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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Who Killed The Wall of Death?

posted by on October 22 at 15:12 PM

Yesterday, Dan posted that someone at the city had installed a strip of rocks along a concrete ramp at the Wall of Death, an art installation along the Burke Gilman Trail which has been used as a makeshift skatepark for years.

Well, It looks like we’ve figured out who killed the Wall of Death: the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).

“SDOT was responsible for installing those rocks,” says SDOT spokesman Rick Sheridan.

Sheridan says SDOT—which maintains the Burke Gilman—decided to install the rock work after receiving “a number of complaints from users about skateboarders” in the last few years.

According to Sheridan, SDOT has received seven complaints about skaters and in August, a skater and a cyclist were involved in a “head-on collision.” That’s when SDOT decided to install the rock barrier.

“[When] we have a crash on the heels of a number of complaints we just couldn’t ignore it anymore,” Sheridan says. “We decided we couldn’t’ wait any longer.”

Skaters have already begun emailing city hall about the loss of their makeshift park and there’s rumbling on some skater message boards about installing a ramp on top of SDOT’s rock work.

Sheridan wouldn’t comment on the possibility of makeshift ramps being installed at the Wall of Death. He did say, however, that any DIY construction “would undermine the safety of the trail.”

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We'd rather not moderate your comments, but off-topic, gratuitously inflammatory, threatening, or otherwise inappropriate remarks may be removed, and repeat offenders may be banned from commenting. We never censor comments based on ideology. Thanks to all who add to the conversation on Slog.

Posted by Comment Deleted | October 22, 2008 3:16 PM

great job Seattle! Thanks for killing another skate spot! I'm sure glad the Skatepark Advisory Committee is there to help out skaters!


Posted by bobcat | October 22, 2008 3:24 PM

This isn't bicycling -- these kids aren't offering an environmentally sound alternative to cars. They're just kids having fun with skateboards. Unforunately, they're also myopic and self-centered enough to not care if people are annoyed or hurt.

So drop this cause like The Stranger is now the fucking advocate for 14-year-olds and their problems. You're going to fight the city for this? Take up something worthwhile. Do any of you even skate? Christ.

Posted by Nick | October 22, 2008 3:25 PM

Why do I equate City Officials with Fran Drescher when I read this sort of regressive crap?

Posted by RHETT ORACLE | October 22, 2008 3:26 PM

3 - go back under your rock, troll.

Posted by bobcat | October 22, 2008 3:29 PM

It's the "Wall of Death" right?

So shouldn't the skaters jump into the rocks and kill themselves?

I mean, it's not false advertising or anything.

Posted by John Bailo | October 22, 2008 3:30 PM

Yes, putting a skate ramp in the middle of a well-traveled bicycle thoroughfare is a great idea!

How about a lunch ramp near the I5 on ramp?

Posted by Jeff | October 22, 2008 3:35 PM
[When] we have a crash on the heels of a number of complaints we just couldn’t ignore it anymore.

Sad as the loss of a skate spot is, that explanation sounds pretty reasonable to me.

Maybe all the knee-jerk responders could focus on whoever caused the accident in August; then the pro- and anti-skaters could all agree on whose ass to kick.

Posted by lostboy | October 22, 2008 3:39 PM

Building a makeshift ramp in the face of safety concerns, and one potentially serious accident, is a great way to create goodwill among all the people who use that trail.

Posted by keshmeshi | October 22, 2008 3:42 PM

Seven complaints and one injury in about 9999 years. Can you ask how many injuries have occurred in the arboretum? Maybe we can get that covered up with rocks too (o wait rich people use that).

Posted by jrrrl | October 22, 2008 3:50 PM

Some guy tore a ligament at Qwest Field at the last football game. Let's cover it up with rocks asap hurry!!!!! Safety!!!!!!!!

Posted by jrrrl | October 22, 2008 3:53 PM

If the rocks aren't reinforced then a couple pops with a sledge hammer can reopen part of the ramp. I've biked through that corrridor daily for the past five years and have never seen any trouble or tension between skate kids and bikers...the same could not be said for cars, fruit booters, long boarders or other bikers on the BGT. Most skaters know to wait their turn and to watch out for other things that move since most of street skating involves streets/parking lots covered with moving cars.

Posted by frontside smith | October 22, 2008 3:56 PM

Wow, someone is hurt in August and SDOT gets right on it by resolving the problem in late October. They'll be making the south approach to the University Bridge where cyclists actually die safer any day now then, eh?

