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Should Zoobombers fear proposed skateboard ban? – UPDATED

Posted by on June 11th, 2012 at 3:32 pm


Riding down SW Fairview Ave.
(Photo © J. Maus)

A debate has been stirring for almost a year between Arlington Heights Neighborhood residents and people that ride skateboards down the steep hills of SW Fairview Ave.

As reported today by The Portland Mercury, City Commissioner Randy Leonard will propose a ban on skateboarding on certain streets in the west hills. According Leonard’s policy advisor Stuart Oishi, the ordinance is currently being prepared by the City Attorney’s office and will up for a vote at City Council on June 27th.

As news of this ordinance has spread through the community, many people who bike down Fairview for fun as part of Zoobomb are afraid that this could lead to a ban and/or crackdown on downhill bicycling as well.

Long time Zoobomber and citizen bike activist Randy Albright recalls many battles with Arlington Heights residents — especially federal attorney Eric Nagle, the man who’s pushing this current ordinance — in the past. Albright says he feels the skateboard ban is ominous news for Zoobomb in general:

“Currently, the neighborhood association seems a lot more concerned with skating than biking; but they have also tried taking action against Zoobomb several times in the past [by trying to eliminate late Sunday night MAX stops at the Zoo], and in my opinion, success with a skate ban might embolden them to move against Zoobomb again.”

Billy “Bones” Meiners is an active local advocate for downhill skateboarding through his work with PDX Downhill. He’s frustrated by the skating ban ordinance. He feels that Nagle went to Leonard’s office behind his back after many months of good faith negotiations. Meiners is going to rally opposition to the ban when it comes up on the 27th. He also shares the sentiment of Albright about how this might creep over to Zoobomb and bicycling: “I worry that if this passes then Eric will set his sights on Zoobomb next. We cannot let that happen.”

Stuart Oishi in Leonard’s office says bicycling on Fairview has not been discussed at all during his talks about this proposed skating ban with Nagle and other residents. One reason might be that bikes are much quieter (skateboard wheels are loud at high speeds) and bike riders are few and far between compared to the frequent skateboard runs on nice days. But Oishi says it has more to do with the difference between bicycling and skateboarding.

Here’s more on that topic from a phone conversation I had with Oishi today:

“I think it’s basically a safety issue whereas a skateboard tends to use the whole street, back-and-forth, to slow down. Bikes have better braking ability and a better ability to stay in-line… Think of the analogy of a skier versus a snowboarder. I don’t think the neighborhood had too much resistance to bikes… Bikes can actually stop… Not only can a skater not stop as quickly as a bike, when they do, the board can then become a missile.”

Oishi also commented that skateboard riders tend to not tend to wear reflective material or use lights as much as bike riders do. His perspective is that the neighbors are only trying to put regulations in place that will prevent a tragedy in the future.

Oishi points out that the new ordinance won’t ban skateboarding outright, just the “thrill seeking” type. As part of the negotiations on the ordinance, Oishi says the neighborhood mapped out specific streets to remain legal for using a skateboard for transportation. The proposed ordinance would seek to amend section 16.70.410 of the Portland City Code to prohibit skateboarding in the newly defined “enforcement area” and traffic citations for skateboarders would go up to $115 — from the current fine of $25.

In the past, Nagle has pushed for the City’s transportation bureau to install traffic dots or rumble strips on Fairview to slow people down. Thankfully, PBOT remains against such requests and does not plan to install anything like that as part of this recent crackdown.

It’s interesting to note the mayoral politics that might be in play here. Mayor Sam Adams has resided over a period of great calm and collaboration between PBOT, the Police Bureau and Zoobombers. With Adams in his final months, perhaps Nagle sees an opportunity to change the dynamic. It also happens that mayoral candidate Charlie Hales spearheaded Portland’s pro-skateboarding laws and skate-specific transportation routes back when he was transportation commissioner. Another interesting wrinkle is that PBOT Director Tom Miller cut his teeth on politics in this town as a skateboard activist. It was Miller’s work on bringing respect to skateboarding that landed him a job in then Commissioner Sam Adams’ office in 2004.

