Dealing with hordes of inconsiderately slow walkers on the sidewalk is a difficult ordeal. Dealing with hordes of inconsiderately slow walkers and inconsiderately fast skateboarders is hardcoring it up a notch or 12.
Life is hard enough without having to worry about getting run over on the way to class. Praise be to boarders who exclaim “On your left” Captain America style before they fly past you at breakneck speeds.
However, people who use these alternative modes of transportation are not to be feared. According to sophomore longboarder Hunter Jackson, avoiding a sidewalk collision requires attention from both walkers and wheelers, especially in a technologically-dominated society.
“It’s really not safe to use your phone while walking or on a board,” Jackson said. “If you’re on your phone, then you’re not focused on your balance or where you’re going, and things just come up so fast … It is much easier to crash on a skateboard than in a car.”
Many boarders say that paying attention to one’s surroundings is key in a highly populated area, including sophomore Addison Picker, who frequently uses his penny board for quick travel. Both he and Jackson agree that if the area appears too crowded, it is best to find a different route or switch from wheeling to walking.
“Depending on where you need to go, if you can find another route, just go around and don’t bother anyone,” Picker said. “And don’t weave in and out between people. That’s just obnoxious.”
Jackson says he frequently analyzes his surroundings, asking himself, “Can I make it around that?” or, “Am I going to pass him before I hit him?” to ensure safety is kept paramount. However, even in barely populated areas, those who are not skateboarding need to consider their own conduct during travel.
“Even when there’s not a lot of people about, there are times when I feel uncomfortable riding,” Jackson said. “Like when a group of girls walk in a horizontal line and take up the entire sidewalk.”
Senior skateboarder Zach Ferguson echoed Jackson’s statements, saying that isolated clusters of people in relatively sparse locations can become nuisances.
“I get pretty annoyed when one person takes up the whole sidewalk that I’m on and won’t get over on one side to let me go by,” Ferguson said. “It’s also kind of annoying when people cower back in fear as I ride by. They are probably afraid because of the inexperienced boarders on campus who don’t know what they’re doing.”
Many other boarders agree with Ferguson’s statement, including Picker and Jackson, who agree that learning to feel comfortable when riding a board is vital to safety and enjoyment.
“Practice somewhere where you aren’t in anyone’s way, because if you don’t, you’re giving people who ride a bad name,” Picker said.
Finding a mentor can also improve the way new boarders handle themselves in public areas, according to Jackson.
“If you’re new, take your board to someone who knows boards really well, get them to look over it and maybe even modify it a little,” Jackson said. “And get someone who knows how to ride effectively to give you tips. People try out all of these crazy ideas they think makes them look cool when it’s really just dangerous and embarrassing.”