Posted by Anon | October 22, 2008 3:57 PM

@5: So anyone who disagrees with the mob mentality on Slog is a troll?

7 and 8 seem to have it nailed: Is this really a great spot to have skateboarders (not exactly known for their politesse) flying down a blind ramp?

Someone got hurt, a number of people complained, and the city responded. Find a new cause, because this one is just ridiculous.

Posted by rjh | October 22, 2008 3:58 PM

As a skateboarder who goes past that spot, I for one am sad that I never complained about all the cyclists ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 22, 2008 3:59 PM

You have to love a this city. They destroy everything old that makes Seattle! I know lets build more condos, close down all concert venues and tear down anything that is "For The Kids"! Sure ya can got to a bar and "drink for the kids" but you cant leave a shitty skate spot (one of the only cover spots in RAIN CITY)alone for kids to tinker on.
Maybe provide an alternative skate spot under that part of the bridge where the UW stashes piles of crap that they will never use. The lower area use to be a Basketball quart with quarter pipes and street obstacles back in the late 80's to early 90's. Open that back up! University of Washington police can patrol it easily from the parking lot.
Also to hell with these wanna be tour De France A-Holes! I ride a bike too but I don't fly through areas that are obviously a hight traffic zone (be it on Skateboards, Razors, Roller Blades etc...) and just assume that kids are just going to get out of the way! Lets face it Seattle, your sucking the life from this city. What about the kids? They don't have much to start with and now they have even less. Give the kids something!

Posted by A Way | October 22, 2008 4:05 PM

#16: Let's go skating at the corner of 5th and Cherry. Just make sure you don't bump your head against the SDOT building there or else they'll have to cover it up with rocks!

Posted by jrrrl | October 22, 2008 4:12 PM

Hey Skateboarders...
It's obviously a responsibility and a consideration to others that use the same PUBLIC space as you that you self-police your behavior. Skateboarders have to put up with a good number of unfair assumptions about them, but seven complaints and an injury is a bit much.

The point isn't that these people are complaining about being injured in a public space, they are complaining about being injured in a public space by a group of people who are not exercising the requisite amount of caution in a PUBLIC space. Whether you were skateboarders, jugglers, tai chi instructors, or interpretive dancers, if your activities compromised my safety, I would report you. If you don't want places like the Wall of Death being rocked up, then demonstrate consideration to other users of the public space, and more importantly, self-police... call the assholes who are misusing the space on their asshole behavior so you don't have to risk losing your spot!

Posted by stephenls | October 22, 2008 4:14 PM

One accident and SDOT rips up that skate spot. Should the same standards should apply to streets, SDOT?

Posted by Dan Savage | October 22, 2008 4:18 PM

18 - using that same logic let's lump all people who ride bikes with Critical Mass.

There's good apples and there are rotten ones. Now if you excuse me, i'm going to avoid getting hit by a car while skating at the park n' ride next door.

Posted by bobcat | October 22, 2008 4:24 PM

Yeah, we should wait until there's 4 accidents and one of them leaves a cyclist a paraplegic unable to even feed himself, and THEN we should take action.

Posted by PC | October 22, 2008 4:28 PM


Pit bulls.

Posted by keshmeshi | October 22, 2008 4:28 PM

This is Stupid.. The CITY made A REALLY Big skate Park in Ballard and you complain about a drug littered spot under a bridge?!

Really get over it for fucks SAKE


Posted by Darwin | October 22, 2008 4:32 PM

Dan @19, I respect the hell out of you, but that meme is asinine.

Raise your hand, anyone who thinks the threshold for barricading a piece of our primary transportation infrastructure should be the same as for an isolated improvised recreational spot.

Posted by lostboy | October 22, 2008 4:33 PM

Why should skaters get special rights? We need a constitutional amendment banning skaters and underpasses from joining together. It's unholy, it's not natural, it's a special right for skaters. Although several of my best friends are skaters, I voted for a ban on skate board parks, because I believe in one board and one, um I believe in, um give me a minute here....

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | October 22, 2008 4:35 PM

@ 23 the Ballard bowl is just that, a bowl aka a POOL, NOT a skatepark. I WISH there was a skatepark in Ballard...again.

Posted by nipper | October 22, 2008 4:40 PM

Shut the fuck up Will, you couldn't fucking ollie to save your fucking life. I bet you fucking long board to boot. skater my ass.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 22, 2008 4:40 PM

@27 HAHA! I'll bet you're right, and I love how much you hate people who long board.

