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SKATERS MAKE NIGHT MOVES : ENTHUSIASTS FINED FOR IMPEDING TRAFFIC.

Byline: Diego Bunuel San Francisco Examiner

A group of San Francisco roller skaters have taken a bad turn - right into a showdown with city police, who are blitzing the skaters with $55 fines.

Skaters say they're just showing off their moves in the weekly Friday Night Skate - a get-together on wheels that began in 1989 and has become something of a city institution. But police say the event has become so huge - with as many as 600 skaters some nights - that it's become a nightmare for pedestrians and traffic.

``It's my understanding that skaters have caused problems with pedestrians and vehicles,'' said Lt. Rick Bruce of the Northern Station. ``We are concerned about it.''

Police began issuing tickets to skaters in Cow Hollow in August after Sgt. Jim Hughes wrote a memo to his squad pointing out that skaters caused problems by running into pedestrians and hanging on to cars, Bruce said.

Though a police spokesman said the department doesn't track the number of tickets issued to skaters, at least 60 skaters were ticketed in one week alone this month, according to organizers of the event. They say hundreds of others were fined in previous weeks.

The Friday Night Skate is a huge rolling circle that gets started weekly at 10 p.m. at the Ferry Building, heads north to Fisherman's Wharf, the Marina and the Palace of Fine Arts, then down to Union Street and ultimately back to the Ferry Building.

Skaters have been cited for skating after dark and impeding traffic and fined $55. Skaters are wide open to tickets because it's technically illegal to skate on streets anywhere and on sidewalks in business districts.

Skaters blasted the crackdown on an activity they view as good, clean fun.

``We have been doing this since 1989, and we never had any problems,'' said David Miles Jr., 40, president of the California Outdoor Roller Skating Association. ``People come here after working all week, they exercise and meet people at the same time.''

Miles joined the skating group when they first came together Thursday nights on a roped-off section of the Embarcadero after the Loma Prieta Earthquake.

To help remedy traffic problems, Miles recently created a volunteer Skate Patrol, including himself, to regulate the flow of skaters and clear intersections. But he said members of the Skate Patrol seem to be a particular target of the police.

Miles and his two teen-age children were all fined last week for participating in the nighttime roll.

City Supervisor Tom Ammiano has drafted a new bill that would allow adults or children accompanied by a parent or guardian, to skate on sidewalks and streets between 7 p.m. and midnight.
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 27, 1996
Words:446
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