Sounding Off: Skateboarding got start here

Who are these people? Gloria and Manfred E. Wolff ("City is not a skateboard park," "City must restrict skateboarding," July 16)?

"Is this really the culture of Laguna Beach?" Gloria Wolff asked.

Well as a matter of fact, and if you know anything about the history of Laguna, yes it is. Skateboarding's history was influenced by surfing. The skateboarding and surfing cultures have thrived in this town, producing some of the best athletes, and leading industry people of the world.

"It wasn't until the 1950s, when the surfing craze was in full swing, that people realized skateboarding could recreate the feeling of riding a wave," according to on courtesy of Mobile Skatepark Series. "This connection with surfing gave skateboarding a direction that would influence everything to come, from maneuvers and style, to terrain, fashion and attitude."

Furthermore, skateboarding is an art, and wasn't this city built around art? The surf and skate culture here is thriving. Skateboarding is a way of life here, kids skate to the beach, skate to eat, skate to check the waves, skate to a friend's house and use this fun recreational activity as a mode of transportation.

"Laguna needs to follow Malibu's example," Manfred Wolff wrote. I disagree and say Laguna needs to follow Portland's example of Skate laws. With their new legal status, comes certain responsibilities such, as lights or reflectors at night, yielding to pedestrians on sidewalks, using bicycle lanes when available, and riding as far to the right as practicable in the roadway. Oregon Vehicle Code prohibits bicyclists from passing on the right, and traveling faster than 3 mph in crosswalks.

According to Ray Thomas, a Portland bike lawyer, these are the requirements:

Helmets: Required by law for riders younger than 16.

Lights: Must show a white light to the front and a red reflector or light to the rear when it is dark.

Yield Laws: Must yield to pedestrians, and give an audible warning when passing; must yield to the vehicle approaching on the right in unmarked intersections; and motorists must yield to skaters, bladers, boarders and scooter riders in bike lanes and on sidewalks.

Passing: You may not pass vehicles on the right, except to go around a left-turning vehicle, or when you are in a bike lane.

Speed: No faster than "an ordinary walk" in a crosswalk, driveway or curbcut if a motor vehicle is approaching.

All Oregon laws regarding bicycles also pertain to skaters, bladers, boarders and scooter riders in Portland.

Skateboarding makes me feel free; it is an art form, a way to express myself; there is no right or wrong way when skating down the street. You're in charge of your environment and yourself. As I get older, skating and living here for more than 30 years, I use it as a form of exercise. I walk up the hills and skate down two or three times a week for a little cardio workout. Taking this recreational activity away would be a disgrace to the surf and skate culture that was established in this town many years ago, long before many of the residents that think they are local because they can claim living here for 10 to 15 years.

KEITH "KITO" PEERY is a Laguna Beach resident.

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