Skate and enjoy

Engineer, 55, seeks to change city's skateboarding ban on trails

Roger Brown may be 55 but that isn't keeping him from riding his skateboard. Leave that up to a city law.

"It makes a nice workout," said Brown, a computer engineer who enjoys the relatively new sport of longboarding. The Santa Clara resident says he rode his board 27 miles in one trip last month.

The Bay Trail in Mountain View, where he once worked as an engineer at Silicon Graphics, is one of his favorite spots. But skateboarding isn't allowed on Mountain View's section of the trail, though it is allowed in Palo Alto and Sunnyvale. A ranger Shoreline Park confronted him after he'd been skating the trails for a year. He'd never seen a sign about the law.

Brown spoke at the May 22 City Council meeting about reversing the ban and has so far gathered 95 signatures of support with an online petition.

The city's rule against skateboarding was created in 1992 and probably targeted a different sort of skateboarder, Brown said.

"The first text message in a cell phone was sent in 1993," said Brown, a computer engineer. "Look what has happened with that technology in 20 years. The same thing has happen with longboards."

Thanks to his $500 board's large wheels and long flexible deck, "This is one thing I could do today better than I did when I was 20 years old," he says.

He says city officials have told him that the concern about skateboards is that they can fly out of control and injure others, but he says that's unlikely on the flat trails.

"On a flat trail the reason you fall is you hit a rock," Brown said. "The board sits there, unless Mountain View has outlawed the second law of motion."

Brown said the city should make skateboarding legal everywhere, as long as someone is going from one place to another. As it is now, skateboards are illegal in Shoreline Park and the Stevens Creek Trail, said the city's recreation supervisor, John Marchant.

"I was not with the city at the time this was established, therefore I do not know the initial purpose or reasons for the code," Marchant said in an email.

Brown is an avid cyclist, but was looking for an alternative form of exercise. Running was too hard on his joints and walking wasn't enough of an aerobic workout, he said. Having been a skateboarder as a kid, longboarding piqued his interest.

His new board allows him to maintain speed without touching the ground by "pumping" or swerving from side to side. The skateboards of his youth weren't up to the task. "You'd go half a mile and huff and puff and say, 'There's got to be a better way,'" Brown said.

Brown said the city need not worry about gangs of skateboarders. The trails are already too boring for the majority who prefer ramps and rails at skateboard parks. "But for skaters like me, 10 miles of nothing, that's perfect," Brown said. "You've got the bay and the birds, a nice breeze, everything."

Brown has received some support from the Friends of the Stevens Creek Trail and has presented the issue to the city's Parks Commission.

"I just informally surveyed our present board of directors and the consensus is that we have no issues with skateboards as long as public safety is maintained," said Friends of the Stevens Creek Trail board member Aaron Grossman in an email.

Brown said he averages about the same 10 miles-per-hour speed on the flats as the Segway scooters Mountain View allowed on trails in 2010, the only city around to do so.

"The really good guys may average 12 to 13 miles per hour," Brown said. "But they are like, Olympic-class athletes."

"I think I've fallen down four times in nine months," he said. "But if you are falling down, you are doing something wrong."



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Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 4, 2012 at 11:12 am

Skateboards are banned on the trail?

Ever walk on those trails? I do with my kids, frequently.

The most dangerous thing there are all the people on bikes who like to yell as they come up from behind you "On your LEFT!"

Let's pretend you're a two year old or a four year old. Maybe you don't know what that means, or you can't react that quickly, or you just plain freak out.

Then they have the nerve to tell me my kid as at fault. I tell them to keep riding and shutup.

The bikes are the issue more than any skateboard. I've never had a problem with someone on skates or a skateboard.

Like this comment
Posted by Mr Advice
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Jun 4, 2012 at 11:20 am

Bikes are the danger, it will take someone getting killed to bring about a solution, remember the initial bike race in downtown MV about 30 years ago? a lady pedestrian was killed stopping any future races.

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Posted by Bruno
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 4, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I love riding my bike on the trail. If someone is blocking my path I just hit the brakes and slowly work my way around them. People shouting "ON YOUR LEFT!" annoy me as well, and I don't want to be one of them. Reminds me of Tea Leoni in Spanglish.

Props to Mr. Brown for skating and sticking up for the cause. I'm in my 30's and have been considering buying a new board for a while now. I think this clinches it!

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Posted by Litsa
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jun 4, 2012 at 1:20 pm

You are only as old as you feel. I am younger than him by a bit (past 30)and I used to skateboard in my teens back in the early 80s.
Just bought a nice Sector 9 longboard and it's a blast.

People should be able to skateboard anywhere bicyclist, pedestrians, and runners are allowed.