Posted by Mikki | October 22, 2008 4:56 PM

no one in their right mind would DESIGN a bicycling path & a skateboard ramp to CROSS. it's a design error part & parcel with the Wall of Death being the crappiest piece of public art north of Qwest Field's tower.

the BGT has to go through there. it takes precedence. skate somewhere else.

Posted by max solomon | October 22, 2008 5:00 PM

LOL at you sad saps.

WoD: Sorry that SDOT put up rocks on you.

Whiney Bloggers: Shut up and get a real job. You do NOTHING but perpetuate the vicious cycle of Passive Agressive Northwestness. "I won't tell them to their faces, but on the internet, I AM KING." Sheesh.

Dan Sav: Keep writing stuff.

Skaters: Do what you do. I've NEVER had an accident with a skateboarder or lost board. Keep having fun. That's what it should be about.

Posted by Nikko | October 22, 2008 5:05 PM

No kidding, talk about safety: how about most of the cars on the road... ya gonna get rid of them?

Posted by Adam Superfan | October 22, 2008 5:14 PM

I sympathize with the skaters a little. It looked like a fun place to skateboard, and covered too (a plus for half the year in Seattle).

But there is an inherent conflict between boarders on that slope and anyone walking/jogging/biking along the BG. It was only a matter of time before someone got hurt. And as likely as not, someone getting creamed there by a skateboarder will probably sue the city for millions.

So SDOT did the right thing. Or at least half the right thing.

SDOT, if you're reading this, now do the other half. You tore up one skateboard spot. Now build another. Skateboarders that used that spot aren't simply going to vanish. They're going to find someplace else to board. Do you have an alternative that is safer? Why not?

Skateboarding is not a fad. It has been around for decades now. Kids like it. The city and private property owners go to a lot of money and effort to prevent skateboarders from boarding all over the place. How about spending some money and effort providing an alternative. If there were fun, safe, dry places to skateboard, boarders wouldn't have to board under bridges and in front of buildings. Duh.

Posted by Reverse Polarity | October 22, 2008 5:25 PM

32 - amen.

skateboarding has been around for half a century, but it hasn't been socially acceptable until less than a decade ago. I was the token skater at school, the only people I hung out with were the stoners and the kungfu dudes. I met a couple other kids and we used to ride under the cover of night, sometimes having to hide in trash cans to avoid roving bands of jocks looking to beat up a 'skater faggot'.

Now, with skateboarding everywhere in marketing it is only reasonable to give kids places to play outside. I was walking down Cowen Park to U-village and noted to my girlfriend "where are all the kids building forts?", seriously if i were a kid again I would all up building the nicest treefort down in that valley. But now everyone sits inside on the computer or playing videogames. Get people outside.

You should see the sheer talent out of other towns with skateparks. Towns like Newburg, Oregon with a population of 26,000 that has a park almost 8 years old but still one of the most fun in the world. If you don't like skateboarding, that's your deal. Skateboarding saved my life and many others. We view things different and I have learned many countless values from growing up in the streets. Viewing curbs as art, or a tree breaking through the sidewalk as a good hip.

Posted by bobcat | October 22, 2008 5:38 PM

.......lunch ramp?......are they serve chicken fried steak?

Posted by soon to be a rock skater | October 22, 2008 5:44 PM

what you wanna bet the injured cyclist was a lawyer?

Posted by scary tyler moore | October 22, 2008 7:00 PM

@13 Amen. The icing on the cake of the southbound approach to the U bridge are the seams in the pavement *just* the right size to catch my tires and send me hurtling into a car's path.

Because you don't have enough to keep track of right there, what with the cars merging into you and completely disregarding the "yield" sign.

So glad SDOT cares so much about cyclists' well-being.

Posted by TVDinner | October 22, 2008 7:04 PM

"DIY construction would undermine the safety of the trail.”

True! And it always will in situations where people are passionate about a sport like skating. Foolish old farts think they can stop folks that are much more free thinking and more driven then themselves. It just don't work. It's a fun GAME to work out obstacles, in skateboarding. When life gives you a speed bump, ollie over it.... Might as well play by skaters rules because LESS people will get scuffed up, if anything.

Posted by steve rock | October 22, 2008 7:06 PM


Right, or we could just arrest them. I don't buy for a second that there's no other location in this entire city that skaters can use that won't wind up putting other people at risk. According to your logic, skaters are incredibly uncreative and can't simply move on and find another spot.

As #33 points out, skateboarding is now socially acceptable, although it's been socially acceptable for well over a decade. It's no longer rebellious. Don't fool yourself into thinking otherwise. Oh, and putting people's safety at risk for no good reason isn't rebellion, it's simply the behavior of assholes.

