San Francisco, Ca.-Everyday, unless itâ€™s raining, Ramsey Garcia, 30, rolls his longboard -- a three-foot skateboard with large black wheels -- to San Francisco State or to work downtown. He rarely uses his a car and he doesnâ€™t have a bicycle; the skateboard is his principle transportation from his house on Sloat Boulevard.
â€œIt takes a good portion out of my daily commute,â€ said Garcia, a native of San Clemente. â€œAnd it gets my heart rate up to keep me warm in a colder city.â€
Longboard skateboards, different than those used for ollies, 360 flips and grinds, are becoming a trendy form of transportation. According to the San Francisco Skateboard Task Force, Garcia is one of an estimated 25,000 skateboarders who live in San Francisco. Many ride their boards as a form of alternative transportation although itâ€™s illegal on city streets and many sidewalks.
â€œSkateboard use, as transportation, on the streets and sidewalks of the city is rampant,â€ according to the Task Forceâ€™s 2004 Skateboard Master Plan. â€œWhile current law only permits skateboard use on residential sidewalks between dawn and dusk, real usage is going on nearly around the clock.â€
For skaters like Garcia the ride can be a haphazard gauntlet of speeding cars, pedestrians, potholes and police.
â€œScary moments? Iâ€™ve had a few,â€ Garcia wrote in an e-mail, â€œa couple of close encounters with cars pulling out into traffic and not seeing me on the shoulder.â€
The law is another risk for skaters. When Garcia rolls to the east edge of the SFSU campus, he always tries to remember if itâ€™s a protest day or not. If a protest is happening, he canâ€™t ride through the sloped campus because University police are on the prowl, said Garcia. A run-in with the police could mean a ticket, a fine and possibly confiscation of his board. Garcia has been warned several times.
â€œIf I see them I try to hop off,â€ Garcia said. â€œOr Iâ€™ll have my headphones on and pretend like I donâ€™t hear them.â€
In California, skateboard law varies from county to county, city to city even sidewalk to sidewalk. State law allows â€œtransit boards, public agencies, and local authorities,â€ to specify where skateboards can be used on public property. San Francisco traffic code states that skateboards cannot be used on any city street at any time, only on residential sidewalks from dawn to dusk.
â€œWhen compared to other locales both in and out of California, San Francisco has the most restrictive code (as of January, 2004) to be found,â€ according to the Skateboard Master Plan.
The problem, said Adam Colton who in 2005 pushed his longboard 3,000 miles across the United States for charity, is that police donâ€™t distinguish between street skaters that often damage property with their daring grinds and longboard skaters, which are usually harmlessly cruising.
â€œUnfortunately, the law doesnâ€™t allow for that,â€ said one San Francisco State University Police Officer.
This results in skateboards being used for transportation throughout San Francisco â€œillegally as often as legally,â€ according to the Skateboard Task Force.
But a few â€˜no skateboardingâ€™ signs and obscure traffic codes wonâ€™t stop skaters altogether.
â€œOverall, this city has revived my passion for skating,â€ said Garcia, who has never been hassled by police for skateboarding outside of university grounds.
WORLD - CITY LIVING
Copyright © 2010 DrSinValley
Skateboarding rises as transportation
Copyright © 2010 DrSinValley
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