew vilhauer June 13, 2012 at 12:27 am

    but hellway would still fair game!!! we totally need more boarders on the highways!!!

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  • kgb June 13, 2012 at 6:47 am

    Most of the motorcycles on Skyline are loud, break the law and are just out for a good thrill seeking time. And there are several documented deaths in the last couple of years, I guess I’ll give Randy a call, I wouldn’t want anyone to get hurt.

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  • peejay June 13, 2012 at 7:25 am

    First they came for our skateboards…

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  • Jerry June 13, 2012 at 7:41 am

    Loop hole alert!
    “Section 16.70.410 of the City Code is amended as follows:
    A. No person may use roller skates, including in-line skates, skateboards, scooters, or other similar devices powered exclusively by human power…”

    I can strap a tiny electric motor to my skateboard and ride with impunity!
    If they pass this ordinance I’ll be the first in line for the SKateboard Immunity Device (SKID) consession at the zoo. I’ll make a mint.
    Take that Eric Nagle, Randy Leonard, et al! Bring it on you nanny staters.
    Better yet, park your BMW in the driveway, watch where you are going on the PUBLIC roads, and chill out.

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    • are June 13, 2012 at 7:50 am

      if you are riding downhill, is it human power?

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      • El Biciclero June 13, 2012 at 9:32 am

        G-power, y’all!

        Would it matter how you acquired the potential energy when raising your board up to hilltop level?

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  • martin June 13, 2012 at 7:41 am

    Seems like existing laws about reckless driving would cover any skater who was riding dangerously. Jonathan could you comment on what laws could apply to a skater or bicyclist who was riding dangerously?

    I’m definitely against excluding certain modes of transportation from public roads and also against the government trying to keep people “safe” by preventing them from having fun.

    I understand that it would be a bummer to the rich white folks who live in those neighborhoods to have so much “riffraff” enjoying the public right of way near their homes, but their own rich white kids are probably among the skaters.

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  • Evan Manvel June 13, 2012 at 8:04 am

    I hope Charlie Hales shows up to oppose this at Council. He’s one of our most famous skateboarding advocates and should at the very least oppose the 360% increase in the level of fines for all skaters.

    It’s outrageous that the fine goes from a $25 maximum to a $115 minimum. That’s a pretty steep disincentive to skating for those who aren’t legally allowed to drive.

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  • Evan Manvel June 13, 2012 at 8:07 am

    The other part of this that’s unintentionally amusing is this reasoning: “Many skateboarders who use such streets frequently violate traffic laws by staging races, running stop signs, veering into the oncoming lane, speeding, failing to wear lights and reflectors and/or safety helmets and padding, and failing to yield to pedestrians;”

    Beyond “staging races” and lights/reflectors it’s pretty much exactly what drivers do all the time. And of course, the drivers are doing it with a 4,000+ pound vehicle.

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  • Jake June 13, 2012 at 8:49 am

    Similarly with most bicycle related issues I voice that education is the answer here, not strict laws.
    After a summer of riding these hills about five days a week, at 2-3 hours per session, (approx 150 hours of skateboarding these routes with no incident.) I can say these routes aren’t for the faint of heart, but they are very safe and controlled when used appropriately.
    Unfortunately for the people in the neighborhood* who don’t share the physical perspective of the skater, knowing what it’s like being on the board, and how much control the board is capable of they are left with only their point of view and imagination. And yes, to someone who doesn’t have first hand experience and training, skateboarding looks like a death wish.

    In the evenings the board was equipped with lights, I used a helmet and wore plastic pucks on my hands. Slalom wheels with high grip mounted to an appropriate board kept me safe. Various sliding techniques were used to control speed and to stop (ATMO, more efficient than a bicycle’s brakes.) Now.. I thought this was all pretty simple to understand and sometimes I forget that I grew up competing on a snowboard, which I found is incredibly similar to downhill skateboarding. After taking some of my friends and brother through Washington Park, I realized that these routes can be intimidating to even a competent skater.

    Educating skateboarders beforehand is the answer here. I feel for the neighborhood for all of their reasons as I have seen many riders (young) speeding beyond their capability. In these moments, intersections like Fairview and Kingston do become hazards where a rider might not have the confidence or skill to stop their board. Maybe take it like a ski slope marked with a black diamond: Riders need to know their risks, wear appropriate gear, and ride accordingly. Closing these roads divides the city and ends a legal opportunity for riders to build their confidence as human beings by mastering the hill, learning the some limits of their mind and body and ultimately to have loads of fun so close to home.

