Malibu To Outlaw Skateboarding Daredevilry

You Want Adrenaline?

Try it without the board.

Jean-Yves Blondeau, aka Rollerman, has designed a 31-wheel roller suit that allows him to speed down paved roads at over 60 mph. In the video below, watch him race down the narrow, winding road of the Grimsel Pass, a high mountain roadway in Switzerland.

Malibu Canyon Road just north of Los Angeles is a heavily traveled road that connects the beach to inland areas, with lots of twists and turns and serious sharp drops through the Santa Monica Mountains.

It's scary enough to drive some days, especially when the weather isn't good. Now imagine going down this same road, flat on your back on a wooden board with four wheels between you and the road, and maybe a helmet.

"It's a really dangerous sport," says 24-year-old David Wallace, a skateboard consultant at a Malibu, Calif., sport shop. He has been skateboarding — upright — for more than half of his life. But long boarding, sometimes called luge boarding, does not appeal to him.

"Those guys get going up to 50 miles an hour and people, if they spin out of control, can break their leg, like, in half, because they're going so fast," Wallace says.

The city is not cracking down on all forms of skateboarding, however. In fact, Malibu has a small skate park and plans to replace the current one with a newer, more challenging version.

Wallace skateboards competitively, and he is worried that the long boarders' daredevil antics will turn public opinion against upright skateboarders, too, who also like to skate the canyons. The difference, Wallace says, is that upright boarders use spotters and have more control over their boards.

But Reva Feldman, the administrative services director for the city of Malibu, would rather skateboarders live to complain to her another day.

"Drivers and the residents who live in these areas obviously are concerned, because if you're coming down one of the steep canyon roads, you've got blind turns both going up and down, and the skateboarders are going over both lanes of traffic," Feldman says.

And, she says, long-board sightings aren't rumors or isolated incidences.

"During the summer months, it's very common," she says. "All of the canyon roads — you'll see all of the skateboarders coming down."

One Southern California city has already paid a seven-figure award to a skateboarder injured on municipal streets — hence Malibu's proposed ordinance, which will likely be approved and adopted in early March.

But hiker Mike Smith admits he gets why long boarders find the canyon roads so tempting.

"I guess it is a hazard," he says, "but I understand the adrenaline aspect of it."

Malibu will still allow upright skateboarding in many parts of the city, but in the canyons, long boarding — and all forms of skateboarding — will be illegal soon, and the adrenaline rush will have to come from something else.



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