Curbing speed skating

Speed skateboarding has become the new craze around Hout Bay. The City plans to introduce measures in order to curb the dangerous activity.

Downhill speed skating can reach speeds up to around 100km/h, but these types of speeds in a residential area with frequent traffic could bring your life to a sudden halt. 

These are some of the growing concerns from Hout Bay locals as more and more daredevils, mostly children, are choosing public roads to carry out this dangerous activity. 

Skaters are often seen racing down Chapman’s Peak Drive, Edward Road, Karbonkel Road and Suikerbossie hill. 

Rowena Booysen from Hangberg said she feared for the kids as they speed down Karbonkel Road “without a care in the world”.

“You often see the children coming down this road and even weaving through traffic. What is going to happen if one of them lands up underneath a car or something?” Ms Booysen asked.

She also raised concerns with regards to the skateboards being used, as many of the boards appear to be in a poor state.

“The children sit alongside this road cheering each other on. They also repair their boards using quick-fix stuff like bottle caps; screws are loose on their boards and when they are coming down here and something falls off, these kids can get seriously hurt,” Ms Booysen said.

She said she has never witnessed an accident of this nature before, but continues to pray for the children’s safety.

Shadrick Lamont from Hout Bay, who travels frequently on Chapman’s Peak Drive, said: “This is an accident waiting to happen on that road due to the fact that these skateboarders take those turns without fear and this could land up very ugly.”

Mr Lamont said he had tried to report the matter to the relevant authorities at the City of Cape Town, but the dangerous activity continued. “Why must we wait for something bad to happen first before we address this, because it’s only becoming more popular and especially among our children. If one of them lands underneath a car, dies, then we have a story to tell, which is quite sad.”

In September last year, Hout Bay saw the launch of its very first skatepark. The Eyethu Skatepark was given the green light after four years of back and forth. The Rotary Club of Hout Bay and community volunteers ran extensive fund-raising campaigns for the project (“Eyethu skatepark opens its doors”, Sentinel News, August 1, 2019).

The site is located next to the Hout Bay Sports Complex and was made available by the City, with the deal being sealed back in February 2016 after final documents were signed with the City’s sport, recreation and amenities department (“Setting a date to skate,” Sentinel News, March 2, 2016).

But locals feel that certain daredevil skaters are enjoying the thrill and rush of being on public roads, with the skatepark being too restricting for their dangerous lifestyles.

A former longboarder, Michael de Vrees, who has been living in Llandudno for the past two years, noticed an increase in the amount of “children” choosing to perform these dangerous acts on the road.

A frequent visitor to the Eyethu Skatepark, Mr De Vrees said more should be done within the skatepark to promote safer skateboarding.

“These children need to know they are playing with their lives here and this is very serious. Yes, it looks fun, but there can be very damaging consequences which could spoil your life forever or even end it,” he warned.

Hout Bay ward councillor, Roberto Quintas, wants to pull the brakes on this dangerous activity by introducing traffic measures to curb skaters.

He confirmed that the possibility of installing rumble strips (grooves within the road surface) to prevent skaters from abusing the roads is being explored.

“Young boys are placing themselves in danger, despite the speed humps and raised pedestrian crossings on some of the roads. It’s a miracle that there hasn’t been a fatality. They speed down and literally get airborne right over those humps,” he said.

He hopes by adding the rumble strips, it would make reckless skating “unviable”.

Mr Quintas said that the City’s law enforcement officers have been requested to monitor the situation on steep slopes and roads.

It is believed that groups of boys between the ages of 8 and 10 years, up to around 15 years, are using some of the arterial roads, speed skating dangerously downhill while lying flat on their backs.

“They are not only endangering themselves, but are also putting motorists and other road users at risk,” Mr Quintas said.