Skateboarders to go ‘wild’ in S.F.

“Wild in the street” has city officials scrambling for details as more than 500 skateboarders are expected to descend onto the streets of San Francisco on the Fourth of July.

As of Monday, no route for the five-mile skateboard ride had been announced, the Police Department had few details and permits had not been secured with the Recreation and Park Department.

Organized by Emerica, a Southern California-based skateboarding shoe company, the free event is being promoted as inspired by Critical Mass, the London-born “Reclaim the Streets” movement and other grass-roots happenings.

The first “Wild in the Streets” event took place in New York City in 2002, drawing more than 1,000 participants. Subsequent events were held in Philadelphia in 2005 and Chicago in 2006.

Emerica spokesman Brian Jones told The Examiner in an e-mail that since the company “works directly with the local skateboard community as they plan their event, we’re not aware as to whether or not permits have been filed.”

Mayor Gavin Newsom said Monday afternoon that he was in communication with SFPD Chief Heather Fong and was waiting on more information about the event, which Emerica billed as a five-mile ride that would include members of the company’s professional skateboarding team and a “giant barbecue and skate session” at the conclusion.

“Obviously I want to make sure people are safe, that’s the most important issue,” Newsom said. “And not just the skateboarders, but our seniors and pedestrians.”

Emerica event organizer Mark Waters said late Monday afternoon that he was working with local skateboard leaders to determine a route, which would be announced today.

Three options under consideration for the ride include one that would begin at Fort Mason and move toward the Marina, another that would begin at Golden Gate Park and head toward Ocean Beach, and a route that would travel down the Embarcadero, starting somewhere near the Financial District and move south.

“Our number-one concern in San Francisco is hills. We can’t take a bunch of young skateboarders down hills,” Waters said, adding that the route would also avoid tourist areas, such as Fisherman’s Wharf.

San Francisco law prohibits skateboarding on any city street and on any sidewalk in any business district at any time.

“It’s going to be awesome,” said one skateboarder, who works at FTC Skateboarding on Haight and identified himself as B-Fox. “Fourth of July, skating around with a bunch of pros — it’s going to be fun.”

As long as the event is done in a respectful manner, Newsom said, he was behind the idea.

Mayor urges respect on ride

Three months after Critical Mass came under fire following a confrontation between motorists and bicyclists, the most recent ride was calm, Mayor Gavin Newsom said Monday.

The monthly bicycle ride, which is conducted on the last Friday of each month, has no predetermined route and is double-billed as a celebration of cycling and a protest for more bicycle right-of-ways.

The March ride garnered an outcry of negative publicity after a cyclist threw a bike at a Peninsula family’s car window.

Newsom, who has been criticized for allowing the rides to take place, gave credit Monday to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition for helping bring peace back to the rides. The group does not organize Critical Mass, but sent out e-mails to about 10,000 people asking riders to be courteous.

“The Bicycle Coalition has been very helpful, respectful, there’s been a lot of communication,” Newsom said, adding that he hoped the organizers of Wednesday’s skateboard event would do likewise. “The people who are participating in this [skateboarding ride], do the right thing and then you can help your cause and not have a negative reaction or the unintended consequence of a few bad apples.”

beslinger@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

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