There’s a lot of stuff in the media about skateboarding right now, and a lot of it is negative. There’s positive features like the memorial session for Jamie Kehoe and stories about upcoming positive events happening over the summer, but these topics are only making the smaller local papers. Unfortunately the ridiculous controversy at Mt. Pleasant park and stories about longboarders getting hurt and losing lives are what the people are going to see and read because it stands out more, and gets publicized way more. The way the news works is the most popular stories are usually the ones that people suffer to have written about them. Skaters have always had issues with the eye of the public and it’s really difficult when we are all looked down upon over stuff that only a small group of us are involved in. But with all this in mind, recognize that when you carry a skateboard in your hand you are categorized as a skateboarder, and everything you do represents all of us. So even if you are not a “longboarder”, understand that what is happening in the news right now with them affects you as well. There have been 11 serious incidents in the past 2 weeks involving Longboarders in the streets and it is the golden topic in the media right now. Things happen in spurts, and unfortunately these accidents are all making headlines making it look really bad. One of my Police Officer friends said, “When you get something big that happens and creates a lot of attention, the public expects action. But sometimes it is the only time that it ever happens and then all that action is for nothing…” Enforcing more rules against the longboard nation and skateboarders as a whole is not the solution. Of course there should be consequences for anyone mistreating the laws of the roads no matter what type of vehicle they are utilizing – car, motorcycle, bike, skateboard, walking/running – you gotta be safe, and make sure you’re not creating a dangerous situation for anyone else. When there’s an incident between a car driver and a skateboarder or a bicyclist it is usually the driver of the car that suffers the most mentally. As the one riding down the street on your board or bike, you are always aware of the chance of being hit by a car, but the person in the car is definitely not expecting that to happen on there drive that day, so we gotta respect that. The solution is not more laws, bans, restrictions and tickets, the solution is more education. In today’s world, skateboarding in all forms is taking over as the most popular pastime. And because of that, we are getting a lot of kids that are buying longboards and cruiser boards just to ride from place to place. They’re not really “Skateboarders” but they are considered that by the public eye. And if they’re just buying one of these boards that gets them going super fast and they don’t know what they are doing then that is going to get them hurt, and that adds to negative statistics against skateboarding as a whole.
How do we get the information out there?
Who is responsible for providing and sharing this information?
And what is our target audience?
I think everyone needs to recognize this issue right now and help to fix it. It’s just like when you’re in the skate park and there’s a new kid that obviously doesn’t know what they’re doing and keeps cutting people off, standing in the wrong spots and constantly getting in the way. You make the choice to ignore them and live with it, or go over and educate them about park etiquette. Which one will go further? People need guidance in these situations, and this is where we’re at with longboarding in the streets. If you see someone riding dangerously, try and stop them and let them know that what they are doing is representing all of us and they need to be more respectful and cautious. And when you see these people on their penny boards and cruisers that are obviously not real skateboarders, ask them if they know what they are doing and if they need any advice. Let them know there is information online to guide them to what they need to know. They are setting our reputation. And if you are a really good skater or longboarder who is ripping through the streets, let’s try and follow the rules of the road for the next while and not be another statistic that affects our entire community. Remember that there is actually a bi-law against skateboarding on a city street, let’s not get that turned into a full law.
This issue will pass eventually but until then we are walking on broken glass. Skateboarding is actually way down on the list of sports related injuries but most people consider it way more dangerous than all the organized sports. Basketball is actually the most dangerous sport according to who visits the hospital the most, but the news is not displaying that, they are only talking about us right now.