Cape Town speed skater to be charged

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IOL mot pic feb7 speed skater INLSA Skateboarder Decio Lourenco in action. Picture: Brenton Geach

The downhill skateboarder who became famous after triggering a speed camera while hurtling down Kloof Nek Road in Cape Town is to be prosecuted without the option of a fine for reckless and negligent road behaviour.

That’s according to mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, who added “there is no way” the city would unban skating on public roads.

Decio Lourenco’s Spoofing the Cam – Kloof Nek video has grown even more popular since the media first spoke to him this week, with more than 160 000 views on YouTube on Wednesday, up from about 50 000 on Tuesday.

On the video Lourenco, 24, sets off the 60km/h speed camera while going down Tamboerskloof’s Kloof Nek Road at a speed of 110km/h, recorded with a GPS device fitted to one of his feet.

Lourenco said he had previously achieved speeds of between 70-80km/h without triggering the camera.

Smith said the traffic department would scrutinise the YouTube video and the speed camera footage to trace Lourenco.

“Lourenco will be charged with reckless endangerment and he will not be given the option of a fine. The case will be opened with the police and we will ask the director of public prosecutions to prosecute.”

Lourenco did not want to comment.

Smith said skaters did not have the same braking capacity as cyclists to bring their skateboards to a halt when speeding.

“It would be irresponsible.”

“That is why we cannot remove that provision from the Streets and Public Places bylaw. What is do-able is if we consider which are appropriate locations for such purposes,” he said.

The bylaw was under review and the skating community had increased calls to the city to make facilities available as the sport was growing rapidly.

Smith said: “There is no way we are removing the skating provision from the bylaw, it would be madness.”

According to the bylaw, skateboarding is illegal on public roads unless a road has been specifically designated for that purpose.

NATIONAL SKATERS COLLECTIVE

Hailed as “legend” by some, Lourenco and close friend Andre Roux are pursuing their passion for film and have been filming skating videos on a number of city roads.

Marco Morgan from the National Skaters Collective said: “Currently there are no facilities, and longboarding requires us to use roads. It’s one of the fastest growing sports. If we could get some agreement with the city for road closures at certain times then we wouldn’t have any interference with traffic.”

Stephen Hayward, chairman of the Pedal Power Association said: “Everyone must obey the laws of the land. The same way cyclists on freeways should be prosecuted. I understand that there is no place for skaters but there certainly would be a huge outcry if anyone was killed by someone breaking the law.”

MORE OPEN APPROACH

Rory Williams from the Open-Streets organisation who will lobby for a more open approach to how streets are used, said: “I don’t think the skater’s actions should be a reflection of the entire skating community.

“The city should seriously start looking at skaters as a legitimate group of people using the roads and discuss ideas with them which they may have researched on how other countries have accommodated skaters.”

Mayor Patricia de Lille said: “Metro police have a constitutional mandate to press charges if they feel there is an alleged violation of the law. They are completely within their ambit to press charges and the director of public prosecutions will decide whether to prosecute.”

The city’s roads and transport department can designate areas for skating as they did with the Sea Point promenade in September.

The city lifted the ban on skating, cycling and rollerblading on the promenade for a trial period until the end of March.

Officials will review the decision and decide whether to remove the ban permanently.

The Mayco member for roads and transport, Brett Herron, said skaters were allowed only on non-motorised transport lanes if they used skateboards as a form of transport.

Herron will meet the National Skaters Collective in a few weeks to discuss skating as a form of non-motorised transport.

“Where skating is not a form of transport then it has no place on the roads. It is highly unlikely that we will allow skating on all roads but I am certainly going to have an open mind and hear what they have to say,” Herron said. - Cape Times



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