Skaters vs drivers: can’t we all just get along?


Traffic violations. I see them everywhere.

 

I am a skateboarder. I enjoy sailing along on my board. Every time I exit my house and get on my skateboard, yet I have a thought in the back of my mind I could die.

 

I can’t afford to drive a car to and from Citrus College, so I ride my skateboard to and from the bus stop. Skateboarding saves me money.

 

Averaging 7 miles per hour, I encounter many same traffic situations as a pedestrian, including crossing intersections with signal lights to a stop sign.

 

My top speed is 11 miles per hour with my own leg power. That number is higher if the sidewalk I’m riding through is a downhill slope. I can top 17 miles per hour depending on how steep the street is.

 

The California Driver Handbook – Laws and Rules of the Road reads: “Before turning a corner, watch for people about to cross the street. Pedestrians have the right-of-way in marked or unmarked crosswalks.”

 

One day I was skating the sidewalks, when I arrived at a “T” intersection with a stop sign. I was about to enter the intersection, when a driver pulled up but did not make a full stop.

 

The car crossed over the first line, thus blocking the way to the other side of the sidewalk and forcing me to either jump off my board or make a quick turn to avoid colliding with the car.

 

Many drivers seem to have little or no regard for people walking, skating, or biking. Apparently, most drivers play by the “no cop, no stop” rules.

So I adjusted the way I skate a long time ago. I now skate “defensively.”

 

I hear motorcyclists always say, “I see you before you even see me” to car drivers.  I like to think I’m like a motorcyclist, but on the sidewalk.

 

I really do see you before you see me. But when I cross the intersection, I’m helpless. Drivers need to remember to stop before the first line and not cross over it, because I cannot stop fast enough.

 

A near miss in early September left me checking both ways when I cross an intersection, even though I have the right of way.

 

I was standing at an intersection waiting for the light to turn green. On the other side of the street was a teenager waiting to cross as well.

 

Now, usually when the light turns green, I skate to the other side with just two pushes, but because this kid was walking and might get in my way, I decided to walk through the intersection.

 

The light turned green, giving us pedestrians the right-of-way. I start to walk across, and so did he, when out of nowhere a car came to a screeching halt passing through the crosswalk intersection by eight feet, missing the teenager on the other side by no more than 18 inches.

 

I stared in disbelief. We pedestrians had the right of way. We should not have been in fear of our lives.

 

Yet this car almost hit the kid, and would have hit me if I had decided to skate across the intersection.

 

I was furious. I wanted to smash this car with my board. I looked to see this driver’s face, I saw that this person was on their phone.

 

Enraged, I got out of there. I knew if I damaged that car, I would be charged with assault.

Drivers need to understand that a car is a weapon. Distracted driving can injure and kill people.

 

I once asked a highway patrol officer if I could wear a camera, like motorcyclists do with their head cams, and record all these violations. Could I turn then turn in the videos to law enforcement?

 

He responded with a no. He explained that this kind of incident is an infraction, which means that an officer must be there in that moment to issue a ticket, thus dashing my hopes of getting justice.

 

Remember to adhere to traffic rules and watch out for pedestrians, skaters, and bicyclists. The streets aren’t just for cars. Share the road.

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