S.F. ‘Wild’ event mostly tame

Concerns over traffic chaos and pedestrian perils proved unfounded as hundreds of rowdy but largely law-abiding skateboarders flooded the streets of San Francisco on the Fourth of July.

Up to 5,000 thrashers were expected to turn out for “Wild in the Streets 2007,” raising concerns over the Critical Mass-type event, which included a noontime gathering and a three-and-a-half-mile ride along city streets.

The route — from the Embarcadero to Market Street to Third Street and ending at Cesar Chavez Street — was announced on the Internet and through text messages that morning, leaving authorities little time to prepare.

As it turned out, closer to 1,000 showed up at the ride’s start across from the Ferry Building. Another 1,000 skateboarders joined the ride along the way or attended the party and barbecue at the ride’s end, according to officials at skateboarding shoe company Emerica, which organized the event.

Former professional skateboarder Brian Kanights, 43, came down from Portland, Ore., for the ride. He said that unlike formal competitions, the impromptu ride represented the independence at the heart of skateboarding.

“Skateboarding is all about how far you want to take it,” he said. “You don’t have to have a coach or a practice schedule or uniforms. I think the big allure is that you don’t have anyone telling you how to do it.”

Emerica has sponsored similar events in Chicago, New York City and Philadelphia. Wednesday’s event aimed to underscore the need for more skateboard parks in The City, Emerica spokesman Brian Jones said. San Francisco has just one small facility near the Cow Palace.

“There are more kids that own a skateboard than a baseball glove, yet cities will support baseball leagues and not skate parks,” Jones said. “Today was a power-by-numbers thing.”

As the crowd swelled, skaters performed tricks to cheers and applause. The celebration turned confrontational briefly when San Francisco police removed a newspaper rack that participants had turned into a makeshift ramp. Skateboarders jeered and heckled officers.

San Francisco police Lt. Mike Cleary said he wasn’t fazed by the crowd’s reaction.

“It’s a peaceful group. We’re going to facilitate their ride and give them one lane of traffic,” he said.

Cleary said officers’ experience with Critical Mass — the monthly “unorganized coincidence” in which bicyclists take over city streets —made them well-equipped to deal with the skateboarders.

While riding on the sidewalk could normally earn a skateboarder a ticket, “We’re making an exception here today, because this is pretty much a spontaneous event,” Cleary said.

tbarak@examiner.com


Does The City need more skateboard parks?

Share your comments below.

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

California is set to receive supplies of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is still under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (Courtesy photo)
California could receive 380K doses of new J&J COVID vaccine next week

California could receive 380,300 doses of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine… Continue reading

Disability advocates protested outside the home of San Francisco Health Officer Tomas Aragon. (Courtesy Brooke Anderson)
Vaccine rollout plan for people with disabilities remains deeply flawed

On February 13, disability activists paid a visit to the house of… Continue reading

A Bay Area Concrete Recycling facility that opened on PG&E property in 2019. Former PG&E employees have been accused of accepting bribes from Bay Area Concrete. (Courtesy of Bay Area Concrete Recycling via ProPublica)
Lawsuit reveals new allegations against PG&E contractor accused of fraud

By Scott Morris Bay City News Foundation Utility giant Pacific Gas &… Continue reading

New protected bicycle lanes stretch from the city's Portola District to Bernal Heights. (Courtesy Bay City News)
City leaders celebrate protected bike lanes in city’s Portola, Bernal Heights neighborhoods

San Francisco city leaders on Thursday announced the completion of new protected… Continue reading

A short walk leads to the base of Yosemite Falls, requiring no snow gear except in heavy winter conditions. (Matt Johanson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Snowy destinations abound in Yosemite winter

Those who journey to the mountains discover grand scenery, solitude .

Most Read