Dear Team and America,
Some study recently stated that long boarding is more dangerous than regular skateboarding. The study got on the associated press and there were varying versions on the big online sites. I am not disagreeing with the test results. But I’ll add that long boarders primarily skate on roads instead of at parks or spots. That is where the danger lies in skating when skaters are on the same roads as cars. Maybe it’s the librarian in me, but I regularly limit google to news and search skateboarding. By far most serious injuries posted on newspaper sites around the world are skateboarding accidents involving cars. In the vast majority of cases the car wins in collisions.
I should try to look this up, but I believe most fatalities in skateboarding happen because collisions with cars. Every skater especially those in NYC finds themselves skating on roads, and some people feel road skating is a joy in itself. The same danger is found for anyone that bicycles in the streets. I wonder if skateboarding is safer than bicycling, but I’ll save that for another team letter. For now I’ll leave a few guidelines to follow when skating in the streets with cars.
- Avoid skating on highways, large roads like Queens Blvd, or where cars regularly go super fast. Skating is better on side roads, or roads with lots of stop and go traffic.
- Don’t listen to music on I-pod headphones because hearing is an important sense.
- Be aware of the type of street you’re on. The skater should be aware if it’s two-way street, one-way, four-lane one way, or other. Try to skate with traffic and hug the side of the road if there is traffic.
- Always look behind you for traffic, and in front of you for rocks or debris that could make you fall.
- Don’t go so fast that you lose control. If you bomb hills, look carefully that the traffic is light before shooting down the hill. If the hill has a stoplight, time it so the light is definitely green at the time you go through the intersection.
- Skating on roads should be from spot to spot or for short transportation, do not make it the only skating you do like long boarders. Practicing tricks and skating frequently makes people more comfortable and better skaters. For long commutes bicycles are superior.
- Be honest if you’re ready to skate on roads. I read that most serious accidents on skateboards are with beginners. If you feel off balance in anyway, or not able to ride that well skate where there are not cars.
- Be able to stop or maneuver at any time. If you’re on the side of the road, and a car door opens, you need to see that, look behind you for traffic, and then make the decision to move around the car door into the street or stop.
- DO NOT SKITCH EVER! That’s holding onto a car while it’s driving. I’ve met a paralyzed person that was not the same after an accident from this in his teen years. I get nervous when I see sponsored skaters do this. It’s possible to do this with NYC’s stop and go traffic, but I think it’s one of most dangerous things in street skateboarding.
- Skating under the influence is not illegal like it is for driving automobiles. But it’s probably more advisable to take transit, a cab, or have a designated driver take you to your destination.
On Sundays I skate Astor Square that has light traffic because of the intersections around it. Afterwards we skate on the roads to other spots or Lower East Side bars, and I keep up with the wolf pack. But I look back and forth, and always go on the side of caution. Also on our midtown skate session sometimes I lag behind. My friends are patient and we really look for spots instead of only cruising down the roads. Many people have said that skating on roads is a thrill and it is fun. But it’s better to veer on the side of safety instead of recklessness. Lastly cruising is all fine and good, but real skaters do tricks.
*Photo above taken by Coach Heath