We’ll keep you posted on how this all develops.

UPDATED, 4:40pm: I got a call back from Commissioner Randy Leonard. He said the neighborhood residents did, “Everything a neighborhood could be expected to do in being proactive about this problem.” When talks broke down between skateboard advocates and concerned neighbors, and it became clear that PBOT wasn’t going to do anything, Leonard felt he had no other choice but to act with an ordinance before the safety issues get worse.

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  • John R. June 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    This is an unfortunate approach to the issue (though not surprising given the Commissioner involved). It is interesting that they are doing this because of “safety” and yet the data does not seem to back this up.

    If Leonard and his staff were really concerned about safety they would be working overtime to help calm the cars in the streets that are killing and injuring cyclists/pedestrians at rates that ARE alarming.

    This is using safety as a smokescreen. It’s disingenious are harmful to the safety conversations the city should be spending time on.

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    • Mike Fish June 11, 2012 at 5:41 pm

      Yes – it’s really residents who don’t want to be responsible for changing their driving habits.

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  • Stripes June 11, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    I think the purported “safety” argument behind this proposed ban is questionable.

    If “safety” is the reason to keep everything dangerous off our streets for our own good, then how about removing every single car from SE Stark St, where I live.

    Quite frankly, as a pedestrian, they put my safety in peril every single time I set foot outside my house. Yet I don’t see Randy Leonard fighting MY corner. (Probably because I’m not rich, retired, and living in the West Hills?)

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    • matt picio June 11, 2012 at 7:05 pm

      I don’t recall SE Stark having *quite* the grade that the streets in NW have, unless you live on the slope of Tabor near SE 70th.

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  • dan June 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    I wonder if Oishi has ever seen the longboarders riding Fairview. Using a Coleman slide, they can probably stop as fast as a bike, and the description of “using the whole street to slow down” doesn’t necessarily apply.

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  • GlowBoy June 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    I’m not too concerned about a slippery-slope argument here, and I think if they proposed banning bicycles on certain streets for “safety” reasons the backlash would be brutal.

    But if they want to keep skateboards off certain streets they can effectively do it already. Skateboards are only allowed on Portland streets if they abide by existing laws for safety equipment (i.e., lights at night) and obey all traffic laws such as signaling. Ever seen a skateboarder signal, or ride at night with lights? I haven’t. (Yes, I realize I’m using the same arguments some people use against bikes).

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  • Rol June 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Pesky public, using the public roads!

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    • Rol June 11, 2012 at 6:44 pm

      Hey richypants, we agree that this “road building” stuff has been a raw deal for you. Tell you what, let’s call the whole thing off. Just buy back the land the road’s on, and repay the money for the building of the road, and the sewers (which I assume you won’t want either) and we’ll tear up the road free of charge. Or you can block off the road and take over maintaining, clearing and policing it. Sound good?

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  • Jerry June 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Outlaw skateboards and only outlaws will skateboard?
    Outlaw Zoobomb and only outlaws will Zoobomb?
    Come on Randy, these people are not hurting others.
    Do your job and leave the innocent alone.

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    • cold worker June 11, 2012 at 6:06 pm

      Skaters are already outlaw punks most the time anyway. Skaters rule.

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  • Burk June 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Am I the only one who thinks this ban will result in MORE skateboarders?

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    • BURR June 11, 2012 at 4:53 pm

      Not to mention that enforcement will certainly be problematic. What is the city going to do, assign several police officers to patrol Arlington Heights for outlaw skateboarders 24/7/365?

      It would seem that the Police Bureau has plenty of higher priorities than keeping Arlington Heights residents ‘safe’ from those darn skateboarders.

