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  • It Was Illegal To Roller Skate In This NH Town Until A Mother-Son Team Convinced Voters To Repeal The Ban

It Was Illegal To Roller Skate In This NH Town Until A Mother-Son Team Convinced Voters To Repeal The Ban

By on March 21, 2019 0

A 12-year-old boy, who aspires to play for a National Hockey League team, has convinced voters to legalize in-line skating in town, nearly two years after he and his mother were tipped off by police that street skating was illegal.

A hockey player since the age of 2, Cam Noyes said he had been rollerblading in Rye for years before learning it was an illegal activity. He said he found out about the ban in late August 2017, when he suggested his mother skate with him until his first day of sixth grade.

Her mother, Kristen Umlah, said many Rye students cycle to school, but are not cyclists. She said when they arrived at Rye School on their inline skates, Police Chief Kevin Walsh was there to direct traffic and told them their skating was not allowed.

“I was like, wait, what?” Umlah called back. “I thought he was joking.”

Umlah said the police chief explained that the city ordinance prohibited rollerblading, at which point her son worried about how she was going to get home across the street. city. Umlah said the chief gave her permission to skate at her house, where she consulted the city ordinance and discovered that it was roller skating, not inline skating, that was prohibited .

After explaining it to his son, “Cam said, ‘We weren’t roller-skating, we were skating,'” Umlah said.

“I rollerbladed all summer and never saw a policeman,” Cam said.

Umlah said she and her son went to a subsequent Board of Selectmen meeting to express their view that inline skating is different from roller skating. They were told that the spirit of the ordinance meant that it also applied to in-line skating, that it was too dangerous on the roads of Rye and that the council was going to leave the law as is, a- she declared.

“We both went home and decided we could give up or find out about the process” to change the law, Umlah said.

The mother and son decided they would work to change the order.

Meanwhile, Cam has made Rye’s in-line skating ban the focus of a school social studies project.

Mother and son learned they needed 25 signatures to secure a warrant item in front of voters, so Cam went door-to-door with his 6-year-old brother Winston and they collected 31 Reactions from residents invited to sign their petition ranged from “Is rollerblading illegal? to “Of course I will sign him,” Umlah said.

The signatures were made at the town hall last November, when Umlah and Cam also attended a selection meeting to seek council approval. Under each terms of reference is a note, in bold, indicating whether or not the board approved it and Umlah and Cam wanted that approval.

Umlah said Cam was called to address the board, introduced himself and presented his pitch. Cam said the police chief showed a photo of a person rollerblading with their arms and legs stretched out, to which he countered that the posture was known as “pitch hay” and not the correct skating posture.

Cam said he was asked what would happen if he hit a pothole or got caught in a wheel and he explained he would switch to the other foot. He said he and his mother had been driving around town and observed that most of the potholes were on the roads, not on the sides where the skaters would be, so he said that too to the council.

“We didn’t think it was fair that the city could choose what kind of exercise people can do,” Umlah said.

The elected officials voted unanimously to support the term paper and, Umlah said, “We came out clapping and had a dance party later at the house.”

They then launched a social media campaign and had t-shirts made that read, “Vote yes on Section 29, Roll Rye Forward,” with the words shaped like rollerblades.

Both mother and son said they had not used their inline skates on the roads in Rye since being told it was illegal.

On March 12, their article was about the city’s mandate and, says Umlah, she learned at 10 p.m. that he had been approved with 1,139 votes for and 465 against. She said she woke up her son to tell him “and he came out of his room doing the conga to a man”.

When she drove him to school the next morning, they played the song “We Are The Champions” and when he got home, they went rollerblading.

Noyes said his classmates were happy when they heard the news, while some questioned why he hadn’t also removed a citywide skateboarding ban from the same ordinance.

“I don’t skateboard,” he says.

“I will help,” he told his friends. “But it’s on you.”