|A terrible miscalculation|
He wasn’t wearing a helmet. According to TPS Sgt. Warren Stein, Beamish was also wearing dark clothing, which may have made it difficult to see him.
Events like this make me brood over the nature of skateboarding and its uneasy relationship with traffic.
It was only a year ago that we learned about the tragic death of Hilton Byrne, a good friend to many and a prominent member of our local skate community. We still grieve for him sorely.
In the commentary and tenor of the accident media coverage, I’ve seen a lot of dismissive judgment. What did you expect, goes the critique, skating the wrong way in traffic, and without a helmet? Skateboarders shouldn’t be on the road in the first place.
Questions of fault are inevitable when a fatality occurs. I’m just not convinced anything can -- or should -- be changed as a result.
The thing is, I can see it happening (the accident, I mean). I can easily visualize the chain of events. I can’t defend what happened, and who knows 100% what did, but it’s a sequence of decisions and factors that I can personally relate to.
I’ve been there. I’ve made similar calls.
|Flowers at King/Spadina|
Photo: Slow Motion Victory
And consequences ensue.
Skating is about risk assessment -- that’s part of the appeal. You skate where you can. And sometimes, where you can’t.
Increasingly, many people use longboards for commuting. Not for tricks or daredevil feats, but simply to get around in a crowded urban environment. This will not be the last fatality from skateboarding. You can’t stop people from having accidents.
You can only educate, and set a good example for the groms, and encourage skaters to always be aware of their surroundings.
|Friends have started a safety campaign...|
Historically skateboarders have frowned on the use of helmets, but that mindset is slowly changing, at least in the GTA.
Whether or not a helmet would have changed the outcome of Friday’s tragedy is moot; our culture is beginning to shift in the right direction. People won’t session with you if you’re not wearing a lid.
Online the skate reaction is muted and defensive -- because dealing with death is such a struggle. Is this going to change skating in Toronto? That’s the question we are faced with.
Just six weeks ago, a thousand of us rampaged through the city at the annual Board Meeting, a symbolic exercise in asserting our right to skate. Yet here we have learned once again, that the streets aren’t always ours to rule. It is a harsh lesson indeed.
I didn’t know Mr. Beamish personally -- but I’ve realized with sadness that I’ve skated with him in the past. I recognize his face. The above photo is from probably around five or six years ago, at the top of the SkyDome garage if I’m not mistaken. And I know I took part in many of those sessions...
|The skate community’s addition to|
the memorial -- nice job CIRCA
Friends of his have also started a safety campaign called Be Bright Wear Lights, encouraging cyclists and skateboarders to wear lights or reflectors when travelling at night.
My sincere condolences to the Beamish family and to all of his friends. For someone so young to have their life ended so abruptly -- it’s devastating.
Folks -- skate safe! Wear a helmet. Pay attention to traffic.
Take care frons, and shred with joy in your heart!
|Photo via: Be Bright Wear Lights|
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