In the past month, I’ve noticed kids on self-propelled skateboards along the Animas River Trail. Is this the “slippery slope” that many feared when the City Council voted to allow electric bikes on the trail? Or is this just the latest multimodal ploy to open the river trail to motorized travel, thus explaining all the new traffic signs and painted road markings? – Something’s Afoot
Those “self-propelled skateboards” are motorized gizmos that appeal to Our Restless Youth.
And just to be unfair, being one of Our Restless Youth has nothing to do with age, judging by the facial hair sported by denizens of the Durango Skate Park.
But that would be judging.
People who judge are the ones who say, “skateboarding is a crime,” which it’s not – unless you skateboard where prohibited.
Which is just about everywhere.
So skateboarding is indeed a crime.
But that’s beside the point, and saying so only serves to provoke blistering curses from those who can nail a backside 180 kickflip.
Let’s get back to the issue of self-propelled skateboards.
These expensive toys come in three basic models: electric skateboards with a battery powering the back wheels, the odd-looking “Onewheel” that resembles like a fat doughnut in the middle of a plank, or the most common devices called “hoverboards.”
Hoverboards are classified as “self-balancing scooters.” The contraptions are forward-facing, like dorky Segways but without handlebars.
There are a number of reasons to eschew hoverboards, not the least of which is their history of catching fire and exploding. Half a million were recalled last summer for just that reason.
So, basically, hoverboards are Samsung phones with wheels.
Airlines and trains banned hoverboards.
So did the Carolina Panthers NFL team.
Seems that players were drag-racing hoverboards in the halls, thereby posing a serious risk of injury.
Hoverboards have no place in a sport in which 110 of 111 former players’ brains showed signs of traumatic damage!
In any case, hoverboards also have no place on the Animas River Trail.
That’s according to our good friend Scott McClain, parks manager for the city of Durango.
“Hoverboards and motorized skateboards are not allowed on the trail,” he confirmed. “The only mechanical devices allowed are Class 1 and Class 2 electric bikes, and it’s for a yearlong test period.”
Class 1 e-bikes have motors that start when a rider begins to pedal. Class 2 e-bikes have throttles. If you go faster than 20 mph on either class, the motor will cut out.
This is how Durango keeps it classy.
In addition to the Animas River Trail, e-bikes will be allowed (for the time being) on the Florida Road and Goeglein Gulch Road trails, as well as the snowcat trail on Chapman Hill.
As for the “yield” signs flanking trail junctions and yellow road markings on the pavement, Scott said it was to enhance safety and courtesy on busier parts of the trail.
The dashed lines will help remind trail users to leave room for bikers and runners approaching from behind. The solid line will indicate tight curves.
“We wanted to reinforce the message of being considerate of other users,” Scott said.
He assured that the improvements were not some sort of preparation for additional mechanized recreation.
If you want city-sponsored carbon footprint expansion, you’ll have to haul your Bayliner to soon-to-be-open Lake Nighthorse.
Lake Nighthorse is all about mechanized recreation.
Be sure to bring your hoverboard so you can ride it up and down the boat ramp.
At least there will be water nearby when it spontaneously combusts.
Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if your version of a hoverboard is the one Marty McFly rides in “Back to the Future.”