Historically, I've only had to worry about dodging pedestrians while I'm riding my bike through the quad to class. Lately, though, I've noticed a new type of obstacle: the skateboarder or scooterer. Cruising atop his ironically retro vehicle, this incipient foe zips along more quickly than his lumbering peers. He's not as fast as me, but he's as confident, which makes him dangerous. Every time I visit campus, I notice more and more of these dudes on scooters and skateboards. What gives?
I did once pilot a scooter myself, back when Razors were at their peak popularity. I scooted from home to school every day. Yeah, I know you were jealous. But that was a decade ago, and the Razor was already a nostalgic rehash of a trend that occurred a decade before that. Do the scooter cycles keep coming? It seems like every ten years, we'll get to see students and young professionals goofily pushing themselves forward on two wheels and a board.
The skateboards, though less absurd, also seem bizarre around these parts. I do not go to a school where kids are "cool" by any means. These are not skaters grinding rails or pulling 180s outside of the gym. These are just kids skating along to class, with no hint in their appearance that they belong to the subculture associated with their chosen vehicle. It seems like it's been adopted for sheer convenience, rather than aesthetic or status.
And maybe it is more convenient. I love my bike, but I do need to lock it up somewhere everytime I dismount it. I can't just tuck it under my arm and carry it with me up to class. And there's no guarantee that it'll still be where I left it when I return. Bike thieves are everywhere, but you can't steal a vehicle that never leaves its owner's sight.
Maybe the cost-effectiveness of a scooter or skateboard makes up for their relative slowness. You'll never get a flat because there's no air in your tires. And tuneups are likely something you can coordinate yourself with a wrench and some WD-40. Technically, I could tune up my own bike, but I'd need a lot of supplies and someone to show me how to do it. It's not a particularly complicated machine but assuming responsibility for its maintenance requires a skill set I don't have right now. Maybe one day when I have my own garage or just a good space for fixing things up, I'll learn, but for now it's more convenient for me to walk my bike over to the shop whenever it needs fixing.
So yes, I can see the logic behind adopting a child's plaything as your primary method of transportation. And this is college, after all, so you're allowed to look silly if you want. The rate at which this trend has grown has just been alarming. But my favorite part of seeing skateboards and scooters everywhere all of the time is this: there's this one kid who rides a scooter who just makes my day every time we cross paths. He's an undergrad student, a huge guy with a big beard. And every few days, I see him zipping into the main quad on his scooter with the biggest grin on his face. His little scooter makes him the happiest dude alive. Just for that, I'm thankful that the scooter trend has invaded my school.
(Photo via Wikipedia)