Instead of choosing the more classic commuting choice of biking, certain students decide to skateboard to class
Davis, widely recognized as the bicycle capital of the United States, is well-known for the bikes that whizz across streets and sidewalks. However, some students prefer a different mode of transportation — still on wheels, but with four instead of two. Skateboarders glide amongst the sea of bikers, choosing to use their boards to commute to class instead of using the traditional bikes.
“I brought [my skateboard] as a secondary mode of transportation in case my bike broke down,” said first-year biology major Anna Rhee.
Second-year biochemistry and molecular biology major Jada Garcia chose a longboard to ride around campus because it is a smoother ride and made for commuting.
Miley Couwenberg, a first-year environmental science major, decided to bring her skateboard with her as well. When she committed to Davis, she researched whether there was a skatepark and found one about a mile north of campus.
“I decided to bring it because I kind of wanted to get more into skating anyways,” Couwenberg said.
Second-year environmental science and management major Kit Chou got into skateboarding just a few weeks ago after she tried out her friend’s board. A week after trying it, she bought a longboard.
“I try to skateboard every day after school,” Chou said. “I don’t really skate at school since I’m not proficient enough or I don’t trust myself enough yet. But I skate around the West Village in the parking lot, and I ride along the roads.”
Garcia, like many other skateboarders, also has a bike that she sometimes uses to ride to campus. However, she said she prefers the convenience of skateboarding.
“I found bike parking to be hard,” Garcia said. “You can always have your skateboard with you, and you can get somewhere fast right away. You can take it on the bus too. Since I live off campus, I can bus to campus and skate around once I’m here.”
When deciding whether to bike or skateboard to class, Couwenberg said that she considers the weather, since she does not like to skate in the rain, and the amount of time she has to get to class, since skating usually takes longer.
“I feel like when I skate, I go a little slower, and I see more rather than biking,” Chou said. “When biking, I’m going faster, and I’m more focused on destination. When I’m skating, I have more time to look around.”
The Davis campus and city is well known for being bike-friendly. According to Garcia, she thinks it is also fairly skateboard-friendly since the roads are all very flat.
“If you’re like, skating cautiously, it’s pretty skateboard-friendly,” Garcia said. “I skate around Davis. I will skate from my house, and there’s not much of a difference to biking. I use the same lane as everyone.”
However, according to Chou, since she just started learning to skateboard, she finds Davis more difficult to skate in.
“It is really not safe,” Chou said. “In the roundabouts, people don’t yield, and you need to have enough room to turn. Bikers don’t don’t consider how hard it is for skateboarders to turn. I’ve almost gotten into a couple accidents.”
Even though Couwenberg has been skating since she was eight years old, she still finds it difficult to skate on the Davis campus. According to her, there are a lot of cracks in the roads that are easy to trip on and cause crashes.
“Thankfully, I have not gotten into any accidents on my skateboard,” Couwenberg said. “But there was a time, I was going to class and I was going around a roundabout and I tripped on a crack, but there was a biker behind me and there were two bikers and a skateboarder coming in. I was just in the way. It was really bad because they were all maneuvering around me.”
Rhee has also had some difficult encounters with bikers on campus. According to her, the issues usually come from bikers not understanding that skateboarders do not have brakes.
“We have to stop with the sheer force of our will or just putting our foot down and stopping,” Rhee said. “So [bikers] think ‘Oh, they’re going to stop for me. I’m on a bike. I’m bigger than them.’ We can’t stop that easily, and if we do stop the board is going to keep going. I’ve just had several instances where I just had to veer around them.”
Overall, according to Couwenberg, she thinks the relationship between bikers and skaters is friendly. She thinks the environment of the campus makes it more difficult to skate than the bikers themselves. Rhee and Couwenberg like going to the Hutchinson Parking Garage to practice tricks since the roads there are smoother.
“We do little things that I would not classify as tricks,” Couwenberg said. “We jump off curbs and slide on the ground.”
According to Garcia, she thinks there is a stigma about skaters on campus and about having skateboards in class, and people may think it is disruptive to campus. However, she thinks it is actually an effective, fun way to commute.
“It’s just a really easy way to get around campus,” Garcia said. “I use my skateboard because I can.”
Also, Rhee said that the skating community on campus is really strong, and she has made many friends through skating.
“There’s definitely a community between skaters,” Couwenberg said.
Written by MARGO ROSENBAUM — firstname.lastname@example.org