More and more college students use a longboard to get around campus. Longboarding lets you get to class or to the library much faster than walking, and makes you much more mobile around college without having to spend a lot of money.
In this post, I discuss the advantages and drawbacks of longboarding in college, some important tips for doing it, and how to choose the right longboard for campus transportation.
7 key pros and cons of longboarding in college
Pro #1: longboarding in college is relaxing and fun
Riding a longboard in general is fun, but doing so in a college environment can be even better since you typically ride in a nice and safe environment with many other young people around – and possibly other longboarders. Riding your longboard can get your blood flowing and your brain moving in the morning before your first class. Longboarding is also an awesome way to unwind after intense college classes or a stressful exam.
Pro #2: longboarding on campus is faster than walking
Most students walk to places on campus. Longboarding lets you move around faster than walking. Average speed when commuting on a longboard is around 7-8 mph which is much faster than most walkers.
If you live off campus, a longboard will get you to college fast. You can also ride your longboard between college buildings e.g. for going from class to class.
Pro #3: longboarding on campus is better than biking
OK this is debatable, but depending on your campus configuration, you may be able to get from point A to B faster on a longboard than a bike on campus since you can ride everywhere as long as there’s relatively smooth surface – including on sidewalks and pedestrian pathways.
Plus, a longboard is generally much cheaper than a bike (and to maintain as well). And much more portable: no need to worry about locking up your longboard outside a college building. See my post skateboard vs bike.
Con #1: hauling your longboard inside college buildings
The flip side of not having to lock up your longboard on a bike rack is that you have to carry it with you all the time, including in campus hallways and to class. Choosing a smaller longboard (e.g. a cruiser) for college will help a lot though – it will be lighter to carry around or you can stow it inside a campus locker.
Con #2: you may get to class all sweaty
If you push hard on your longboard for long distances across college campus, it will likely give you a serious workout and you may start sweating. As a result, you may not look so fresh when getting to class. To mitigate this problem, consider carrying an extra shirt in your backpack, and allow for enough time to stop by the restrooms and freshen up before class starts.
Con #3: weaving around college pedestrian and bike traffic
When longboarding in college, one thing you have to cope with is riding on crowded pedestrian pathways. Pedestrians are generall unpredictable and tend to stop, jump, or change direction without warning as you’re about to pass them. Groups of walkers also frequently take up the whole path and block.
Likewise, if you ride your longboard on college bike paths, bike traffic can be dangerous as collisions with reckless rushed bikers is not uncommon.
Con #4: longboarding college girls attract unwanted attention
Girls commonly complain about the amount of attention they get when riding their longboard around college. Boarding is a male-dominated sport and college guys tend to stare. Many female college students are wary of being viewed as posers when riding a longboard on campus.
9 useful tips for longboarding in college
The following are some key tips to know for longboarding in college.
1. Know campus rules and policies with respect to longboarding
Skateboarding may not be allowed everywhere on campus – it probably isn’t inside college building and in corridors for example. Study your college policy with regards to longboarding. Also, don’t take the risk of getting longboards prohibited on campus because of your illegal riding.
2. Learn about college campus paths you can longboard on
When your main path for getting to class or to your college library gets crowded, you have to take an alternate path on your longboard. It’s important for you to know which other paths are available to you and if they are smooth enough and safe to ride on. Know which paths and sidewalks to avoid due to big cracks, beat up surfaces, dirt or gravel, stairs and curbs, etc.
3. Avoid steep hills on campus
When longboarding in college, avoid riding down a big hill where there are many walkers or where it ends up in traffic! You may end up hurting someone and/or yourself.
4. Know how to stop quickly when riding on campus
It’s important to know how to stop quickly when riding your longboard on campus if you’re on a collision course with a pedestrian or an obstacle. You should practice bailing, i.e. jumping off your board and catching your balance to stop yourself. As you jump off, practice pushing your longboard backward so it will slow down and stop. Besides bailing, foot braking is another important technique to master for longboarding in college.
5. Avoid dense college crowds and campus rush hours
Avoid riding your longboard on really crowded campus paths e.g. in front of a dining hall around lunch or dinner time. Getting caught while weaving in and out of crowds can be hazardous both for you and pedestrians. Also, if longboarding a campus path for the first time, make sure you do it at a time when it’s not too populated, not when there is massive crowd of students!
6. Beware of pedestrians when longboarding on campus
Even if you manage to avoid crowds, there’ll always be some pedestrians – student and faculty – on the college campus pathways you longboard on. Don’t ride obnoxiously! Don’t take up the entire sidewalk and push people over. Communicate verbally or through explicit gestures to let them know your riding path.
7. Avoid longboarding on campus in bad weather
You should generally avoid longboarding in rain and snow as you can easily slide on the wet ground or slip off your wet board. If you’re going to longboard on campus in bad weather, though, go slower than normal and use extra caution. Consider getting a cheap longboard you can ride in the rain to avoid damaging your main board. Also, be wary of wet leaves getting stuck in your wheels.
8. Know where to stow your longboard in class
Depending on how your college classroom is set up and your longboard’s size, you can stow your board under your seat trucks up, or prop it in the wall by the door. Just make sure it doesn’t get in the way – you can even ask the professor about it. Foldable longboards are great for taking them to class – see the last section of this post.
9. Wear a helmet when longboarding on a college campus
Few students will take this advice, but wearing a helmet can really reduce your risks if you fall or crash into something. Granted you may not look as cool and free when riding your longboard, but safety first! A helmet will also make you look more respectful of safety and rules in other people’s eyes.
Choosing the right longboard for college
There are quite a few choices when it comes to choosing a good longboard for college commutes. Your choice will affect the amount of speed, comfort, and maneuverability you’ll get when riding around campus. The following are a few good options to consider:
Mini-cruiser longboard for college riding
Mini cruisers are quick and nimble, easier to maneuver than larger longboards on tight or crowded college pathways. They are small and lightweight for carrying around college buildings and classes. Their big soft cruiser wheels give them good roll speed, tight grip, and good cushioning on rougher terrain. Mini-cruisers typically have quick turning trucks and a functional kicktail for doing quick turns and small hops on/off campus curbs.
Drop-through longboards for college riding
Drop-through longboards (trucks mounted across the deck) give you a stable and low ride, secure foot placement between the trucks, and good wheel clearance (no wheelbite). They are typically larger and more comfortable for commuting on longer distances, more stable at higher speeds, and easier to push on. They have even bigger wheels than most mini-cruisers and hence they easily roll over big cracks and bumps.
On the flip side, they are often bulkier, heavier, and not as maneuverable in tight spaces. A drop-through is a good option if you live farther from campus and need to commute longer distances. It may not be as practical for carrying around or for quick short hops between college buildings.
UPDATE: the Landyachtz Drop Cat is an awesome short drop-through that offers both a comfortable ride for distance riding and a compact and portable size for carrying inside college buildings. See my mini-review here or check out its price on Amazon here.
Boardup foldable longboard
The BoardUp foldable longboard is foldable longboard which may provide a good option for college commuting and other situations that require a highly portable longboard. This board has a 33″ deck made of maple and glass fiber, large soft 75mm wheels, and a special alloy kickpad and middle hinge that allow the board to fold in half safely and easily.
I haven’t personally tested the BoardUp but it does sound like the perfect longboard for college! Check out its price and review here on Amazon.
Longboarding in college is a fast, fun, and athletic way to get around, faster than walking and often more practical than biking. Just be aware of your surroundings, such as which pathways are best for your commute and which areas to avoid due to campus crowds. Also, be sure to research and choose the right longboard for your specific needs.