    *The Fairview neighborhood although not entirely positive to my riding the hills, were very patient and in some rare instances, supportive. This is contrary to how I feel about skateboarding anywhere else in Portland where I have been physically attacked by drivers using their vehicles as weapons because of their impatience and ignorance to my rights for use of the lane. On SW 12th, one man in a Jeep whipped inches around me and slammed on his brakes. After out maneuvering him I was enraged to the point where I actually believed I could kill someone (him.) Another time on SW 6th an man in a new Volvo with his wife in the passenger seat proceeded to lunge his car at me as an act of intimidation among other things that have slipped my mind, at which point I stopped and attempted to have a reasonable conversation with him and explain my right to the lane.
    If you think riding a bicycle is a tough battle with drivers, try skateboarding. Here is where you will see the violence in man.

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  • NW Biker June 13, 2012 at 8:55 am

    Maybe it’s the cynical lawyer in me, but these words (“or other similar devices powered exclusively by human power”) worry me a bit. How much would it take for that phrase to be construed to include bicycles by someone with an anti-bike bias? Not much. And the new language includes the streets and roads. They may be saying that they have no intent to target Zoobomb or cyclists generally, but with that vague language, they could.

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  • peejay June 13, 2012 at 8:58 am

    So, everything that they’re complaining about is already illegal. Get PPB to bust them for that.

    But, more to the point, when it comes down to limited resources, focus enforcement on where it will have the most utility, or where the most harm happens from illegal road use. I’m guessing that won’t be the West Hills, but I could be wrong. I’m guessing it will be the utterly disfunctional Powell Blvd, or 82nd. And skateboarders aren’t the culprit there.

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  • Dave June 13, 2012 at 9:11 am

    The thing that bothers me about this most, is that if we used this same reasoning with regard to cars, they would have been banned from all of our streets in 1930. I see plenty of people drag racing, flooring it to get around “slow” traffic just to immediately slam on the brakes at stop signs, playing chicken with oncoming traffic to get around people who are “in their way,” reading while driving, talking on phones, etc – we’ve tried to talk to them over and over, and despite the fact that they are one of the top causes of death in our city, state, country and the entire world, and refuse to change their behavior, they are still allowed to do all of these things on our roads.

    I’m not necessarily saying we should ban automobiles from our roads (though it would do us all a lot more good than banning skateboards), but banning ALL use of skateboards, inline skates, and roller skates on these streets because of a few people misbehaving, and apparently no actual harm done? Because we all know that, in the past, when we’ve prohibited something, it’s totally stopped it from happening, and hasn’t just turned normal people into ‘criminals’ overnight.

    *end grumble*

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  • Johnny Tenspeed June 13, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Isn’t this the sort of infringement of personal freedom the tea partiers get all in a tizzie about? Where are they when you need them?

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    • Nathan June 13, 2012 at 12:01 pm

      Whining to the city council about noisy skateboards on their public streets…

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  • Adam June 13, 2012 at 9:54 am

    I ride my bike in the West Hills on weekends.

    I frequently encounter local residents in their cars, careening through the neighborhood as if they are the only entities on the planet.

    I have had a number of close calls with various Lexuses, BMW SUVs and the like, taking blind corners on the wrong side of the road, usually while talking on their cell phones. NW Cumberland, and MW Maclaey, and NW Monte Vista are particularly notorious for this. And if you want to see stop -sign running by motorists on a grand scale, look no further than NW Westover.

    I perfectly understand the need to be concerned about safety. But what I find leaves a nasty taste in my mouth, is the hypocrisy at play here. Motor vehicles are far more dangerous any day of the week.

    If Eric Nagle is so concerned about safety in his hood, perhaps he will consider a ban on automobiles in the West Hills too? After all, it takes two to tango.

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  • shirtsoff June 13, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Skateboarding isn’t a crime. If a near death situation is “inevitable” then it is only natural to remove the most dangerous element from the equation – ban the automobiles and not the vulnerable road users.

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    • middle of the road guy June 13, 2012 at 10:26 am

      It is not necessary for the skateboarders to use those roads. It is necessary for those homeowners to use those roads to get to their houses.

