CARLSBAD — Council unanimously supported an amendment Tuesday that would keep rollerbladers and rollerskaters in line on the streets of downtown Carlsbad, per recommendation by the city’s police department.
Under the proposed amendment to Carlsbad’s Municipal Code, police officers would be able to cite reckless inline skaters in the Carlsbad Village. Current language in the municipal code has restrictions on skateboarding but does not include rollerblading.
“The amendment will create a consistency throughout our municipal code that we’re lacking right now,” Chief of Police Gary Morrison said. “Now when an officer witnesses misbehavior, we can issue a citation.”
Rollerbladers will continue to have access to the upper seawall and downtown streets, but will be open to citation by police officers.
Lower seawall traffic will remain limited to pedestrians, while skateboarding will continue to be prohibited on the seawall and Carlsbad Village streets.
“What we’re asking is that anyone using small-wheeled vehicles to exercise caution and yield to pedestrians,” Morrison said. “This has been a collaboration between city partners to get this amendment done.”
Council first considered restrictions on inline skating in January of 2010, but held off on a vote because they faced opposition from residents. They are expected to vote on the new amendment at the next regularly scheduled council meeting.
Those residents who supported the amendment have long expressed concern about Carlsbad’s lack of restriction on rollerblading and rollerskating on the downtown streets and sea wall. Pedestrians often complain about feeling unsafe walking in the area.
“Older ladies have called me and said that rollerskaters bump into them and push them aside when they’re walking,” Councilwoman Farrah Douglas said.
Oceanside resident Pete Biltchick first contacted the police in 2009 about a speeding inline skater to learn that there was no law for police officers to enforce. He has petitioned to get inline skaters banned from the area, and thought the new amendment was not enough.
“Once you give your stamp of approval, what might have been five or 10 rollerbladers can turn into 30 rollerbladers,” Biltchick said. “There’s still a problem with skateboarers because they know the response time is slow.
Other residents were worried that if the city puts restrictions on physical activities like rollerblading, it will seem like a punishment to those that go outside to exercise.
“In all of my years of skating in Carlsbad, I have never seen any type of altercation or incident,” resident Jim Young said of his 20 years in Carlsbad. “It’s more likely that we’re going to die from McDonald’s and not from rollerblading accidents.”
Councilman Keith Blackburn confirmed that the amendment would not prohibit rollerskating or rollerblading in any way; the sport would just be regulated on the streets of Carlsbad.