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    • Spiffy June 11, 2012 at 6:08 pm

      I’m not a skateboarder but I suddenly want to skateboard in the hills…

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    • Oliver June 12, 2012 at 4:49 pm

      Bah…prohibition always works.

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  • Carl June 11, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    It would seem that a story with the headline, “Should Zoobombers fear proposed skateboard ban?” should include information about the legal differences between bikes and skateboards because I get the impression that banning skateboards (protected by city code) might be a lot easier than banning bicycles (recognized as a vehicle statewide). Do you have any insight, Jonathan, into the legal steps necessary to ban bicycles on specific roads in the west hills?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 11, 2012 at 4:57 pm

      That’s a good point Carl, but I’m not sure it’s necessary at this point to look at it that way.

      You’re right… banning bikes would be much much more difficult given their status as vehicles. However, an outright ban on bikes might not be the only thing folks worry about. There are also other measures that could be taken to make life more unpleasant for zoobombers. what I’m trying to say is that it would be possible to upset the calm that exists now with zoobombing without going for an outright ban on bikes (and I won’t mention them in specifics bcuz I don’t want to give anyone ideas).

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      • Carl June 11, 2012 at 5:06 pm

        That’s fair. I’m not convinced that the slope towards bans is particularly slippery. You’re right, though, that “the calm,” as you put it, might be over. I’m curious to hear from Billy, Eric, the police, Greg Raisman, or anyone else present at these meetings about how the talks, “broke down,” exactly.

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        • BURR June 11, 2012 at 5:19 pm

          My understanding is that there was an ongoing series of negotiations between the skate community and the Arlington Heights neighborhood association, but when things didn’t seem to be going his way, Eric Nagle pulled out of the process and went directly to Commissioner Leonard’s office to seek the proposed ban behind the backs of the people negotiating in good faith on behalf of the skaters and the neighborhood.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 11, 2012 at 5:19 pm

          I asked Oishi about how the talks broke down and that Billy was peeved because he felt Nagle went behind his back straight to City Hall. Oishi said that talks were going along fine, then skaters were promoting a few unpermitted events and that’s what set the neighbors off, that’s what made them quit the talks. I didn’t get into all this stuff in the story because I am more focused on the bike issues than the details of the skating talks and so on.

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          • Billy Meiners June 11, 2012 at 8:09 pm

            Here’s what happened. Eric Nagle showed up to a meeting with his laptop and showed a video of an outlaw race that happened on Zoobomb well over a year ago (I happened to have won that race, which didn’t make Nagle any happier). At that point he began to yell, curse and accuse me of organizing the same event this year (which I wasn’t) and demanded that police show up and crack down on this. Police showed up to the hill and didn’t see anybody there and no tickets were issued. That meeting was back in February and he has not shown up to a meeting since then.

            In the months following that meeting, I have continued to work with PBOT, Police, Parks and Rec., and Criminal Prevention on ways to solve this issue of skateboard traffic on the hill. It wasn’t until last Friday I received a call from the Mayor’s office telling me that they convinced Randy Leonard to push this ordinance through to city council. Needless to say I am very “peeved.”

            Not only have I put in many months, hours and dollars into working towards a positive solution, but many other city employees have done the same. He has wasted our time and energy by not allowing us to implement any of our ideas for addressing this issue. He wants skateboarders gone NOW.

            When it comes down to it, a ban isn’t going to change anything. People will continue to skate the hill and probably more recklessly than before (when skateboarding is outlawed only outlaws will skateboard). If it is already illegal to be up there then why stop at a stop sign? Skaters will have the attitude that they have to outrun the cops every time they skate there and their style of riding will reflect that. Part of me is also worried about residents living on that road taking matters into their own hands by trying to enforce the law with their own methods (which could easily involve hurting a skateboarder).

            All I want is a chance to try and build/educate a responsible skateboard community. As it sits now, the city is taking that chance away from me.

