Resident Diann Keller steers clear of rollerblading on the bike path after being cited by the MBPD last weekend. Photo by Andrea Ruse
Diann Keller went rollerblading on the city’s bike path last Saturday, the same as she has for the last six years.
Only it was the first time she got ticketed by the city for just rolling along.
As Keller cruised down the path past 27th Street, she said she noticed two officers standing off to the side.
“The first one said, ‘Come here,’ and I didn’t say anything,” she said. “I really didn’t think they were talking to me. Then he yelled and I turned around.”
As Keller approached the officers, she noticed that a couple on rollerblades and a man on a skateboard were being written citations. Keller said the officers asked for her identification and told her she would also receive a citation.
“I was in shock,” Keller said. “Like, ‘are you kidding me?’ I was furious.”
According to a city ordinance, only bikers are allowed on the bike path. Pedestrians — which includes rollerskaters, rollerbladers and skateboarders — must stay on The Strand.
“Each year, we receive numerous complaints on both paths from citizens, many of which are bicyclists,” Police Chief Rod Uyeda said in response to an e-mail from Keller last week. “Bicyclists are very adamant about the bike path because they train on it. It is narrow and they claim it is a nuisance for them to go around someone who should not be on the bike path.”
“The bike path is clearly marked with ‘bikes only’ every several hundred feet, so it [the citation] was properly given at least as a point of law,” he added.
Since no further signage is posted and residents and visitors have rollerbladed down the path for years, Keller assumed anything with wheels was allowed. She asked to be issued a warning since it was the first time she’d heard of the rule.
“This is a standard, daily activity that has been happening for many years,” she said.
According to Keller, the officers decline her request to be let off with a warning.
“They told me their superiors said they can only issue citations,” she said.
Keller said she then asked to speak to a superior officer to plead for a warning before handing over her identification and receiving the ticket.
“They said, ‘If you don’t give us your I.D. right now, we’ll arrest you and you can talk to him at the station,’” she said. “I couldn’t believe it. I’m just a girl out rollerblading and now they’re talking about arresting me.”
Keller provided the information and was issued the ticket.
Uyeda later told Keller in an email that all officers have absolute discretion to give either warnings or citations. He also said officers are trained to first receive a person’s information before calling a supervisor.
“There are thousands of people who think they deserve a warning,” he said. “We also cite bicyclists who use The Strand.”
“The people around watching this were shocked,” Keller said. “If they want to start enforcing this, they need to do it in a fair way. They’re not being fair by not properly informing citizens. No one I’ve talked to knows about this.”
Uyeda said that the city has been citing rollerbladers for years on the bike path.
“It’s not that high of a priority but whenever we have time to address it and go down, we do,” he said.
Keller wants new signage that clearly states rollerbladers, skateboarders and other non-bikers are not allowed. She also has plans to start a petition to change the law to allow other wheeled pedestrians access to the bike path.
“It seems a lot more dangerous that we’re supposed to be up on The Strand where people are walking and jogging,” she said.
“You will not only have to convince the policy makers for the City of Manhattan Beach, but the governing body for Los Angeles County, as they own the beach,” Uyeda said. ER