Nova Scotia

Longboard mountain surfing a 'disaster' waiting to happen

RCMP are asking the public to keep an eye out for thrill-seeking skateboarders in the valley.

WARNING: The video contains strong language that may offend some viewers

Longboarders (WARNING: Strong language)

7 years ago
Three longboarders weave their way down the steep hill in the Annapolis Valley (YouTube). 2:30

The steep hills of North Berwick have become a playground for longboarders in the area.

For some, it's a thrilling joyride, for others, an accident waiting to happen.

As the name implies, longboards are long skateboards, commonly used for cruising, downhill carving or just getting around.

Jenn Slaunwhite, who lives north of Berwick, right at the top of the mountain along Highway 360, has serious safety concerns. 

“I was kind of shocked actually because it’s seriously dangerous, especially our road here because it’s very steep and the turns are hairpin. So when I [found out] they were doing it here, I was kind of shocked. It’s not a safe thing to do,” she said. 

Slaunwhite said her fear is the longboarders may lose control and cross into oncoming traffic

“This is a notoriously bad road anyway — that’s my fear — that a car would come, not see them coming, or if they lost control. It could be a terrible tragedy,” she said.

Longboarders respond to concern

"There are a few who definitely fear for our safety," said longboarder Zakk Paul. "We definitely appreciate their concern"

Zakk Paul longboards on Black Rock Road North of Berwick. (CBC)
​Paul has had one bad accident that took off some skin on his hip. He now wears protective leather.

But when it comes to oncoming traffic, leather won't be enough.

"If there's a car coming the other way. You have to have an exit strategy to pretty much every situation," he said.

"Yes it's risky. It wouldn't be fun if it wasn't risky," said Don McCabe.

McCabe was so impressed with Zakk and the other longboarders he spent a day shooting photos of them in action and learning how they manoeuver with no brakes. 

"If something went wrong they're very good at being able to just go right down. They got these things in their hand that can make them steer. So I wouldn't be concerned at all about hitting them. Not a bit."

One video posted to YouTube earlier this month shows a group of three longboarders weaving their way down the steep hill near the Canning look-off in the Annapolis Valley.

Another video shows skaters speeding down the Black Rock Road on the North Mountain between the Annapolis Valley and the Bay of Fundy.

A quick search on YouTube turns up videos of people longboarding on steep roadways right across the province. 

Police warn public of thrill-seeking skateboarders

RCMP are asking the public to keep an eye out for thrill-seeking skateboarders in the Annapolis Valley.

Police have concerns that longboard riders are risking too much, illegally cruising down hills on busy roads at speeds of up to 70 km/h.

'It just spells disaster'

Recently, while Slaunwhite was on her way down the mountain, she stopped to talk to one of the boarders.

“I saw two boys and they were walking their boards back up. I basically just said, ‘I want you to consider how dangerous this is, not only for you … consider how I would feel or somebody driving would feel if we came around the bend and did not see you,’” she said.

“He just said ‘Yeah, yeah,’ and then as I was driving away he said, ‘My dad brings me here.’”

Const. Blair MacMurtery, with Kings District RCMP, said at speeds of 70 km/h, a helmet offers little protection. 

“You’ve got to consider those inclines, a skateboard not having the opportunity for brakes and fear of all the other unknowns — the other vehicles, obstructions in the road, a rock, a stick, even a wild animal. I mean, it just spells disaster,” he said.

He said not only is it dangerous, but also illegal.

"Under section 172 of the Motor Vehicle Act it's illegal for anyone to roller skate or skateboard on a roadway, said MacMurtery.

If caught, longboarders could face fines of $147.70 for the first offence.

MacMurtery said if anyone sees someone heading up a steep hill with a longboard to give police a call so they can intervene before anyone gets hurt.

“I get the thrill and I get the challenge but what I don’t get is the danger,” said Slaunwhite.


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