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      • 9watts June 13, 2012 at 12:04 pm

        “It is not necessary for the skateboarders to use those roads. It is necessary for those homeowners to use those roads to get to their houses.”

        I’m curious how you know this, MOTRG? What is some of the skateboarders are homeowners in those parts? Stranger things have happened.
        Something like 3% of Multnomah Co. homeowners do not own cars.

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        • Or, the homeowner’s kids? I could see it being a totally legitimate way for Lincoln High school kids to commute, to ride their skateboards down the hill to class in the morning, then take MAX to the Zoo and ride their boards back down to their homes in the evening.

          This proposal would ban that.

          I say, write to the remaining four members of the Council, and let them know that Randy Leonard is a lame duck, and this proposal should be voted DOWN.

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      • A.K. June 13, 2012 at 12:41 pm

        I understand the point of this argument from the perspective that people who pay to live in that community and spend the most time there should be able to gently shape how that area works. After all, they are the ones who decided to put roots down there, and no one really cares for outsiders telling them how they should live.

        However, I believe drawing the line on what type of activity is being undertaken on the streets in question, i.e. “necessary activity” such as going home or to work, vs. “unnecessary activity” such as recreational skateboarding, cycling, whatever is rather disturbing.

        Clearly there are already laws against types of very dangerous behavior, such as using the opposing lane and not stopping at stop signs. You can only legislate out “so much” danger in every day life. There are plenty of places totally free of personal risk, but those are pretty boring IMHO.

        If you really, really want to control who recreates on your streets, go live in a gated housing community with a strong HOA.

        I find the idea of living next to our city’s largest urban park then being extremely concerned that people use the surrounding area for recreational purposes (including skateboarding) extremely silly.

        Mountain out of a molehill.

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    • davemess June 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm

      But where do you draw the line if the “vulnerable users” are acting unsafely against other “vulnerable users”? This isn’t just a case of skateboarders versus cars. There are pedestrians and cyclists involved as well.

      Sounds like there just needs to be better enforcement, and a little bit of self policing rather than an outright ban.

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  • Jeremy Cohen June 13, 2012 at 10:15 am

    This is a total load of crap. It seems like the things that Nagel complains about are ALREADY illegal. If skaters are using both lanes, that is illegal. If they are in the wrong lane, that is illegal. If they are ignoring stop signs and other traffic devices, that is illegal. What seems to NOT be illegal is a blatant anti-skating bias that smacks of elitism. By banning all skating on these roads–in order to stop what Nagel believes to be annoying recreational skating, he effectively takes away a legitimate transportation option. While I know there are plenty of skaters that use those streets as recreation (which should be just fine, I mean hell, I smile all the time riding my bike–even for transportation) there are also no doubt people who ride their skateboard, rollerskates, scooters, etc to get downtown. I am concerned that a small group of people can get together and eliminate a form or transportation on a PUBLIC roadway. As a cyclist who uses the public roadways daily, I do not like the idea that a grouchy, egotistical neighborhood association can limit road use on the “possibility” of danger. It is plenty dangerous enough on the streets I ride on, but there is little being done about the dangerous element–the car.

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    • 9watts June 13, 2012 at 10:30 am

      Three cheers for bikeportland commenters! You make this all worthwhile.

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    • davemess June 13, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      Isn’t that exactly what happened to get the trails at Tabor closed off to bikes?

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  • A.K. June 13, 2012 at 10:24 am

    I think the council needs to take up the very serious problem of recreational motoring as well.

    Think of how many people die each year because they were hit by someone driving to Best Buy for a DVD, or to the RedBox, or out in the country for a “drive”.

    I’m tired of all the loud recreational driving in my neighborhood!!!

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    • Adam June 13, 2012 at 12:45 pm

      AK – Agreed! Your comment nailed it !!

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  • Joe June 13, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Skateboarding isn’t a crime!

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  • commuter June 13, 2012 at 10:34 am

    When opposing traffic coming around the corner is in my lane, I get mad. Doesn’t matter if you are a car, bus, donkey, cyclist, pedestrian or skater.

    I do a lot of training in the westhills (Fairmount area) and I’ve had many close calls with cars driving in the wrong lane around corners or runners running abreast and taking up a whole lane.

    You can drive, run, skate however you want but when you put someone else’s safety at risk then I take issue.

