Robert Allen
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

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August 27, 2009
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Breckenridge skateboarding ban returns

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. - Skateboarding on Breckenridge streets will be illegal once again Sept. 1.

"I got to say I'm bummed the skateboard community did not follow through on promises to regulate themselves and enforce themselves," Councilman Eric Mamula said at Tuesday's work session. "Some of them have become very arrogant, I feel."

The Town Council chose to let an ordinance approved last year, which allowed skateboarders on all streets except Park Avenue, to expire. Failure to obey traffic laws was the main concern.

Numerous council members had anecdotes of close calls and agitation - including one earlier that day:

Town Manager Tim Gagen and Councilman Peter Joyce were among town officials driving to a site visit Tuesday afternoon when a couple of guys on longboards carved across both lanes in front of them.

The riders stopped on Ski Hill Road about 100 feet from the Main Street intersection and had a conversation "in the middle of the road" while the town officials waited, Joyce said.

Breckenridge police public information officer Kim Green said that in the past year, five warnings and four summonses were issued regarding skateboarders on town streets. There were also two accidents - one of which involved a skater committing an alleged hit and run.

Though some council members said they'd prefer alternative legislation to just keep skaters out of the core of town, the town staff was ultimately given the nod to let the skateboard ordinance sunset.

Councilman Dave Rossi was the only council member clearly opposed to allowing the ordinance to be repealed.

"I think it's a legitimate form of transportation," he said. "I don't like to make policy on anecdote."

He said he's seen residents of Wellington Neighborhood using skateboards to connect with bus stops.

"It hasn't been the flagrant issue you were worried about, so I'd like to give it a shot to continue because I think repealing it would put people back on sidewalks," Rossi said.

But others said the legislation didn't seem to deter skaters from using sidewalks.

Underground Snowboards co-owner Andy Schultz said Wednesday that he doubts the council's decision will have much immediate effect on skaters.

"It's ridiculous that they're backpedaling like that," he said. "Silly laws like that are just disobeyed. It's only a crime if you get caught, I guess."

He said skaters are "far fewer in number" than cyclists, who often cause close calls.

Police Chief Rick Holman said at Tuesday's council session that he feels there hasn't been much "compliance with the rules," but that enforcement is often not practical.

"I think (it can) create a bigger problem by activating lights and trying to go after these people for what the situation might call for," he said. "We know skateboarders roll through signs and stoplights just like bikes do."

But skateboarders ride in "a really erratic manner," making it tough for motorists to predict what they're going to do. He said the town's transit division is also opposed to skaters on roads because of many close calls.

In June 2008, skaters approached council en masse asking for rights similar to those of cyclists. In the 16 months prior, six citations and about three times that many warnings had been issued.

The council first approved the skateboarding ordinance in part because skateboarding is an eco-friendly, affordable method of transportation.

Longboarding has since continued to increase in popularity.

"We have sold more this summer than the previous summer," Schultz said. "I don't know if people felt like, 'it's legal,' or anything like that."

rallen@summitdaily.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Aug 27, 2009 11:05AM Published Aug 27, 2009 11:01AM Copyright 2009 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.