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            • Billy Meiners June 12, 2012 at 11:22 am

              When I say “they” convinced Randy Leonard to push this ordinance through I am referring to the people from the neighborhood and not the Mayor’s office. The Mayor’s office gave me a heads up about the upcoming public hearing.

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        • matt picio June 11, 2012 at 7:06 pm

          Dont’ forget – state law provides for local municipalities to ban bicycling on specific streets. Might not be as difficult as you think.

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          • Carl June 11, 2012 at 9:23 pm

            Interesting point. Do you have examples of specific streets (aside from interstates) where bicycles have been banned in Oregon?

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  • BURR June 11, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Ever seen a skateboarder signal, or ride at night with lights? I haven’t. (Yes, I realize I’m using the same arguments some people use against bikes).

    Actually, plenty of the longboarders I meet riding in the west hills wear helmets and other safety gear and do use both front and rear lights at night.

    Since you don’t really seem to have any first hand knowledge about this, all you are really doing is perpetuating the disinformation being spread by the neighborhood association.

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    • GlowBoy June 11, 2012 at 10:23 pm

      Unlike your average driver bitching about how cyclists “never” obey the law, I am quite aware of the pitfalls of availability and confirmation bias, and I’m honestly LOOKING for the skateboarders who signal their turns and use lights at night. Genuinely hoping to sight such a unicorn. Maybe some of the longboarders on the hill are genuinely doing it, but in all my travels around town (including of plenty of time riding through the west hills) I have yet to see such a thing.

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  • BURR June 11, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Another thing that’s missing from this conversation is that fact that the West Hills include a number of world-class skate routes, including the run down SW Fairview, which attract skateboarders from around the world. I would think that this reputation and the tourism it generates for Portland would be at least as important a part of the conversation as the misgivings of a few Arlington Heights residents.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 11, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Another thing to consider… and I’m thinking this after just talking with Randy Leonard on the phone… Is that these neighborhood folks are very influential and very good at doing what they do (Nagle is an a big time attorney**). As Leonard told me, they have done everything and then some when it comes to alerting the city about their concerns and documenting what they see as a major problem. So, Randy might see his role as simply serving his constituents’ interests and bringing their issue to the full Council for a vote. I’m just saying, consider this from his perspective and than ask yourself how you would respond to the n’hood folks (and yes, it does matter politically that these folks live on this street versus people using the street who don’t actually live there).

    And remember, this will need 3 votes on council to pass.

    **NOTE: I regret my use of the term “big time” attorney. I used it as short-hand for people to know that Nagle is an accomplished attorney. I did not mean it in a derogatory way. However I have heard from several readers that they feel it’s not in good form. Sorry. – JM

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    • John R. June 11, 2012 at 5:15 pm

      So they are 1% ers who alerted the city about their “concerns.” OK, let’s not give him a pass, though. Worried about safety? Let’s look east of 82nd, let’s look at right hooks, or a lack of sidewalks, etc.

      This is about powerful people exerting influence about something that they don’t like in their neighborhood, which just happen to include public streets. The fact is they don’t like the public actually using these public assets in ways they find distasteful. That doesn’t make them less public or make skateboarding more dangerous than biking on Sandy Blvd. It does mean that Leonard is giving in to the cries of some powerful people.

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 11, 2012 at 5:25 pm

        I was thinking that at first too John R.; but I really think this is more than just powerful rich people yielding influence. Not saying I agree w/ how everything has gone so far, nor do I think their wealth and influence is a non-factor here – but the fact of the matter is that the n’hood has presented a clear and present, documented safety concern and they have persuaded City Hall to agree with their concerns. This is also a much more defined (both geographically and philosophically) problem than general road safety issues like we have throughout the city. The super steep slopes and blind hairpin turns are unique to this one area. Again, not saying I agree w/ the n’hood folks, I’m just trying to share some perspective. In other words, the issue of ppl riding skateboards fast down this street is different in important ways than ppl making dangerous right hooks in big SUVs.

