March 27, 1990

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Skate Patrol

By Kristine Weber

SFIndy3-27-90-1.jpg (151728 bytes) David Miles encourages kids to stay on the streets, as long as traffic is blocked off and they're wearing kneepads. Miles is the .president of the Golden Gate Park Skate Patrol, the group of rollerskaters who monitor the section of JFK Drive closed on Sundays and Monday holidays.

Tomorrow, Miles and 14 members of the skate patrol will begin a skate to Los Angeles to spread their anti-drug message. .

Since 1979, the. patrol has skated various long-distance routes to raise money and awareness for causes such as world hunger and the fight against drugs.

"Skate Against Crack and Violence II," a 55-hour consciousness-raising event sponsored largely by Kryptonics Wheels, will stop in East Palo Alto, and City Halls in San Jose, Fresno, Bakersfield and Los Angeles.

The public is invited to send off the group tomorrow at 8 a.m., at City Hall, the Polk Street entrance.

The patrol started in 1979 when roller skating was in its heyday. On Sundays, vendors would line up vans of rental skates and skateboards on Fulton Street. But as these wheels gained popularity, conditions became overcrowded. Arguments broke out among participants because of the limited space.

The Recreation and Park Department threatened to end vending unless each entrepreneur provided two skate patrol people to control the crowd. They complied, but the growing popularity of Sunday skating caused vendors to begin vying for prime marketing space and arguing among themselves.

In 1981, still faced with crowd problems, complaints from the neighbors, and an inability to unify the patrolers, the city banned all vending. The surviving patrolers remained with the Golden Gate Skate Patrol with Miles as president. The crowds died down, and other sports became popular. However, with the advent of rollerblades a few years ago, skating has picked up again.

In '87 and '88 skating started coming back," said Miles. "Spring is here and it's getting busy, but this summer, it's really going to be packed." Miles, who has been skating for over 11 years, has combined his love of the sport with his desire to help kids stay away from drugs and find trouble-free outlets.

"We use skating as a positive message to kids," said Miles. "Kids come by and they see how much fun we're having, they want to learn how to do all of it. They want to be like us. . . Our whole attitude is to be there for people. There are things to do out there other than drugs.

"We're basically the eyes and ears for the Recreation and Park Department," said Miles' right-foot man Arthur Howard, "We teach people to skate. We guide cars and motorcycles out of the area if they find their way in, and we get help if there's an injury," "We have a real eclectic group", Howard continues. "There are whites, blacks, men, women, young, old - the whole nine yards. Skating brings us together, it goes across all these boundaries:"

The junior patrol consists of young men and women, age 14 to 21, who are called "Explorers," "Explorers aren't the Boy Scouts where you learn to, tie knots and go camping," said Miles, "Explorers are urban adventurers. And the adult participants on the patrol give the young people a chance to learn."

The group also sponsors many different races and exhibitions for the young skaters. "They were practicing every weekend with nowhere to show it off," said Miles. "So we are giving them a chance:'

The Golden Gate Park Skate Patrol meets at noon in the park near Sixth Avenue and Fulton St. Contact David Miles at 415-752-1967 for more information