I am writing in response to the March 10 Xpress cover story, "It's a Grind."
I fully support the idea of retooling the skateboard ordinance. I think there are a few issues at play here. One is the fact that some kids with skateboards tear stuff up. This unfortunately is going to make it a hard sell to get skateboarding seen as a viable means of transportation. I love the four-wheels-down idea. Let us skate as transportation in Asheville, but save the property-destroying tricks for the skatepark. As is done in other progressive towns, ticket the tricksters and let the commuters ride.
The original intent of the law had to do with brakeless, free-coasting vehicles. When it was enacted, people were riding on metal wheels. Equipment and riding styles have evolved so that all but the novice can stop in a reasonable distance. Am I saying skateboards have brakes now? No, but we can slow down and stop by foot braking, carving, sliding, drifting and sit braking (butt on the board, both feet on ground). Today's wheels made for commuting are made of grippy polyurethane, which is much more controllable than metal on asphalt was.
There is a whole new breed of skateboard developed specifically as a viable means of transport. I am referring to the longboard. As opposed to today's typical skateboard, which was engineered to do tricks at the skatepark or street, the longboard hearkens back to the original skateboard, the Californian sidewalk surfer of the 1950s. The modern longboard skateboard is usually about a foot longer than a typical board, has much larger and softer wheels, turns easier and is much more enjoyable to ride on the street and at distance. People cross continents on them. Google "Adam Colton" from Loaded Boards. The world record for distance is 250 miles in 24 hours. You see many commuters on them in pedestrian- and bike-friendly towns like Portland and Seattle.
When I began to incorporate a skateboard with walking my dog a few years ago, I ended up becoming a longboarder. The ride was so much smoother, much more fun and safer. I am 43, and falling hurts more and longer than it used to, so I avoid it. I started to replace local car trips with longboard journeys. I thought I had really found a great way to be easy on the environment, stay fit and have a lot of fun while commuting. That is, until I realized what I was doing was illegal. I am going to look to the downtown skate shops as the gathering place to stage a political call to lighten up on skateboarding commuters.
— Sunny Keach