Los Angeles to restrict skateboard ‘bombing,’ not ban it


Los Angeles skateboarders can still make those high-stakes downhill runs known as “bombing” — they’ll just have to stand up straight, obey speed limits and yield to oncoming traffic, thanks to a new city ordinance passed Tuesday.

The City Council voted to impose various regulations and penalties on “unsafe” skateboarding and scrapped an alternative ordinance that would have banned it altogether. Boarders must ride upright instead of crouched, maintain speeds that will not cause harm to themselves or to others and obey all traffic signs.

Using vehicles to tow skateboarders will also be prohibited, and speeds while crossing intersections will be limited to 10 mph. Violations of the code will cost boarders $250, though authorities said they will deliver a verbal warning first.

Capt. Nancy Lauer of the Harbor Division of the Los Angeles Police Department said the ordinance provides important specificity to officers trying to prevent dangerous skateboarding.

“We’ve not found existing law to be effective,” she said.

Councilman Joe Buscaino proposed the ordinance to stop the practice of “bombing” in his own district, where he said two skateboarders have died in the last year.

Pioneered by Southern California skateboarders, “bombing” is now featured in several competitions across the nation and was once included in the Summer X Games. The high-speed runs take place on hills, on canyon roads, in parking structures and anywhere a skateboard can build momentum. In a 90-degree crouch with their hands clasped behind their back, downhill skateboarders can reach speeds of 40 to 50 mph.

Residents of hilly neighborhoods say the downhill skateboarders are a menace, appearing around curves suddenly and hurtling through busy intersections.

Regionally, Burbank, Glendale, Santa Barbara and San Diego have laws regulating skateboards on public roadways and sidewalks. Los Angeles County prohibits skateboards on roads with grades of more than 3% and enforces a 10 mph speed limit. Malibu, Laguna Beach and Newport Beach have also instituted restrictions on “bombing.”