A North Vancouver man has opened a new front in the escalating fight between homeowners and young athletes over the use of longboards on public roads.
Canyon Heights resident Chuck Duffy launched a petition last week to have the boards banned from district streets after he collided with a rider near his home.
Duffy was approaching a blind corner on Glenview Crescent near Beaumont Drive at about 3: 30 p.m. Feb. 6 when he moved toward the centre of the narrow thoroughfare to get round some parked cars. As he did so, a pair of longboarders rounded the bend, travelling downhill. The first narrowly avoided his truck, according to Duffy, but the second wasn't so lucky; the 15-year-old ran headlong into the front of his Ford Ranger, sprawling onto the hood before falling back to the ground.
The youth was treated in hospital but came out of the crash with little more than scrapes and bruises, according to police. The collision did about $2,000 worth of damage to Duffy's truck.
"I also have a Mini Cooper," said Duffy. "Had he hit that, he would have broken both his legs and come through the windscreen."
Although everyone escaped relatively unscathed, the incident rattled Duffy badly enough that he decided he wanted to do something about it. Last week, he started a petition asking the district to ban longboards from municipal thoroughfares, collecting signatures from neighbours who live on and near Glenview and Skyline Drive, popular destinations for boarders. As of Monday, Duffy had approximately 50 names, representing about 90 per cent of those he has approached, he said. He plans to take the document to district council, who will discuss the issue March 5.
But Les Robertson, a manager at North Vancouver's Rayne Longboards and member of a longboarding advocacy group, says the approach is counterproductive.
Banning the sport from streets won't work, he said, pointing to West Vancouver, which remains a popular destination for boarders despite a blanket ban on skateboards of all kinds.
Rather, the issue requires a more creative response, he said. North Vancouver could introduce a rotating schedule for popular slopes, allowing longboards in certain places on certain days, to introduce an element of containment and predictability to the activity.
It could also help the newly formed Longboard Coalition in its efforts to educate youth in the safe use of the boards, and look seriously at creating a closed course where conflicts with motorists could be eliminated. Robertson said he would also like to see the boards regulated under provincial law in a similar way to bicycles, rather than subject to a patchwork of contradictory regulations at the municipal level.
Serious longboarders, he added, are extremely safety-conscious, and the longboarding community exerts a great deal of pressure on individuals to toe the line in the regard. "Driving requires due care and attention under all circumstances," he said. "It doesn't matter if it's a longboarder or a cyclist or a pedestrian or another vehicle."
For his part, Duffy acknowledged a ban might not put an end to the activity, but it would be worth doing nonetheless.
"At least it might make them not quite so cocky," he said. North Vancouver RCMP say they were unable to allocate blame in the Feb. 6 collision.