In-line skating event concerns roll forth

Sunday’s forecast for Golden Gate Park calls for sunny skies, temperatures in the 70s, and, to the ire of some park enthusiasts, lots of in-line skaters.

Featuring 300 contestants from North America and Europe, the San Francisco Inline Skate Marathon will comprise a series of in-line skating races on a course that will snake its way down John F. Kennedy Drive from Stanyan Street to Rainbow Falls.

Large swathes of Kennedy Drive will be off-limits to the public from 5 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., according to the event’s organizers — a scenario that has upset some park-goers who say that stretch of road should be open to all, especially on a Sunday, when cars are barred from driving on the street.

David G. Miles Jr., a longtime Golden Gate Park fixture popularly known as the “Godfather of Skating,” said the marathon will take away from thousands of exercise enthusiasts.

“I love skating, and I’m not saying this event shouldn’t happen at all,” Miles said. “It’s just in my experience this has to happen earlier in the day, otherwise you’re just trampling over everyone that wants to use the park.”

Miles also expressed concerns that the race could put pedestrians in the path of in-line skaters traveling 25 mph.

“There will be contestants competing for cash prizes,” Miles said. “Are they going to be able to slow down if they see a woman pushing a stroller across the street? Every media outlet in the Bay Area could be promoting this event, and people would still be unaware it’s happening.”

Chris Duderstadt of the California Outdoor Rollerskating Association, said the event would “make a mess for the thousands of people who will show up to the park on Sunday.”

Lawrence Bisagni, spokesman for The Savant Group, the San Francisco organization sponsoring the event, said more than 500 4-foot-tall bright-orange markers with caution tape will identify the course. In case of an accident, the event has highly trained volunteers to administer aid and an ambulance will be nearby, Bisagni said.

San Francisco Recreation and Park Department spokeswoman Rose Marie Dennis said a permit was granted after The Savant Group agreed to comply with a series of provisions, including providing 30 to 50 volunteers, and signing a document indemnifying The City from any liability.

wreisman@examiner.com

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