Kurt Gallant

Kicked to the curb

Longboarders say they aren’t daredevils, but district wants them off the roads

Longboarders are no longer welcome on Barkley Terrace.

Citing safety, Oak Bay banned longboarding down the steep and narrow street.

Council asked staff to research different traffic calming measures, including fines and physically altering the street to discourage longboarding, which has become a popular activity in the area.

“It’s difficult to ban,” said Kurt Gallant a longboarder who enjoys the Barkley run. “There is always going to be somewhere else (longboarders will go).”

Staff was also asked to identify other streets longboarders may move to, and get a legal opinion on the municipality’s liability should a longboarder be injured.

Gallant, 18, along with two other longboarders, met with Mayor Nils Jensen and Oak Bay police community liaison officer Rick Anthony earlier this month to seek a middle ground solution, which is now moot, at least on Barkley Terrace.

Gallant has been longboarding since he was 15 and works at One Six Boardshop, which sponsors him in longboarding competitions. He said the popularity of the sport is growing rapidly and is not inherently dangerous. He is concerned with young teens and children new to the sport and said they need proper safety education.

“When I was in elementary school we had a bike rodeo, where you learned how to ride safe and stop safely,” Gallant said. “The majority of longboarders are quite safe.”

Gallant said his friends conducted a test on Barkley Terrace, one going down on a bike and the other on a longboard, during dry conditions. Once they clocked 60 km/h, they both slammed on the brakes and the longboarder was able to stop eight feet sooner than the cyclist.

“People look at us thinking we’re out of control but 99 per cent of the time, we can stop in a matter of metres,” Gallant said. “We’re not daredevils trying to hurt ourselves. If it’s not safe, I wouldn’t skate a hill.”

However, council based its decision on four residents who made passionate pleas urging them to ban the activity from their street.

“There have been some serious near misses and it could have lead to some serious accidents,” said John Schofield, who produced a petition signed by 20 people, representing approximately 75 per cent of Barkley Terrace homes. “I’m not against healthy activity for young people and children, just Barkley Terrace is not the place for it.”

“One thing about this street is it’s not designed for this,” said Manjeet Mann, a cardiologist and area resident. “I don’t have a problem with people doing it, it’s just too hazardous. Someone is going to have a fatal, life-changing accident.”

Mann told council that even with helmets and safety gear, brain and spinal cord injury are still a risk as a person’s head can snap when it falls backwards and hits concrete or a curb. He also said helmets cannot completely prevent internal head injuries.

Jensen was sympathetic to the longboarders, but Mann’s assessment won out.

“Listening to the doctor and his view on severe, life changing injuries was a compelling voice we heard tonight,” Jensen said. “The core issue council has focused on is the ultimate safety of the kids.”

Coun. Cairine Green was also persuaded by the Mann’s comments, but extended an olive branch to the longboarders.

“It’s very important to continue the conversation with young people in this community,” Green said. “Maybe we can recruit these young people onto the active transportation committee.”

Before council voted, resident Terry Wickstrom spoke in favour of letting the longboarders continue, equating them to kids playing street hockey who would stop a game and move the nets whenever a vehicle appeared. He said the longboarders wear appropriate safety gear, have spotters watching for cars and he doesn’t want to see a healthy activity for youth banned.

“The street is a dead end with a speed limit of 20 km/h – which is hardly obeyed – and carries little traffic,” said Wickstrom. “It’s a popular walking route, it’s a recreation area, really. There are a lot of people using it and the boys have been remarkably polite.”

Just Posted

Oak Bay High washes cars for kids

Annual Tour de Rock fundraising car wash hits the lot Saturday at Oak Bay High

Get ready for the 39th annual Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon

Up to 9,000 particpants are anticipated for this year’s three-day race weekend

Impaired driver crashes into Victoria police vehicle, injures officer

Cook Street collision occured in the early morning hours of Tuesday

Artists engage as Oak Bay Arts and Culture Fortnight continues

Saturday features walking, bus tours of painted pianos

Victoria police say explicit calls continue to target women

Over 50 reports of unwanted, sexually explicit calls have come in

Reader photos: Greater Victoria’s hazy skies

Lingering smoke from wildfires contributed to the province issuing a smoky skies bulletin

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 14

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

RCMP to search for body after man drowns in B.C.’s Buntzen Lake

Officers and fire crews responded but the man from the Lower Mainland is believed to have drowned.

Police chiefs call for stricter controls on pill presses to fight opioids

Canada’s police chiefs are urging Ottawa to beef up its fight against the opioid scourge by closely vetting people who import pill presses

‘It’s like a party in your mouth’

B.C. creator’s Milkshake Burger makes its debut at the PNE

Vehicle catches fire near Vancouver Island provincial park

Fire shut down Highway 4 in both directions

Most Read