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Editorial: There's Strength in (Responsible) Numbers

Last weekend, I got together with members of a group called the San Diego Skate Coalition for their first Super-Roll Ride. The SDSC is a group of in-line skaters, who get together once or twice a week to ride. It was the first time that a skateboarder had ever joined one of their rides. It was a casual ride. Still, I was pushing pretty hard to keep up. I did keep up, despite the fact that they lost about half the skaters they started out with.

As well as providing a social setting for skaters to get together and meet and ride, the San Diego Skate Coalition has two primary goals. First, to promote safety through the use of proper safety equipment. And second, to push for the same legal access to public streets and bike paths for skaters (and with me along, skateboarders) that is currently afforded to bicyclists.

The bulk of the ride was around San Diego Bay, but the last part went through Seaport Village and the Gaslamp Quarter of Downtown--both areas where skaters, and especially skateboarders, are not welcome. Still, we were not hassled. Why? Well, it might have been that the Superbowl was in town and the cops were being a little mellower than usual in front of our sports-loving guests. Then again, it might have been that we looked responsible. Everybody in the group was wearing helmets and wrist guards, and many donned full pads. Many in the group were wearing their SDSC t-shirts, and the lead and rear skaters were carrying flags. It didn't just look like a random group of skaters. We looked like we belonged. They even let us into the Superbowl street party, where bicycles, skates, and skateboards were explicitly forbidden.

Where am I going with all of this? Well, I think we all have a vested interest in making sure that streets are as open as possible to both skaters and skateboarders. Sure skateparks are great, but there simply are not enough of them. Plus, they mainly cater to certain types of riding. Sidewalk surfing can be a blast, but often sticking to the sidewalks is impractical. We need to take it to the streets. And the best way to do that is by acting responsibly. That means wearing appropriate safety gear and as much as possible following the rules of the road. A group of responsible people in most cases will be shown respect. A group of irresponsible people will be considered a mob. You want respect, get your own act together first.
Chris
January 27, 1998

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Nose Wheelie, except where noted otherwise, was written and created by Chris Sturhann.
Copyright © 1998 Chris Sturhann