Skateboarders give road rules the flip

The Eyethu Skatepark in Hout Bay was opened to give skaters a space of their own to perform their tricks and flicks.

Public roads have become popular among thrill-seeking skateboarders, much to to the dissatisfaction of police and locals.

Despite the skate park being open, many skaters prefer to take their “impossibles” to dangerous hills and roads.

Hillary Blackwell from Hout Bay said she has nightmares about her near miss with a skateboarder when she was driving out of Hout Bay.

“Two kids were on their long boards and making their way down the hill when one of them lost control. Luckily nothing serious happened, but I could only imagine if something did and this stuck with me,” she said.

“We have to create some awareness before we are using a death to create that awareness.”

Ms Blackwell suggested that police enforce stricter rules and policies around skating to prevent any irresponsible use of the long boards.

“If these kids are receiving heavy fines or their boards are being confiscated, we can most certainly reduce the number drastically. Right now, they are being chased from one point to another,” she explained.

Station commander Lieutenant Colonel Jerome Syster said Hout Bay Police had seen an increase in the number of complaints relating to young skateboarders using public roads.

“This is dangerous to the children as well as motorists. Parents have to ensure that their children rather to make use of the skate park in Hout Bay,” he said.

Downhill speed skaters can reach speeds of up to 100km/h.

Last year, there were growing concerns around Hout Bay locals as more and more daredevils, mostly children, chose to skate on public roads (“Curb speed skating”, Sentinel News, February 14, 2020).

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

Skaters using Eyethu Skate Park said their fellow skaters out on the road were only out there seeking the thrill and excitement of the road.

Richard Conley, who has been using the park since it opened, said many skaters got bored of skating the same circuit and then chose the streets.

“The arrive, skate the park and they get bored, When they are out there, there are no safety measures and it’s living life on the edge,” he said.

Mr Conley disagrees with the “irresponsible behaviour”.

“It’s dangerous and stupid, because you are not out there alone. You have mothers driving around with their kids and here you are racing down a hill and a mother swerves to get out of your way costing them their life. It’s reckless and irresponsible and that is why there are places for this to happen,” he said.

Ward councillor Roberto Quintas said while no complaints had been received by his office, he acknowledged the dangers and urged parents to assist.

“It is deeply concerning that parents or guardians of young people are not aware of their movements or not imparting the lessons necessary for children under their care in regards of road safety,” he said.

He pointed out that money had been spent to accommodate skaters at the Hout Bay Sports Complex and that parking upgrades at the Hout Bay Beach included features catering for skaters.

“There is also a skate area at the Hout Bay Common for youngsters to enjoy in relative safety. Parents or those responsible for children need to take responsibility, and teach or monitor the movements of those young lives over whom they are responsible, before great tragedy can occur,” Mr Quintas said.

While some skaters choose the safety of the Eyethu Skatepark, others choose the public roads, dangerously seeking the thrill and adventure.