Skateboarding To Work: Why It May Be A Great Option

skateboarding to work

So you’re pondering the thought of getting a skateboard for going to work everyday. You’re wondering if it’s a crazy idea or if skateboarding to your office is a reasonable and viable option.

Skateboarding to work can be a good choice for you if:

  • You’re reasonably fit and have some boarding experience
  • Your work is at a reasonable distance from home
  • Your commute path has relatively flat and smooth ground
  • You wear casual outfit at work – or you can change at the office
  • You don’t have anything big to carry to work and back
  • The weather is not overly rainy
  • You use a portable skateboard setup with comfortable wheels
  • Skateboarding is not prohibited by law in your city or work zone

1. Skateboarding to work: fitness and safety

skateboarding to work fitness and safety

Here are some key factors to take into account when deciding whether skateboarding to work is for you.

Your fitness level

Are you a fit person? Skateboarding a few miles to work requires stamina and some cardio endurance, as well as toned up core and lower body muscles for pushing.

Your skateboarding skills

If you’re newer to skateboard and have little confidence, you’ll probably go very slow at first e.g. walking speed. Until you’re comfortable standing and pushing on your skateboard for commuting, you’ll have more chances of falling, namely because it’s easier to get stopped dead by a crack or pebble when riding slow. With practice, however, you’ll gain confidence fast

Know how to stop?

If you skateboard to work a few miles daily, you have to know how to foot brake! Practice standing and balancing on one leg while moving, then lower your other foot and drag your shoe sole against the ground.

In short: if you’re a reasonably fit person, you’re ready to learn and practice, and you wear appropriate protective gear, then skateboarding to work is a viable option.

2. Skateboarding to work: distance and terrain

skateboarding to work distance or terrain

Whether you can easily skateboard to work obviously depends on how far and how long your commute is and the type of terrain you’ll be riding on.

Distance to work or to station

If your office is less than a mile away from home, skateboarding to work will likely be a 10-minute commute depending on your pushing skills (see average skateboard speed). Skateboarding to the office works particularly well for short journeys and for metro area transportation.

Or, if your daily trip to work involves going to the bus or train station 10 or 15 minutes away, you can easily cut your time by skateboarding to the station and taking your skateboard with you on the bus/train.

Riding surface

Skateboarding to work is much easier if you have bike lanes and smooth paved surfaces linking your home and office locations. If on the other hand, your skateboarding commute path goes through gravelly spots, cobbles, uneven or cracked pavement or sidewalks, riding to work will be more of a hassle or require better skills.

Flat or hilly terrain?

Flat even ground also makes skateboarding for transportation easier. A slight downhill with little traffic and nice surface is even better for skate commuting to work since you have less pushing to do – although you’ll be pushing uphill on the way back.

In short: smooth pavement and sidewalk, flat or slighty downhill terrain will make it easier and faster for you to skateboard to work. Traffic and crowded pedestrian sections will also slow you down.

3. Skateboarding to work: outfit and carry load

skateboarding to work outfit and carry load

Whether skateboarding to your work is practical also depends on what the dress code and appearance required for your job.

Professional appearance requirements

If you have an office job, you probably can’t ride your skateboard to work in your office shoes, you need some sturdy skate shoes for your commute! Also, if you need to wear a suit at work, wearing it when skating is risky as there’s always a slight chance you may fall, even if you’re skilled. If you wear casual clothes at work though, this is obviously not an issue.

Another thing to be aware of is, depending on the length of your skateboard commute to work and your speed, you may often arrive at work all sweaty. Whether it’s a problem depends on whether you’re able to clean up and/or change clothes when you arrive at the office.

On the positive side, skating to the office every day, you’ll always arrive at work well awake!

Carry load

Another factor to consider when deciding if you can skateboard to work is how much stuff you need to carry on your back. Carrying a small laptop in a backpack is straightforward when using skateboarding for transportation. However, adding more stuff e.g. a suit and a pair of shoes can result in uncomfortable extra weight on your back. If you do, though, make sure to strap your backpack tight to your body.