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        • John Lascurettes June 11, 2012 at 6:45 pm

          I think you mean “wielding influence,” not “yielding influence.”

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        • John R. June 12, 2012 at 10:27 am

          So you saw Billy’s comment above. Have your thoughts shifted?

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  • Danny June 11, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    This is certainly a complex issue upon which reasonable people can differ. However, I don’t think it enlightens readers when BikePortland focuses on the people proposing restrictions on use of these streets. What is a “big time” attorney? Eric Nagle works mostly on endangered species legal issues for the U.S. Department of Interior. He is good at his job (does that make him “big time”?), but why exactly is his profession at all relevant to questions about whether people should be allowed to skate or ride downhill in his neighborhood? it seems to me that the description of Eric’s profession in the story is a back-handed effort to slam him (he’s a lawyer — eeew!) or suggest that he has some kind of undue influence (after all, he’s “big time”). Eric’s profession might help him figure out how to navigate City bureaucracy, but in my view it says nothing about his character, motivations, or influence. It says nothing about how to balance safety and freedom in the West Hills. I suggest that BikePortland stick to its usually terrific reporting and eliminate irrelevant details that serve as a subtle attempt to kill the messanger.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 11, 2012 at 5:43 pm

      I hear you Danny and I appreciate your critique. I think Nagle being an attorney is important for the public to know because it shows his competence in fighting for an issue and working the system. “big time” is one of my shorthand terms I’ve used all my life to describe someone who is good at what they do and is known for it (I first started using it in my basketball days and it was a huge compliment to call someone a “big time player”).

      Often on this site, because I believe in and advocate for bicycles, people jump to conclusions about my motives and tone… People assume I am always anti-car, anti-big business, and so on, even when that’s not the case. This might be one of those instances. Pls try to not read more into my writing than I intend. Thanks.

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  • dwainedibbly June 11, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    I guess I need to hurry up & buy Mrs Dibbly a longboard. Do they make tandems?

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  • Spiffy June 11, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    UPDATED, 4:40pm: what safety concerns?!?! they’re perceived concerns? if there haven’t been any accidents then they’re wasting the city’s time… people have been skateboarding just fine… without safety concerns… it’s people wanting to oppress us that make up these concerns…

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    • matt picio June 11, 2012 at 7:10 pm

      Right, because it’s impossible to be concerned *before* an accident actually occurs. (end sarcasm) They have a legitimate concern, and skateboards do not have the same safety devices for braking as a bicycle. The reaction might be overboard, but the concerns are valid. Advocates of skateboarding should be talking to the neighborhood and Randy Leonard about alternate ways to allay the concerns of the neighborhood rather than simply saying “F you, we’re going to ride anyway”.

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      • Psyfalcon June 11, 2012 at 8:42 pm

        If there haven’t been any incidents? How long is a concern valid?

        Are there existing regulations that are being ignored? Don’t cross the center line? Stay to the right on streets without one? Stop signs at a high rate of speed? If these are issues leading to safety concerns, why is there no current enforcement? Where will enforcement materialize from with a new law?

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  • Jeremy Cohen June 11, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    I am concerned that our City Council would hear this issue. I am sure the folks up on the hill are “worried” about skating on the hill, but this reeks of stereotype and assumption. Are there any documented injuries to people or property as a result of longboarding? I think my hackles rose when there was an assumption based statement about the “analogy between skiers and snowboarders” As a skier AND snowboarder, I know the “differences” between the two forms of snow-sliding are less about travel patterns and more about culture. Anyone who ever skied or snowboarded with my brother and I would see immediately the out of control, side to side nutjob is my brother…ON SKIS, while I remain in control, carving tight turns with my snowboard. Do longboards carve turns, yes. Does every longboard carve turns across the whole street the whole time? NO. Is that already illegal? Yes. Why do we need another code to make what is illegal (using both lanes) *more* illegal, while making something legitimate now illegal. Sounds like a whole bunch of assumptions and stereotypes thrown at skaters (who already have plenty to combat in the stereotype department). I hope the council has the sense to stop this overreaching bit of code.

