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San Francisco Skaters Keep Golden Gate Park Smooth

                                              Golden Gate Park Skate                                                Patrol member David                                                Miles goes horizontal                                                doing "the coffin" 

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By Niel Feineman               photo by Verl Meyers

It  was business as usual late last spring for David Miles, president of the 12-member skate patrol that has kept Golden Gate Park skatable for 8 years. But then, while helping some of the 2,000 plus weekend skaters co-exist with the bus drivers, skateboarders, freestylists, cyclists and pedestrians, he came upon a portion of the park the city was repaving.

"1 had heard something about the repaving," Miles says, "but I didn't pay any attention to it. That day, however, I happened to go down JFK Drive (the park's main drag), and saw what looked like someone taking handfuls of tar and rocks and throwing them down until the road became black."

Realizing the new surface would cripple skating in the park, Miles, who is owner of the Freewheeling Adventures skate shop, sprang into action. He went home, immediately drafted a sample letter to the mayor and the parks department, notified 200 local skaters to call or write, and started "making noise."

Because his work with the skate patrol had already given him a reputation with the parks and rec department, Miles convinced the superintendent to ride with him and personally inspect the road. As they drove to the site, Miles emphasized the threat to safety that the new surface posed and the specter of those injured parties suing the city.

"You have to understand that civil officials do not think of skaters that much. Instead they have to concern themselves more with budgets. In this case, the surface they wanted cost five cents a square foot compared to a smoother ofle that could cost 95 cents a square foot," Miles says.

Short-term economic considerations notwithstanding, the surface they had chosen was obviously substandard for skating. So despite some important people landing in "the hot seat." the repaving process stopped. When the repaving resumed several months later. it was with the more expensive finish,

Other skating communities can take a lesson from Miles and his pals. They showed that skaters can take on city hall. And if they approach the process rationally. intelligently and persuasive, they can even make it roll over.

Skating in Golden Gate Park

For one of the country's best skating experiences, head to Golden Gate Park on any Sunday or Mondays of all holiday weekends, The park is closed to automobile traffic and offers an unparalleled chance to enjoy San Francisco at its

finest, The Skate Patrol is located at JFK Drive and 8th, and will happily answer any questions you might have about skating in San Francisco.

Equipment: Miles wears 60mm Roller Bones with Riedell 220 shoes and Sunlight II plates,


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