Skaters who have been rolling in the streets - alongside the traffic - may be stopped by police a little more often now.
After some public confusion, D.C. Police have unearthed the definitive law on street skating, buried deep in the dusty annals of city ordinances. It is Part F, Section 11.061 of the Bicycle Regulations passed by the District of Columbia City Council in 1971:
"No person upon roller skates, skateboards, or riding by any means of sled, coaster, toy vehicle, sidewalk bicycle, or similar device shall go upon any roadway except when crossing a roadway in a crosswalk..."
Public misunderstandings may have arisen from the fact that roller-skating ordinances have changed places in the law books.
The skating rules had always been part of the bicycle regulations - which were listed under D.C. traffic regulations until 1971, when the bicycle regulations were made a separate set of rules. The move left some police as well as skaters confused.
The latest controversy arose after Lt. Fred Jacobs was quoted in The Washington Post on Wednesday saying that the roller-skating regulation had been deleted from the traffic regulations.
"He just didn't do any further research," said police officer Gary Hankins, Metropolitan Police public information officer.
Deputy Police Chief Lloyd W. Smith yesterday issued a memo reminding all the police officers of his second district - which covers the popular 19th and M Streets NW and Georgetown skating areas - of the roller-skating ordinance, according to Hankins.
"We just don't want anybody to get hurt skating in the streets," said Hankins, who grew up skating at his local Bladensburg rink. "We're not against skating."
One roller-skate rental vendor claims that D.C. City Council chairman Arrington Dixon had ruled street skating was legal. But "How could Arrington Dixon give a ruling to skaters?" asked Oliver Cromwell, Dixon's special assistant, chuckling. "I'm afraid that's not the case." Dixon was unavailable for comment.
Rhonda Strickland, owner of Georgetown's Cosmic Wheels, a skate store, said that when she opened her store four weeks ago, a Georgetown police officer notified her of the regulation - after a week of searching for it.
"You can get where you're going on the sidewalks," said Strickland, who skates to work. "I skate all over the place on the sidewalks. I try to stay out of the streets and away from the cars. The people driving them are crazy."