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    • encephalopath June 11, 2012 at 6:33 pm

      A little LEO patrol work up there up there mighty go a long way to assuage neighborhood concerns instead of creating a law with penalties to solve a problem that may not actually exist (what injury accidents?)

      If cars on those roads might as some point injure of kill people, maybe we should ban those too, right now, before something terrible happens.

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    • matt picio June 11, 2012 at 7:13 pm

      Those are good points – is someone in the skater community stepping up to explain that to the council and the neighborhood? If not, then why not? Stereotypes need to be actively combated. Some folks aren’t going to listen, but if no one steps up to dispel the myths, the stereotypes will definitely remain.

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      • Billy Meiners June 11, 2012 at 8:16 pm

        A few skateboarders went to the first meeting that the neighborhood association held towards the end of last summer and it wasn’t pretty. Some of their concerns were legitimate and others were outrageous. One of my friends went to this meeting and asked of the residents to come to a local event to see what kind of community we have. The response he was given was, “A community!?! You mean like a community of drunk drivers!?!”

        Since then Eric Nagle was the only person (from the neighborhood) to attend meetings that had people from PBOT, Police, Parks and Rec., and Criminal Prevention. He left a while ago and we continued to work on a positive solution to this issue.

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  • Zimmerman June 11, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    “Bikes have better braking ability and a better ability to stay in-line… Think of the analogy of a skier versus a snowboarder.”

    Interesting. I’ve been successfully stopping my snowboard since 1986.

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  • West Hills Richard! June 11, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Does anyone who is pro long boarding down Fairview actually own property in Arlington Heights? I do and actually had a home sale fall through directly related to the skate board issue. I have picked up at least five seriously injured people off the street in my 4 years living on Fairview. Not to mention dozens of altercations with boarders weaving in front of my car down Fairview. Additionally my young children get to hear f-bombs all day on nice days when the skaters are out in force and find it amusing to swear and yell at the residents on there way down. Yes there are many who are responsible and respectful to the neighborhood…..however there are many bad apples who have ruined it for the rest. Ban them from the neighborhood Randy!

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    • Psyfalcon June 11, 2012 at 10:30 pm

      How did a home sale fall through? Sounds like you’re trying to move out, you wont have to worry anymore.

      “Not to mention dozens of altercations with boarders weaving in front of my car down Fairview.

      You make it sound like you’re both going downhill, otherwise we’d be hearing about people risking head on collisions specifically. Weaving is one technique to slow down. In any case, crossing in front of someone else is dangerous and illegal. Specifically, it is already illegal.

      Cursing? Really?

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      • Marid June 11, 2012 at 11:28 pm

        I don’t think your response is helping. Probably the opposite.

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    • Chris I June 12, 2012 at 6:36 am


      My quality of life is constantly degraded by my home’s proximity to the Banfield freeway. Would it be fair to the citizens of Portland if my neighbors and I used our influence to have to city ban all driving on this stretch of freeway? The fact is that roads in our city are for everyone to use. As long as no laws are broken, you can’t take issue with these people just because they ride a skateboard.

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    • Nathan June 12, 2012 at 11:49 am

      Your response sounds like that of a frustrated person. Helping out injured folk is very admirable and applaudable. I ride a bicycle on Fairview probably 8 times a week and have possibly seen you and shared a wave and a smile.

      As a heavy user of this road, I know that a skateboard rider uses the street in ways that seem unpredictable to a mode user that primarily travels in a straight line. However I haven’t missed more than 30 seconds of my day by slowing down and giving people riding skateboards a little space.