Posted by keshmeshi | October 22, 2008 8:14 PM

Vote yes on #2 so if seattle decides to build skateparks and spots we might actually get them!


and 38, it might be socially acceptable but it sure isn't widely acceptable. oh, and putting people's safety at risk? why dont those fuckers FINISH the BGT in Ballard instead of making more ugly public art and/or skatestoppers.

Posted by bobcat | October 22, 2008 8:23 PM

@39 - already voted against it.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 22, 2008 9:01 PM

@38, most skaters aren't that creative. Smart skaters are a dime a dozen considering half of them want to grow up to be chad fucking muska.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 22, 2008 10:22 PM

wasn't there once a ramp *below* the trail, which sdot or someone removed and replaced with the 'wall of death' sculpture?

Posted by ??? | October 22, 2008 10:28 PM


What does extending the BGT into Ballard have to do with any of this?

I guess one reason this all annoys me is that the main argument why we need more skateparks is so skaters don't use public thoroughfares, that they'll use the skateparks instead. But according to #37, and seemingly a lot of the people decrying SDOT's actions, skaters are going to do whatever the fuck they want regardless of potential risks and regardless if there are adequate legal and safe facilities for them. Fuck that. The correct response to something like this is to either find a public space for skateboarding that doesn't cross a popular walking/running/biking path or to fight for more skateparks. The incorrect response is to claim as #37 did that we have to let skaters do whatever the fuck they want lest they decide to take some sort of revenge or some shit.

Posted by keshmeshi | October 22, 2008 10:38 PM

@40, wtf, why?

Posted by jrrrl | October 22, 2008 11:35 PM

because 43 you are an idiot troll - if the sdot spent so much money deciding to nanny-state a 'potential hazard' they should realize that the stretch of Burke Gilman from the locks to fred meyer is about as dangerous as it gets? Get out much? I mean i know that the world of warcraft expansion came out, but serious dude leave your goddamn mothers basement for once.

For the other troll/shitheads/ or if there are actually nice people who read this blather i'll be at king cobra friday for the skeletor/fallen angels show, come by i'll buy you a beer and we can talk. otherwise go back to your level 68 Mages and shit.

Posted by bobcat | October 23, 2008 1:05 AM

WOW, this guy! and I quote: "

This is Stupid.. The CITY made A REALLY Big skate Park in Ballard and you complain about a drug littered spot under a bridge?!

Really get over it for fucks SAKE


Yeah, you obviously don't skate and or didn't grow up here!
First of all,
Under a bridge means dry, don't be ignorant.

In this Shitty city there is close to nothing for kids to do.

The mayor hates music, skaters and kids and would have this place looking like a yuppie version of the Wizard of OZ if he had the chance.

2nd most, they tore down a perfectly good Bowl/Park in order to have a more PC park, for the new breed of Ballard yuppies, with only a Bowl(not every skateboarder rides bowls).

Stop thinking about yourselves people, remember back to when you were a kid? Think about it.

Posted by A Way | October 23, 2008 2:30 AM

@20 ...
Critical Mass are a group of cyclists who assert their legal right to ride bicycles on the street...Tell me how is it skateboarders have the legal right to disturb users of the BGT? Sure there are good apples and rotten apples, but SEVEN reported complaints and an injury speaks somewhat of a culture of territorialism to me...

Posted by stephenls | October 23, 2008 5:32 AM

@39 So Will... You call yourself a skateboarder and then vote down a measure that has money included to build skateparks? So far Seattle has 1 skatepark and 1 bowl that are parks and rec spots. Neither of which are covered. I'm voting yes to funding skateparks and hey... Let's put a roof over one of them.

And to the topic at hand. This could have been remedied with signage for trail users to watch out for cross traffic and use caution. The tracks in Ballard have that. A head on collision between a cyclist and a skatboarder mean that both were not paying attention to what was going on around them. Awareness is key and too many people move around the city without regard to the people around them. It's not like people skateboarding at the wall of death is a new thing.

Posted by Tony D. | October 23, 2008 11:40 AM
Posted by Scott Shinn | October 24, 2008 8:11 AM

It's a crime to take this creative skate spot away from the future skaters. I used to always stop at this spot to try something new on my way to gasworks. Shame on Seattle, and i dont even live there anymore. Hope the city will learn not to hurt its heritage anymore than it already has!

Posted by Stevens | October 26, 2008 1:15 AM

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