Sunday, March 21, 2010

Illegal Soapbox Racing: Turns out, it's actually illegal! (UPDATE: No, not so much)

So we went with some of the SCISR guys to run GMR this morning. First run was a blast, and spirits were high as we hooked the cars up to tow back to the top. We noticed a Forest Service truck full of khaki-shirted workers passing us, but didn't give them too much notice, as they didn't stop. We passed them on the way up; they'd pulled into a turn-out and waved and took photos as we passed.

When we saw them again as we unhooked at the top of the hill, we knew something was up. A very friendly worker came over, taking photos and asking questions about the cars, joking and being very friendly with us the entire time. We were waiting for the other shoe to drop, but as he walked back to the truck, he gave us a wave, and said, "Have fun - be safe!" We figured that was pretty much a go-ahead.

After a somewhat eventful run (more on this some other time), we were greeted at the bottom of the mountain by a bigger Forestry truck and a couple of stern-looking uniformed gentlemen that began asking for driver's licenses. They seemed to feel that since we were some sort of loose association/group, that we should not be enjoying this hill except under coverage of a permit. They called the Sheriffs Department for a deputy to clarify.

Guess what, folks? Seems that in the last year, the County of Los Angeles has put a code into place forbidding the use of non-powered vehicles on county roads with a grade of more than 3%. In my understanding, this includes skateboards, street luges and our "box-car coasters", but exempts bicycles, as they are well defined, and covered under other statutes. Long story short, a bunch of us were cited, and our soapbox cars seized as evidence pending a hearing.

There's more to the story, but this explains most of it. The deputies would have let us go with a warning, but the U.S. Forestry Department was bound and determined that we should be prosecuted for this misdemeanor to the fullest extent of the law.

Will I fight it? Probably.
Does it suck? Yes.
Will I race somewhere outside of LA County next Sunday? You bet your ass.

UPDATE: The citation cites a code pertaining to skateboards, which they define as "not having a steering device", which our cars obviously do. Can't see this sticking, but I still have to wait at least three months to get the B&GS back.