Bus driver in skating clash

By Kieran Nash

There is nothing illegal about skateboarding on the road, as long as you stick to the road rules like drivers of other vehicles. Photo / Doug Sherring
There is nothing illegal about skateboarding on the road, as long as you stick to the road rules like drivers of other vehicles. Photo / Doug Sherring

A bus driver is being investigated after an altercation with a skateboarder who rode dangerously in front of him on a busy Central Auckland street.

The Airbus Express driver could lose his job after he pushed the skateboarder in Wellesley St East on Monday night.

A passenger on the bus also got involved, punching the skateboarder and ripping his shirt.

Police say they are unaware of skateboarders riding dangerously and causing problems but businesses along the stretch of road say the practice is common. They are worried someone could be killed.

Skateboarders jousting with vehicles on Wellesley St comes just months after longboarders posted videos on YouTube of themselves travelling at up to 100km/h down the Bombay Hills, south of Auckland.

Police said the longboarders were idiots.

Airbus Express spokesman Philip Manning said an investigation into the driver's behaviour would take place.

Manning said there was a zero-tolerance policy towards violence from drivers, unless it was absolutely necessary for the driver to use self-defence.

"We have very high standards. We wouldn't condone such things - far from it."

He said any driver found to be in breach of the zero-tolerance policy would be dismissed.

But the National Distribution Union, which represents bus drivers, said the company had to realise the provocation that bus drivers had to deal with at work every day.

Being taunted was not untypical, general secretary Robert Reid said.

"There are these things happening all the time. The job of a bus driver is incredibly harder than it looks.

"From what I hear, what [the driver] did was reasonable."

A passenger on the bus, Herald on Sunday staff member Barry Clarke, said the skateboarder deliberately rode in front of the bus as it travelled down Wellesley St East from Symonds St about 8.45pm on Monday.

The bus driver blasted his horn but the skateboarder, in his 20s, ignored it and continued to weave across the road in the path of the bus.

When the bus stopped at a red light, the skateboarder disappeared. But he was back when the lights turned green, again taunting the driver as he stayed just in front of the bus.

"The skateboarder then fell off and the driver did a great job braking in time before he ran him over," said Clarke.

"The driver got out and spoke to the skateboarder and then there was pushing and shoving."

"A passenger then ran out and whacked the skateboarder," said Clarke. "That was totally unnecessary."

The driver told the passenger to get in the bus and the skateboarder walked off.

"But moments later he returned and swung his skateboard into the front of the bus. The driver and another passenger got off and spoke to the skateboarder then got back in. The skateboarder then stood in front of the bus and refused to budge. Eventually he walked off."

Police said skateboarders riding dangerously could be ticketed.

Wellesley St businesses say dangerous skateboarders risked their lives.

Choice Plaza Backpackers manager Valerie Loyer said: "They don't care if a car's coming or about traffic lights or anything. It's very careless. It's dangerous for everyone.

"They disappear very fast, you don't even get to see their faces. I don't have any problem calling the police at all."

Simon Meehan of Pathfinder Books said skateboarding in traffic was "fraught with danger".

"I've seen it and I'm quite impressed with their skills. But they don't look like they're going to be able to stop very quickly."

- Herald on Sunday

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