Los Angeles skateboarders can still go on high-risk “bombing” sessions, but they will have to abide by new safety regulations because of a city ordinance passed Tuesday.
The City Council voted to institute several regulations and penalties on unsafe skateboarding practices. Riders will now have to ride standing straight up instead of crouching, maintain speeds that will not cause harm to themselves or others, refrain from hitching onto moving cars and obey all traffic signs and signals.
Skateboard or longboard “bombing” runs take place on hills, parking structures and winding roads, or basically anywhere a boarder can build up momentum very quickly. The riders, who usually bend to make their bodies parallel with the road and put their hands behind their backs, can reach speeds upward of 40-50 mph.
Los Angeles Councilman Joe Buscaino proposed the ordinance to stop “bombing” in his district, where he said two young skateboarders had died in the past year.
“Our objective today was to prohibit reckless skateboarding,” said Buscaino. “We are sending a message that skateboarding is still allowed in the city of Los Angeles, but they have to do it in safe way and obey the rules of the road.”
Before the ordinance was passed, Los Angeles did not recognize skateboarding as an official form of transportation, so there was very little that city police could do to stop unsafe skating practices. But now, the Los Angeles Police Department has the power to ticket “bombing” violators and confiscate skateboards at its own discretion.
Although “bombing” has garnered a reputation for being dangerous, many view downhill boarding as a growing sport that deserves recognition from policy makers.
Kyle Chin, an avid and experienced longboarder, is frustrated by the term “bombing,” because he believes it shines a negative light on a sport he believes is legitimate and safe.
“It is a legitimate sport with an accompanying industry,” said Chin. “This isn’t just some fad, the sport is growing and the community is growing. There really isn’t a legal place to do it, so it comes down to personal responsibility.”
Chin, who has starred in a few downhill boarding videos on YouTube, realizes that his sport is viewed as dangerous by many, but he hopes that laws and regulations will help his sport gain some recognition and further legitimize its future.
“You need to look for closed roads or roads that are seldom driven on,” said Chin. “We do need to be sensitive to traffic, and I think that some of the laws that are being passed are on the right track but aren’t quite there yet.”