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  • Steve B June 13, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    There are 485 crashes on I-5 at the Rose Quarter each year. I hear motorists really like taking the curves there as fast as possible. Let’s ban cars from that section of road.

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  • BURR June 13, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    If you are interested in attending the City Council session on June 27 to give public comment on this ordinance, here are some things you should know about City Council process:

    The Council agenda for that day should be published and available a few days beforehand from the City Auditor’s office, here’s a link to the Council agenda online at Portland Online:

    http://www.portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?c=26997

    If this is a ‘time certain’ regular agenda item it will be noted as such and you may not need to be there as early as 9AM.

    HOWEVER, if it is listed on the ‘consent agenda’, that means that city council intends only to vote (usually in the affirmative) and not to discuss, in which case you MUST show up at the beginning of the meeting and insist that it be moved from the consent agenda to the regular agenda for discussion. It would be good to have at least one commissioner on board to make this requested change.

    If it is not an ‘emergency ordinance’ there will need to be a second reading and vote the following week or month (?) before it passes; that’s a second chance to protest if it passes the first time, but the biggest show of support should definitely be at the first introduction of the proposed ordinance.

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  • Sunny June 13, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Let’s look up the driving records of the complainers and see how safe they really are, or are they just wanting to monopolize their own speeding up and down the hills.

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  • Kirk June 13, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Once when I was going down the Zoo Bomb route during a sunny weekend day, there was a person skateboarding in front of me that had the right-of-way and was going through an intersection when a car blatantly ran the stop sign requiring the person skateboarding to jump off his board to avoid being ran into.

    Based on this logic, we should probably ban cars from these roads!

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  • johnny June 13, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    A simple thought. i payed for those roads shouldn’t i be allowed to use them?

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  • Andrew Holtz June 14, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Here’s a copy of a note I just sent Comm. Leonard:
    We are plagued by careening thrill seekers on our neighborhood streets. I’ve lost track of the number of times taxpayers have paid for a new guard rail on a nearby curve. It takes sharp eyes and quick reflexes to stay safe.

    I’ve complained to officials for years, so I’m impressed by the response by Comm. Randy Leonard to a nearby neighborhood (“Gnarly skate news” June 14). I hadn’t thought to ask for a ban on an entire class of road users.

    Maybe the lack of draconian action here is because rather than being startled by a 150-pound kid going 20 mph on a skateboard, we are threatened by careless drivers of thousands of pounds of hurtling steel and glass.

    The CDC calculates the economic cost of motor vehicle crashes in Oregon is more than $1 million a day. And almost every day, an Oregon family loses a loved one in a crash. Safe streets are important, so let’s do more to reduce the real threat. It’s not skateboarders.

    http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/TD/TDATA/car/docs/2010_QuickFacts.pdf
    http://www.its.pdx.edu/upload_docs/1249576796.pdf
    http://www.cdc.gov/Motorvehiclesafety/statecosts/or.html
    http://www.cdc.gov/Motorvehiclesafety/pdf/fatal_crash_cost/or_costofcrashdeaths.pdf

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  • Peter Buck June 14, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Skateboards seem like a wonderfully compact mode of transportation – how many other vehicles can you stuff into your backpack at your destination? Rather than outlaw types of vehicles it seems better to extend existing compliance requirements to the evolving number of vehicle types using the public roadways. Bikes require lights at night and brakes. If skateboarders are legally lit at night and can control speed sufficiently within their lane of travel they should be allowed on the street. I think the challenge is brakes.

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  • wsbob June 17, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    “…Nagle claims that he worked in good faith with the skateboarding community but once they learned unpermitted events were being organized, they broke off talks. “After months of negotiating with skaters and the city for this exceedingly modest program, we learned that the skaters were continuing to organize and promote illegal skate races in the neighborhood, and we decided we’d had enough. They just weren’t acting in good faith.” …” maus/bikeportland

    Examples of questions bikeportland readers have yet to post here in the comments, and which bikportland’s publisher-editor apparently did not ask of Arlington Heights resident Eric Nagel, possibly indicating why he didn’t cover them in his story, are:

    What range of things did skaters and Heights residents discuss at the talks it’s suggested they participated in?

    If at the talks, ideas were brought up in the interest of allowing skating in the neighborhood to continue on some level, while sustaining the safety, peace and quiet the neighbors seek to have continue to be characteristics of their neighborhood environment, what were those ideas?

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