By Joseph Ax
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York judge has banned up to 2,000 skateboarders from racing down a bustling stretch of Broadway after city officials said the unauthorized event known as "The Broadway Bomb" was a danger to pedestrians and motorists.
For a decade, skateboarders from around the world have barreled down an eight-mile section of the landmark Manhattan street, dodging traffic and people, as part of the annual daredevil race.
This year, they will have to defy a court order, and risk arrest to participate.
Acting Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Wright on Thursday issued a temporary restraining order banning skateboarders from riding in the race, scheduled to start Saturday at noon in upper Manhattan. He said they would be subject to arrest if they defied the order.
The ban was requested by city officials, who argued the event required a police permit to proceed because it involves more than 50 people on a public roadway. The city claimed nearly 1,800 people were registered. A Facebook page for the event listed close to 2,000 participants as of Friday morning.
"Lawless unauthorized Broadway Bomb races cause problems for vehicular traffic stoppages, safety issues for pedestrians and has resulted in accidents," the city's court papers said.
Ian Nichols, the race's organizer, said in a phone interview Friday that he would abide by the court order and cancel the event on the Broadway Bomb website. But he said he could not predict whether some racers would choose to show up anyway.
"People come from around the world to skate in this," he said. "For many people, it's the highlight of their life. They may try to do something."
A message on the Facebook page indicated that some participants planned to show up anyway, despite the expected police presence.
Nichols said he would try to work with city officials to create a sanctioned event for the skaters in the future.
"We've known for a number of years that this couldn't go on forever," he said.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; editing by Andrew Hay)