With the rash of recent injuries and media attention towards skaters, the issue of rider & citizen safety has been brought up repeatedly. Not only by concerned residents, but also by more experienced skaters. The amount of skaters hitting the hills without the proper skills is a newly emerging problem and we are realizing the need to help curtail the problem. What follows is an itemized list of things YOU can do as a rider to help manage risk and reduce accidents while skating with your friends. Consider it mandatory, and not just optional advice.
1. Wear a helmet whenever you skate. Gloves too!
This can be a half
shell or full face, the important factor here is that your helmet is equipped with hard foam and a CPSC/ASTM safety certification label. This will typically be clearly marked on the box as well as the inside of the helmet itself. Wear it when you skate hills and wear it when you go to the store or your friend’s house. It was made for your head and that’s where it belongs.
2. Skate within your limits.
This has been said countless times, but the fact remains that it is still ignored. If you are going faster than you can stop safely and quickly, then you are beyond your limits. Don’t go to the big hills to practice your standup slide game. Straight, low traffic hills are perfect for this, not runs with blind corners and unexpected obstacles. Don’t race down your runs. Have fun and compete at closed events.
3. Spot Corners & do it properly!
If your planned skate route navigates through a corner/intersection where cars may be, have a rider or driver at the corner before you get there. If you see a car, throw the big X up to your riders. Many groms think the objective is to warn the cars about the riders coming down. This is absurd. As a rider you are not protected by the law and need to do everything you can to ensure your own safety. If you see and X, throw a shut down slide or footbreak and pull over. A car can not be expected to respond to you spotting signals and safely navigate the situation. If you have been waved through a corner, do not throw caution to the wind either. Spotters can make mistakes too.
4. Stay in your lane!
Pretty self-explanatory, yet often overlooked. The accident on Camridge in the British Properties on June 5 was a sad and unfortunate outcome of not following this rule. Staying in your lane is not optional, especially when navigating blind corners. If your lane is blocked or taken up by a parked vehicle or other obstruction, come to a safe stop and assess the situation properly. If you were driving a car, you wouldn’t charge a blind oncoming lane either.
4. Practice good etiquette. Pack out what you pack in!
This is critical for preserving your favourite spots. Keep in mind you are skating in other people’s neighbourhoods and when a group of 10-20 kids show up, residents often feel responsibility to baby sit and supervise these groups of groms. Do everything in your power to be polite, positive, and proactive. Don’t use loud, foul language and get in other riders faces if they are being obnoxious. Let them know it’s not acceptable behaviour. If you have been snacking or have brought a backpack or other possessions with you, make sure you take all your litter with you. Stashing gear/food in residents bushes is not acceptable. Earlier this spring, British Properties residents were (understandably) irritated after noticing 3 full garbage bags full of trash had accumulated in their bushes. Leave people’s property in better shape than you found it. Smiling and waving always helps too.
5. Find variety!
One of the best ways to keep heat down while skating is to NOT skate the same hill all day. Keeping your sesh moving helps residents living on popular hills feel less overwhelmed with their situations. Be aware of the vibe in the area you are skating. Is school getting out soon? Are there more cars than an hour ago? Do residents seem to be getting annoyed with you being there? If so, get a move on and head over to the next spot. The chances of having law enforcement called on you after leaving a spot is pretty slim.