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Jul-07-2007 07:48printcomments

Salem Teens Beat the Heat by Bike Jumping into Willamette River

Some call the practice too dangerous; cops can’t do anything to stop it; those doing it call it good clean fun.

Kids are taking bike jumping in a new direction
Kids are taking bike jumping in a new direction
All photos by: Kevin Hays

(SALEM, Ore.) - To some it may look too dangerous, but to a group of Salem, Oregon teens this is just another sport, and it’s a fun and exciting way to beat the summer heat.

The teens, are using the Salem Riverfront Park public boat dock ramp as a runway to launch themselves, and their bikes, into the cool waters of the Willamette River.

The ones we saw weren't wearing lifejackets, instead they tie lifejackets onto the bike so it floats back to the top.

As one of the teens put it, "We are not out here trying to be thugs or a danger to the public, we are just trying to have fun, what else is there to do in Salem for us?"

He added, " We are too old for the fountains at the Capitol Mall, we could sit at home watching TV, play video games, or we could get into drugs and alcohol, we are just trying to enjoy the river and stay cool in a drug free manner."

Captain Richard Chesbrough, who uses the dock as his home port for the riverboat Willamette Queen, worries that if the kids jump too far out while he is underway or returning back to the dock, he wouldn’t be able to steer his vessel out of the kid's way.

"It’s a safety issue," Chesbrough said, "Not only for me and the kids, but my passengers who use the ramp to get to the boat."

Chesbrough stressed that he has never had a problem with the teens, and they always have heeded his warnings, which keeps the situation on an even keel.

The teens say they always move out of the way for those using the ramp, and don’t jump unless all conditions are clear.

"That’s why there are so many of us out here, and only one person jumps at a time, we don’t want to cause an injury to the general public," one of the jumping cyclists said.

Salem Police Lt. Chuck Bennett, said the department did receive calls about this activity last year, but since the area is not a 'no swimming zone' they cannot stop the kids from jumping into the river unless they pose a danger to the public, or bring drugs or alcohol onto the docks.

Chesbrough said that the city had put up a no swimming sign at the park, but it has since been removed.

A call to the City of Salem Parks Department about the sign was not returned.

When asked what they thought the depth of the river was, the teens responded between 80 and 100 feet. Actually experts say, the river, which is currently at late summer time levels, is between 6 and 8 feet at the docks.

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Annie July 7, 2007 11:56 am (Pacific time)

Portland TV will once again overlook a Kevin Hays NEWS story. Power to the kids.

Curt Davidson July 7, 2007 11:45 am (Pacific time)

Once again great photos and story.

Billy Salem July 7, 2007 10:42 am (Pacific time)

I was one of the bike jumpers yesterday and I want to thank Kevin and Salem-News.com for their fair reporting of this story. We just want to have fun and not hurt anyone and I hope we can all come to an understanding that is fair to all including the boat captain.

Christina July 7, 2007 10:15 am (Pacific time)

I saw the boys out there yesterday and feel the same way. They could be out doing drugs or other things, so whay not let them out having fun and staying out of trouble.

Sally July 7, 2007 9:48 am (Pacific time)

Me and my kids watched those kids yesterday at the top of the boat ramp. There must have been 25 to 30 of them and they were very polite to those walking to and from the Willamette Queen. I say let them have fun as long as it stays safe and drug free and they pick-up their trash.

Dale Corvallis July 7, 2007 8:37 am (Pacific time)

Let the kids have their fun. we all did stupid things like this as young people so I hope the city or the cops don't take it away. I would recommend lifejackets for the kids.

Neal Feldman July 7, 2007 8:28 am (Pacific time)

Personally the only way I could bring myself to enter the polluted waters of the Willamette river is if I was on fire at the time. The water is disgusting!

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