In short: if your work has a strict dress code, you’ll need to change clothes when you get to the office. Keep in mind though, that there’s only so much you can carry when skateboarding to work.

4. Skateboarding to work: having the right setup

One huge factor in whether skateboarding to work is viable is the type of skateboard you ride. Here are a few important setup considerations.

Commuting speed & comfort

For skateboarding to work every day, you want larger and softer wheels than a traditional skateboard. Larger wheels ride faster, softer wheels roll better over obstacles as they deform more – although harder wheels will roll faster on very smooth surfaces.

Comfort vs maneuverability

A longboard may be a good choice for work commuting as they typically have the large soft wheels you want for sidewalk cracks. Longboards also tend to have wider decks (8.5″+) giving you more comfort and stability.

BUT… what you win in comfort, speed, and safety on a longboard, you may lose in maneuverability and portability. A drop-through or double-drop longboard, for example, is very comfortable to commute and push on, but tends to be big and heavy to carry on the street or into the office. It’s also harder than a regular skateboard to dodge around people and obstacles.

Middle ground setup option

So how do you solve this equation for a skating-to-work scenario? One option would be to fit larger softer wheels (with risers) on a regular skateboard, though you typically can’t go much bigger than 60mm. Alternatively, look for a shorter cruiser longboard in the 32-34″ range – usually with a slightly larger wheelbase than a street skateboard – and with a kicktail for quick maneuvering and sidewalk hopping.

Examples of great city cruisers for work commuting? See my reviews of the Loaded Poke (high end) and the Globe Blazer (quality but affordable).

In short: for skating to work, choose a city cruiser on the short side (shorter than your leg) for portability and storage, with bigger wheels for speed and comfort, and a kicktail for maneuverability.

5. Skateboarding to work: legal restrictions

skateboarding to work legal restrictions

In many cities, skateboarding is prohibited on streets and sidewalks or at least as in specific parts of the city such as business districts or at night time. This is generally a result of skateboarding’s history of anti-social spirit, with young skateboarders thrashing hardcore tricks on street furniture and disturbing neighborhoods with aggressive and reckless behavior.

Respectful skateboard travelers are often tolerated in many places, however, and even more so since longboarding has been growing in popularity as a mode of transportation. Nevertheless, some jurisdictions haven’t adapted their laws and you can get in trouble simply for skateboarding across town to work or to the store.

Likewise, in the past some campuses have banned skateboarding altogether, but many have now re-allowed as many people use skateboarding for transportation to class or work on campus.

In short: check the regulations in your city or campus to know the kind of trouble you may get into when skateboarding to work – you may get there late!

6. Skateboarding to work: weather

Heavy rain will typically prevent you from commuting to work on a skateboard for any significant distance. Skating on wet pavement is difficult and unsafe, even though some experienced riders are capable of it. Skateboarding to the office in pouring rain or with heavy snow is no fun and will get you soaked and possibly injured.

If you live in an area where it rains a lot, you may want to look for an alternative to skateboarding for daily transportation in the wet season.

Final words

Skateboarding to work can be a fast, cheap, and healthy way of commuting on a daily basis. However, it’s not for everyone and for every situation. Your physical abilities and skills, the path you commute on, the type of board you ride, the weather, the kind of job you do, as well as your local regulations, are all factors that affect whether skateboarding is viable for your day-to-day transportation.

***
Photo credits:
– Featured “Board-ing Light Rail” (CC BY 2.0) by Brett VA
– “The Gritty City Pusher” by @ChristianRosillo; Rider: @JongbinJo; @Loaded Boards
– “Skateboarding in New York” (CC BY 2.0) by LindsayKinkade
– “crossing” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Charley Lhasa
– “skateboarding is not a crime” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by sbamueller

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Big Kahuna

Hi I'm Jesse. All my life I've been passionate about the board riding lifestyle. Some years ago I got into longboarding, and in doing so, I discovered a whole new universe and a fantastic community. There's something for everyone in longboarding regardless of age, gender, size, and fitness level. Ride on!

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