For the past few months, on days when it was too rainy for City of Carlsbad maintenance workers to do their real jobs, employees were sent out to the Carlsbadistan seawall suited in rain gear and armed with cordless drills and glue guns. Their mission: to install skate stopper devices on every handrail, on every set of stairs on the seawall from Pine Ave. to Tamarack.
By the time the work was completed in May, City workers had installed 104 of the aluminum stoppers at a estimated cost of nearly $800 in materials and an unknown amount of labor. All of this work was reportedly to “keep skateboarders, bikers, and inline skaters from damaging the handrails or possibly getting injured.”
Sounds like a great idea, right? While the stoppers may deter skateboarders (and inline skaters) from grinding the handrails, they will certainly not keep them from jumping over the rails as skateboarder Kenny Hoyle did recently on the January cover of Transworld Skateboarding magazine.
More serious, however, are the injuries these new handrail additions could cause Carlsbadistan’s ubiquitous elderly pedestrians who swarm the seawall most mornings. Pedestrians in need of handrails can no longer simply slide their hands down the railing as they descend the stairs. Now, they’re forced to raise their hand every four-to-six feet and then place it back down on the rail to get a new grip on the other side of the stopper. On some of the stairs they’ll be required to do this at least 15 times. Who will be responsible when someone trips and falls thanks to getting their hand caught on one of these obtrusive, ugly skateboard deterrents? The City of Carlsbad, of course.
But that’s not really all. From a damage prevention standpoint these handrail additions seem even less logical. In this installation the City of Carlsbad has riddled perfectly good metal handrails with more than 200 new holes. Every single one of which will eventually become another opportunity for salt air to get into the rails and begin rusting the structures from the inside out.
We’d like to believe that someone thought about this before sending City workers out into the rain with drills and glue, but doesn’t appear that anyone did. The skate stoppers seem more like another example of the City of Carlsbad’s “no can do” attitude when it comes to skateboarding.
If Carlsbadistan’s kids are continually looking for places to skate wouldn’t a wiser use of City funds be to build skate spots rather than spending it (and employee’s valuable time) on a completely futile attempt to stop them? We think so.