While skateboarding continues to increase in popularity and participation as indicated by our North American and European Youth Culture Research Studies, many street skaters still have a tough time in various parts of metropolitan America doing their sport legally.
Street skaters, usually made up of a crop of new-school, younger generation skaters who don’t ride bowls and halfpipes like their fellow vert skaters, are known for making the most out the detritus of their urban environments by using concrete landscapes of their existence such as staircases, railings, benches, picnic tables, and curbs, to do tricks on. However, many building owners, property managers, and local police consider street skaters a hazard, even illegal, citing tickets to those they can catch. Even if street skaters are skating in public places, it can still be an illegal act if city principals say so.
The most notorious disconnect between city officials and street skaters is the Love Park dilemma in Philadelphia . Love Park, a public space with an architectural design that also happened to be filled with curbs, concrete ledges, rails, and staircases, inadvertently made it a mecca for skaters who flocked from New York, Encinitas, Barcelona, Paris, and Tokyo to check out where the most progressive new tricks were being created. Philadelphia however, closed Love Park to skaters last year, despite skaters’ protests.
Ironically, it’s the smaller cities where the tide is turning in some areas of the country, such as Brainerd, Minnesota, which, according to a recent AP article indicates funding has been approved for a new skate park that includes aspects street skaters’ use, such as picnic tables and railings to do tricks on.
Kettering , Ohio , is building a street skate plaza with the support of DC-sponsored skater Rob Dyrdek to be opened next year. The hype behind Kettering ’s park is that it’s clearly designed by a professional street skater, which makes it a coveted destination vs. other parks that are not designed by skaters and therefore missing key components or creating design element flaws, i.e. creating surfaces that are too slick.
While the Kettering street skate plaza is a positive indication that street skaters will gain more ground to ride in the future, unfortunately, the disconnect between mainstream-sports and the so-called fringe sports generations continues to rule out gaining too much concrete for street skaters in other metropolitan areas. Based on the growing demographics of young males and females street skating in America and globally, we believe there will be a time in the near-future when public officials, cities, and parks will take notice of the growing congregations of young people behind local malls riding off deliver ramps and ledges and will see the benefits of building street skate plazas intended for today’s generation of athletes.