Unlike street skating, which usually happens in pedestrian plazas, shopping centers, schoolyards, or industrial areas, downhill skateboarding is necessarily practiced in the street. Our spots aren’t stair sets or backyard pools, they’re roads; preferably very steep, winding roads with lots of sharp corners.
These roads often run through neighborhoods full of people who aren’t used to seeing skateboarders fly down the street at 35mph. Naturally, these people don’t want to back out of their driveways and kill a passing skateboarder, so they’ll often try to do something to prevent tragedy before it happens. Unfortunately for us, this desire to avoid accidents usually manifests itself in efforts to ban downhill skateboarding entirely.
Over the last few years a pattern has emerged: skating blows up in a city, spots start to get heavily sessioned, someone hits a car or comes close to it, and the locals try to ban skating. We’ve seen it in Malibu, Laguna Beach, Vancouver, and most recently in Portland, where Billy Bones, Rip City Skate, and the PDX Downhill community is fighting a proposal to ban skating in the west hills, a neighborhood known to skaters as Zoobomb.
Nobody wants to have to deal with the cops every time they go skating. Smart skaters know how to respect their spots:
- Skate safe.
- Remember that the road is primarily for cars. Follow the rules of the road. Yield to traffic when you’re riding and don’t hang out in the middle of the street when you aren’t.
- Don’t hold up traffic: nothing enrages drivers faster than some kid on a skateboard doing 15mph in a 45 zone when they’re late for work.
- Move around. Don’t session the same corner for hours.
- Be respectful of the neighbors. Clean up after yourself. Keep off peoples’ lawns. A smile and wave go a long way.
- As the Zoobombers say, be ninjas and not pirates. Be quiet. Leave no trace.
By all means, have fun. But do it in such a way that you can keep having fun long into the future.