A potential showdown between skateboarders and NYPD officers was averted Saturday when participants in a banned race on Manhattan's West Side splintered into small groups and took alternative routes.
The city had obtained a court order to shut down the annual Broadway Bomb, which organizers said attracted more than 1,000 racers last year.
Officials said past races have caused accidents and snarled traffic on the eight-mile course, from the Upper West Side to Wall Street.
Police responded Saturday with an aggressive presence at the starting line on West 116th Street, massing dozens of officers, about 40 police vehicles and lighted signs warning that rogue skaters would be arrested.
Rather than challenge cops, most skateboarders simply hopped on their boards a block south, at 115th Street, or a block east, on Amsterdam Avenue.
"Honestly, the risk of possible arrest makes it more exciting," said Chad Tosto, 23, who drove to the race from Baltimore. "None of this scares me at all."
No arrests were reported.
Broadway Bomb organizer Ian Nichols said he intends to seek a city permit for the next race. The first one, held in 2002, drew slightly more than a dozen skateboarders.
"We're growing every year," Nichols said. "I think we need to go legitimate."
Some skateboarders said that would drain the life out of the chaotic event. Typically, participants have had to weave through cars and gamble on changing traffic lights.
"That was the exciting part," said Wayne Gallipoli, 51, an enthusiast from Connecticut who said he's competed in the race since 2005. "This is a rebel sport, at the end of the day."
Gallipoli said the popularity of the race reflects a growing interest in the sport, which could lead to benefits such as new sponsors. But he questioned if that would be worth the price.
"You'll lose the feel of how free it was, just to charge down Broadway," he said.