Broadway Bomb 2011: Know How to Steer Clear of Trouble with the NYPD

Updated 10/5/11 @ 5PM to address finish line/Occupy Wall Street concerns.  

So far the response to the Broadway Bomb 2011 article I posted not too long ago has been huge, and with less than a week to go until the Bomb itself (the weekend starts Friday and the actual race is Saturday) I figured I’d address a concern that a lot of people have been voicing: the NYPD. We’ve all seen the videos of Broadway Bombers having some unfortunate (and in many cases illegal on the NYPD’s part) interactions with the police, but what can you do to prevent it yourself from being one of the unfortunate few?

First and foremost, you should know what your rights as a skateboarder in New York City are. I’m not a lawyer, but the law reads pretty clear in outlining what we can and cannot do. Skateboarding both on the street and, if necessary, on the sidewalk is legal so long as you don’t do so recklessly. That is, you cannot “skateboard on a public street, highway or sidewalk in such a manner as to endanger the safety or property of another” (Local Law 43 of 1996). Furthermore you must adhere to all of the local traffic laws (including stop lights) and must use the bike lane where possible or stay as far to the right as possible as to not interfere with traffic. We all know this will be hard, however, and that the bike lane in New York City is usually really an illegal parking lot. Weaving in and out of traffic will be a part of the race, but try your best to not skate like a reckless bat out of hell and stay to the right as much as possible you should be fine. New York City law also prohibits groups from skating more than 2 across, another law that could lead the NYPD to stop you and one that will be hard to avoid with over 950 people registered. Probably the biggest troublemaker and attention caller for both the NYPD and race officials will be skitching. Skitching is frowned upon heavily by the police, who see it as dangerous to you, the drivers, and others around, race officials have said that it will be grounds for DQ this year too, and while I haven’t seen the rule in writing I’d be careful. NYCSK8 posted a good list to sum things up:

  • Section 1230. These laws apply to skating on public roads, on private roads open to public traffic, and on all bike and skate trails.
  • Section 1231. You have similar rights and duties as are held by the driver of a motor vehicle. In other words, skating on public roads (excluding expressways, interstates and certain other roads) is legal but you must honor all traffic laws (e.g., obey traffic lights, no wrong-way skating, etc.).
  • Section 1233. You may not attach yourself to any vehicle in motion, i.e., no “skitching”.
  • Section 1234. If there is a bike/skate lane, you must use it. If not, you must skate as far to the right side of the street as possible so as to not interfere with traffic. If you are skating in a group, you may not skate more than two abreast. You must skate single file if there is other traffic which wishes to pass by you.
  • Section 1235. You may not carry any article or package which would obstruct your view.
  • Section 1238. Any child under 14 must wear a helmet when skating. This is a $50 offense, the ticket being issued to the skater’s parent/guardian. When skating at night, you must wear a jacket or other clothing with reflective material.
But what if you do get stopped or asked to stop? It’s always best to comply with orders from the police, if you’re skating with a group of people we don’t expect much trouble so long as you aren’t skating too recklessly or posing a big danger to people around you. If asked to stop and you or your group has a camera make sure you start filming your interaction, be polite to the officers and answer their questions as best you can. Chances are if you remain calm and polite you won’t have too much trouble with the police. If you do, make sure you get it on film and file an official complaint.
With what looks to be 1,000 riders coming out for this event there’s a high likelyhood that the NYPD will be on our side, protecting us from traffic instead of pulling us over. Be polite to drivers, pedestrians, and the NYPD and you should have an awesome, problem free day.
UPDATE: Something I didn’t touch base on too much is the fact that the finish line is at the heart of where the Occupy Wall Street protesters have been set up recently. While there is some chance that they won’t be on Broadway/Bowling Green itself, it’s more likely we’ll have to skate our way through the protest. Jeff Vyain of Bustin’ Boards and the Longboard Loft NYC posted a great article on their blog reminding the longboarding community that this is a chance for us to show that we’re “good guys” so to speak, not out to cause trouble or hurt anyone, just to skate and spread the stoke. If we are polite and respectful Occupy Wall Street shouldn’t pose any problems to the Bomb and visa versa. Here’s an excerpt from Jeff’s post:
Aside from obvious safety concerns of riding full-speed down Manhattan’s busiest street, there are protests going in downtown Manhattan (occupywallstreet.org). There will be a LOT of people down there, and we’re not 100% sure where they’ll be yet because they keep moving around. We MAY skate right through a march! On one hand, this provides our longboard community an outstanding opportunity to make an awesome positive impression on a lot of people, including local law enforcement. On another, we’re heading into an area of potential volatility, and because of this, we need to be on our best behavior. So be respectful. I know a lot of people will be racing, but don’t sacrifice the vibe that we’re creating here for the sake of beating the guy next to you by a couple seconds. Be safe, protect yourself, and protect our community. Thanks, that is all!

We’re not expecting this to go down this year…

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