- Skateboarding is not a crime

2 people like this
Posted by Multi-User
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 4, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Bike, bikes, bikes! They are always the blame. I cannot walk with head phones in both my ears, while blocking the (multi-use) trail, with my 3 friends as we splay across both lanes of the trail, without some CRAZED cyclist announcing themselves as directed by the signs they posted all over the trail. Its as if people want me to take personal responsibility for my own safety by altering _MY_ actions instead of those crazy cyclists who have to slow down, announce themselves and move out of the way for me.

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Posted by umm what
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 4, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Slow down? IF they announce ass they fly by

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Posted by umm what
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 4, 2012 at 2:51 pm

as (sorry)

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Posted by Sharon Sharahlike
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jun 4, 2012 at 3:01 pm

I always slow down, ALWAYS, because pedestrians are so clueless at times about their surroundings, i have to pretend they are deaf and blind.Nobody can say that this cyclist is rude on the trail, in fact I'm the guy saying good morning to you as I SLOWLY ride by.
If you have small kids, you get extra special care when being passed, slowly enough for me to wave and say "Hi" to the little cutie.

*Its sooo easy to point all blame on others. Then you don't have to try and alter your behavior at all.
I will spare you the anecdotal incidents that I've experience which were 100% the blame of the pedestrian not paying attention to their surroundings, but I certainly will not take the bigoted approach of saying ALL pedestrians are a problem. Assigning negative stereotypes to an entire group of people based on the actions of some is the definition of bigotry.

Remember, for your own safety, Keep right, they painted the lines for a reason.

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Posted by mike
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 4, 2012 at 4:02 pm

So an innocent story about skateboards re ignites the anger toward cyclists at Shoreline. I'm one of them - but I never say "on your left" because it causes so much anger. i just cough loudly - it works. Cyclists need to be the adults in this situation. The trail users include toddlers, bird watchers who straddle the entire path with their tripods, walkers who walk 4 abreast, etc. I recently began using my helmet camera at Shoreline - trust me, there occur incidents every ride - including the two moms walking with strollers that moved into my lane (From the oncoming direction)
The cyclist must also assume that the attitude of several of the above commentors carries over to their behavior on the trail.
Cyclists can control the situation by assuming that anything can happen, and take care.

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Posted by Rigged
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 4, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Since putting this issue on the agenda will not put money in city coffers to pay city staff salary, and taking it on will not likely swing votes for council members, we can expect that this issue will not be acted on.

Staff, EPC, and Council are far too busy
* bending over for wealthy developers,
* lowering our development site parking requirements, and
* rezoning our job producing areas into tenant housing hutches,
* doubling the amount of high density housing as per the new city plan

to find time to work on issues for citizens without financial and political clout ... citizens like skate boarders.

Just look at our EPC and our Mayor's voting record!
Leaves little doubt who's interests they serve!

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Posted by John
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 4, 2012 at 7:52 pm

You speak the truth!

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Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 4, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Just to clarify my previous statement.

I'm not against bikes using these trails. I'm all for it.

And I was not trying to say all riders behave poorly.

It's the ones who don't slow down (as you should regardless of the level of attention the pedestrian may be showing) and yell as they approach that I have a problem with.

Exactly which law/code is being cited here? I'd like to read what is actually defined as a skateboard.

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Posted by Roger Brown
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2012 at 8:03 pm

You can see the link to the city code on my petition:
- Web Link

Or direct link below:
- Web Link

Just says: "Skateboards shall be prohibited in Shoreline Park", with no rationale or explanation. Not even sure if I could walk through the park carrying a board. Now today, I just saw a person riding a skateboard with a long handle on the front like a scooter. So is that a scooter (legal in Mt. View) or a skateboard (illegal)? To me skating is skating, basically you have 1 or more wheels under your feet. Whether that is 2 wheels on a push scooter (legal), 4 wheels on a skateboard (illegal) or 8 wheels on in-line or roller skates (legal), it is all skating. And what about cross country roller skis, not explicitly mentioned in the ordinance, so OK or not?

When I cycle or ride my board on the multi-use trails, I make use of a bike bell to announce my presence while overtaking (I have a bell on the skateboard as well). I find the bell works better for me as it cuts through the ear buds on music listeners better and also for folks for whom English may not be a first language. Sometimes I find that "on the left" causes some folks to move left, others move right.

I also walk on the multi-use trails, so have been overtaken many times. I find that if I just hold my line to the right of the path and don't make any sudden changes in direction and realize that folks will be passing on the left and not jump every time someone passes, all is fine. If you realize that this is not your own private path and is instead shared by a multitude of other trail users, both faster and slower, then you'll be fine. Basically treat it like a road, keep to the right unless passing.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 7, 2012 at 10:15 am

Well said Roger. Bravo.

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Posted by Nukem
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 22, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Nukem is a registered user.

Just ride it. stupid laws should not be followed.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Gemello

on May 28, 2017 at 6:15 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

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