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Skateboarding for transportation: exploring the factors behind an unconventional mode choice among university skateboard commuters

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Efforts to promote non-motorized, active transportation modes typically focus on walking and bicycling. However, other self-propelled devices such as skateboards, roller skates, and push scooters can and are being used as means of transportation. In California, users of these unconventional modes travel up to an estimated 48 million miles per year. Skateboarding in particular appears to be an increasingly popular niche travel mode in areas with good weather and younger age groups, including college students. Why do skateboarders choose to skateboard for travel rather than using more conventional modes? To investigate this question, we interviewed and surveyed skateboard commuters at the University of California, Davis, home to over 1000 skateboard commuters. It appears skateboard travelers are motivated by a feeling that skateboard travel is both fun and convenient. The importance of fun is not particularly surprising given the common association of skateboarding with recreation. However, the importance of convenience shows that skateboarders do not think they are sacrificing functionality for fun. In fact, skateboarders view skateboarding as uniquely practical, blending near bicycling speeds with pedestrian-like flexibility. This runs counter to some regulations that restrict skateboard travel based on a perception that skateboarding is an unnecessary nuisance. The results demonstrate the attractiveness of a travel mode that blend characteristics of walking and bicycling.

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Correspondence to Kevin Fang.

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Fang, K., Handy, S. Skateboarding for transportation: exploring the factors behind an unconventional mode choice among university skateboard commuters. Transportation 46, 263–283 (2019).

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