      Most of the complaints that you have seem to center around not liking the environment that you perceive comes with living on a major skateboard route. That is of the off-chance of swearing and of a hit to your pocketbook when a sale fell through.

      You are living in a community, which means having to interact with other people, all of whom have a different approach to the world than you do. People play softball in a park by my house, grilling and laughing and yelling and making sharp clinking noises. I would be frustrated if the smell of their supper cost me finding a new housemate, but I don’t quite get the urge to ban grills from the park.

      I understand that you may be feeling angry, but I hope you continue to be a good neighbor when people wipe out near your place (it might be me on wet leaves in the fall), and hope that you spend more time looking at this from a wider perspective.

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    • longgone March 28, 2013 at 10:02 am

      Small violins for you WHR.! My kids live in St. John’s and hear F-bombs from random disenfranchized zombies of social dystopia as often as drawning a breat! I suggest you all toughen ’em up a bit. When we run out of food over here, we know where to go.

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    • longgone March 28, 2013 at 10:02 am

      Small violins for you WHR.! My kids live in St. John’s and hear F-bombs from random disenfranchized zombies of social dystopia as often as drawning a breath! I suggest you all toughen ’em up a bit. When we run out of food over here, we know where to go.

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  • peejay June 12, 2012 at 8:39 am

    I have to say this is a great discussion going on, and it highlights how lucky we are to have such a forum. Thanks, Jonathan!

    I hope we can get a good outcome that satisfies the skaters and the homeowners. I’ve been involved with both sides of these issues: I enjoy a fun nighttime bike ride occasionally; and I lived next to a “problem” nightclub that ended with raging street parties under my window three nights a week at closing time. Randy Leonard tried to help out on that bar problem, but the city was unable to do anything to shut the place down (the bar owner ended up skipping town with a truck full of stolen kitchen equipment).

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  • Joe June 12, 2012 at 10:20 am

    I hope this all works out. seems crazy to just throw a ban.

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  • Wil June 12, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    I bike commute on Fairview every day and end up descending behind skateboarders occasionally. Some are pros – steady, smooth, fast. Others are totally shaky: last week the skater I was following speed-wobbled through the right-hand hairpin and missed oncoming uphill traffic by six shaky, yellow-line inches.

    I descend way more often with cars, though. Some of them are pros – smooth, steady, predictable. Some are totally shaky: weaving around outside their lanes, turning without signals, racing to pass and then stopping completely to turn, or pulling out in front of me. Last week a bus tried to pass me on the way up, got halfway past then right-hooked me with the front end to get to his stop.

    Let’s recap with the scoreboard here for a moment. SKATERS: a few dicey ones. DRIVERS: many dicey ones. Okay, moving on…

    There’s also the menace factor. Skaters kill all sorts of, um … worms and stuff when they come out into the road after a rain. I’ve seen the carnage. Or, I think I’ve seen it – hard to tell once car tires obscure the crime scene. Buuut the list of things that cars kill along that road includes squirrels (thank goodness: I could use fewer squirrels on that descent), cats, dogs, coyotes, deer, racoons, birds, skunks (dang) and possums. And, if it weren’t for some quick braking, a cyclist or two. Plus there are all those worms the skaters don’t kill.

    Back to the board. SKATERS: likely kill worms, certainly damage themselves, sometimes dent cars. DRIVERS: kill or smash pretty much everything at some point, including almost certainly worms.

    Well, if safety is indeed the biggest concern then the math really is simple: multiplying the number of participants plus the kill/menace factor to worms yields a compelling reason to go before city council and request a total ban on cars in the West hills.

    That is what we were talking about, right?

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  • Craig Harlow March 27, 2013 at 10:33 am

    Does anyone remember a video produced maybe 6-9 months ago by some Portland downhillers, with a skater giving a lesson on skating safely and politeness? I can’t seem to find it now, and I want to because it was pretty good and pretty funny too.

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  • Carl March 28, 2013 at 11:15 am

    That would be Safety Huey:

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