Skateboard Squad

Vehicula quadrirotata.

The self-propelled vehicle of 2009 has been this two-wheeled skateboard-like contraption which seems to be propelled like a Venetian gondola by wiggling the aft wheel from side to side. I have no idea exactly what they’re called, but as a former skateboarder, I feel compelled to regard them as rather risible. They seem to be a skateboard designed by overanxious parents. You know the sort – they’re busy ensuring their children’s obesity by ferrying them to and from school because a.) you should see the amount of traffic on the roads (that’s all those parents taking their fat brats to school) and b.) the streets are crawling with perverts (it was in the Daily Mail or some other reputable fish-and-chip wrapper read by the cred­ul­ous).

It was with some surprise that I saw a couple of kids with skateboards earlier this afternoon. If I have seen kids on skateboards in China, it’s been so long since I’ve seen one that I’ve forgotten the last occasion I did. But this is not a skateboard-friendly country outside of parks where the surface might be flat, smooth and unobstructed. The pavement here would give you average council in the UK nightmares because of the unevenness of the surface.

But a couple of skateboarders was nothing when a whole horde came thundering down 总府路 this evening, perhaps numbering about twenty-five to thirty. I noted that not one of them had a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads or any sort of protective kit. One of them turned to video the others on a stretch of road which is reasonably smooth, but has various manhole covers which might topple an unwary skateboarder.

I managed to pass them all just ahead of the next intersection where they did a little chant. Anywhere else, the police would probably have stopped them because what they were doing was dangerous to the skateboarders themselves. On that stretch of 总府路 there are only barriers between the cars and the cycle lane as you approach the intersection.

After that, I don’t know what happened to them. When it comes to taking off, I’m normally first across the road when the light goes green and I was anxious not to find myself negotiating my way through the horde along the cycle lane to 天府广场.

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2 thoughts on “Skateboard Squad”

  1. Ah, you’re getting old! Those bisected boards are called "Rip sticks," (perhaps spelled as a single word. I’m too disinterested and lazy to Google the answer regarding the matter). Skateboarding is still a fringe thing here. Back in 2004 I saw some boarders doing 11pm shredding off of Nanjing Lv in Shanghai. Since then, I’ve seen a lot of them out and about ‘roudn the country. In Xi’an, about two clicks behind the Dayan Pagoda area, there’s a skatebaord park. It’s open to the public and fairly well kept, too. Most of the locals at the park had no clue about it. Since around 60% of Shaanxi are migrants and peasant farmers with f. a. education (beyond Ma-ow and D’uh-eng b. s. shoved through their skulls), they simply walked up them and let their kids use them as slides. (Ugh!) A few of the hipper, possibly better educated (but with the Gaokao that’s doubtful) urbanites knew what the half-pipes and quarter-pipes were for and used them appropriately. Unfortunately, they have to navigate around the peasant kids who are allowed to roam in danger’s path (par for the course with mainland safety standards!), since their parents have no actual clue what the yellow, concrete mounds sticking out of the ground are used for.Good luck in Wuxi! I also know of skateboard contingents in Beijing, Shenzhen and Wuhan. Wherever there’s a punk scene you tend to run into skateboarders here. Not a bad thing. At least they’re not wasting time doing nefarious things like studying for the Gaokao, becoming gangsters or members of the parrrrrrrrrrrrrty-that-isn’t-a-party-because-there’s-no-booze-dames-or-music-at-their-shindigs.

  2. Yeah, I am getting old. A rip stick, eh? I don’t think anyone’s going to be ripping anywhere on one. They seem rather sedate, which is probably why kids in Chengdu like them. I can’t really imagine your actual skateboard park in China, but I can imagine people not having the faintest what it’s all about. I assume the reasoning went, "Americans have skateboards; therefore, we must have a skateboard park to be the advanced nation."

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