The average cyclist and skateboarder might not have a lot in common, but there is one trait they share: a love for steep hills.
Colorado’s undulating terrain makes for some high-speed thrills on both snowy mountains and city streets. Those same thrills, however, can land adrenaline junkies in hot water, or worse, a hospital bed. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is highlighting the legal and physical dangers as it tries to curb a rise in teen skateboarders cruising down South Pinery Parkway, a sloped road in the Pinery subdivision south of Parker.
Scott Wilhelm, who lives on Fox Sparrow Road near South Pinery Parkway, says the problem has become a nuisance for what is otherwise a quiet neighborhood.
“I’m glad [the police are] doing something about it,” he said. “It has been going on for a while now.”
Motorists have reportedly complained that the teens are harassing passers-by to bring them back to the top of the hill. State traffic laws prohibit not only coasting down the hill on any type of skate, but also bar individuals “riding upon any low-power scooter, coaster, roller skates, sled, or toy vehicle” from attaching to a vehicle.
“This type of activity has been growing in popularity and has increased county wide over the past year,” a statement from the sheriff’s office says.
Bicyclists are exempt from tickets for coasting down hills because they are held to the same standards as a vehicle. However, it is illegal for them to attach to a vehicle.
The Pinery skateboarders have been taking to the streets on weekends, generally from 2 to 5 p.m. Police are calling on the public to report the skateboarders, and are particularly leaning on parents to stop their children from engaging in an activity the sheriff’s office calls “inherently dangerous.” Deputies are increasing patrols and will issue tickets to violators, including parents who knowingly allow their kids to commit a class B traffic infraction.
Hanavan says they are cracking down in a proactive bid to prevent serious injury or death.
“We would much rather do an information campaign before somebody gets hurt,” he said. “There are a lot of different things that young people may do that seems like fun, but there is a huge consequence.”
Many of the recent reports have centered on those riding longboards, a longer skateboard that is geared more toward speed than tricks. Hanavan said no accidents have been reported and no citations have been issued, but deputies have talked to some of the teens and their parents.
Wilhelm believes it’s only a matter of time before an accident occurs.
“Something bad is bound to happen when you combine cars with kids on skateboards,” he said. “Most people don’t know to look for that sort of thing. Then it’s too late.”
Deputies have spent years trying to reduce the number of speeders on South Pinery Parkway. The county has increased enforcement and placed electronic signs along the feeder road that warn drivers when they are exceeding the speed limit.