Real Talk: How To Skate Open Roads and Not Get Busted
Back in high school I got into some minor legal trouble after an incident involving an unlocked back door at the local garbage truck garage and about 15 cans of spray paint. The incident taught me about the second most important rule in life: don’t get caught*.
Cliche slogans notwithstanding, skateboarding at high speed on a public road is a crime in most places. Even where it isn’t expressly illegal, people get freaked out by skaters and call the cops all the time. In my experience the police usually just give me a lecture about how dangerous this is and tell me to get lost, but I have gotten a couple tickets over the years.
Generally, in life, you don’t want to be talking to the cops for any reason. Here’s how to skate and minimize your exposure to the boys in blue:
KNOW THE SPOT: Even if you don’t know the spot, you should know about spots and how to handle the various scenarios of roads, traffic and policing conditions. If you’re not a local, ask a local. If you are local, figure it out. No matter the spot, local or visitor, take a drive through where you’re going to skate to check road conditions. Getting even a quick feel for the road that day is always recommended and is you’re first best line of defence against accidents and arrest.
TIMING: For safety and stealthiness reasons, you don’t want to skate during extremely busy traffic periods even if you know the spot. First light in the morning on a weekend is usually the best time. Midday during the week, between the morning and afternoon commutes is also good. Avoid rush hour.
DON’T LURK: As they say up in Portland, be ninjas, not pirates. If you’re skating a heated-out spot, don’t roll up to the spot and spend 25 minutes changing wheels, smoking, and getting your gear on. Prepare your board at home and be ready to skate immediately when you get out of the car. If you do need to wrench on your board, do it out of sight of passing traffic. And remember: real G’s move in silence like lasagna.
DON’T SKATE LIKE AN IDIOT: Stay in your lane and give people the smile-and-wave. Spotters are recommend even on quick missions. Don’t do that fucking stupid swerve-at-oncoming-cars NorCal thing. If you do do something stupid, peace out for an hour or so.
BE ALERT: The shuttle driver and/or spotters should pay attention to uphill cars or pedestrians. If they are visibly bummed, it’s time to leave for the next spot. See above rule for don’t skate like an idiot.
ONE AND DONE: It usually takes at least ten minutes for police to show up after they’re called. If you know the spot is heated, take one run and jump into the car quickly and and leave for the next spot before they arrive. There are few things as satisfying as driving past cops on their way to bust you.
BONUS CRIMINALITY ADVICE:
ONLY COMMIT ONE CRIME AT A TIME: Skate long enough and you will eventually deal with the police. Most cops don’t really give a shit about skateboarding. They absolutely do care about controlled substances, and the stereotype about skateboarders being potheads has a firm basis in truth. A skate ticket might ruin your afternoon. Getting popped for possession in the wrong place might ruin your life. Smoke at home or get one of those crazy science vaporizer things.
Finally, if you do everything right and the cops come anyway, just tell them you left your ID at home and your name is Patrick Switzer.
*In case you were wondering, the number one most important rule in life is “never pay retail.”