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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 08-05-06, 05:24 PM   #1
chephy
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Rollerblading/Inline skating

This is basically a thread dedicated to inline skates (which I like to call rollerblades despite knowing that this is a trademark and not a generic term). I know this is not really related to bicycles, but is related to car-free living. I wonder if anyone around here uses inline skates for transportation in addition to a bicycle.

I got me a pair recently and today was my first real transportation skate (to an LBS for bike parts actually ). Here are some observations:

Rollerblades are FUN, FUN, FUN! However, they do possess a number of limitations. In my view the most serious ones are:

- Can't use them in iffy weather conditions: wetness, snow, mud are difficult/impossible to ride through and destroy the skates. Rough surfaces are also a problem, while anything unpaved is simply out of question.

- Unless you are a very experienced skater, there is not as much control on rollerblades as on a bicycle; braking in particular is a huge concern. Some methods are safe but not very effective (can be used only at relatively low speeds and result in a long stopping distance). Some are more effective but really wear the wheels down and require a lot of lateral room. I know the more experienced you are, the better you are at stopping, but I think this is a general consensus: rollerblades have no real brakes and stopping is tricky to master.

- The legal status of a rollerblader is unclear. I feel quite confident on the road as a cyclist, mostly behaving like a vehicle and all, and not afraid to go on arterial streets and "block traffic" but on rollerblades it's just not the same. The use of rollerblades is regulated on the municipal level and sometimes rollerbladers just seem to be prohibited everywhere: on the sidewalk and on the road. Sometimes there seem to be no laws regulating the activity: I couldn't find any local Toronto laws on the issue, for example. Cagers, I think, are a lot less tolerant of rollerbladers on the road than of cyclists, although this is just a perception influenced by my own biases - I may very well be wrong. I see rollerbladers on arterial roads occasionally - they seem to behave like most cyclists (hug the curb, hop between road and sidewalk) and get about as much/little harrassment. However if they were to behave the way I do (take the lane when necessary for safety, for example), I predict they'd get a lot more harrassment than cyclists behaving in this fashion. I won't try any experiments in the near future to confirm this conjecture though.

- One generally moves slower on rollerblades than on a bicycle. Roughly at about half the speed, I would estimate.

There is, however, one definite advantage to rollerblades: you can always bring them inside with you. Lots of businesses just let you roll right in, and when they don't, it's pretty easy to change into street shoes and stuff the skates in your backpack. And of course rollerblades are something new and fun. Given my love for wheels and human-powered vehicles, my adventurous fun-loving spirit, and my paranoia when it comes to bike theft, I think I'll be using rollerblades for fair-weather relatively short utility trips when traffic is light (weekends, nights, early mornings). I might also use them on MUPs, parking lots and running tracks for fitness and to learn cool tricks (now, this is really off-topic, I know ). Any comments, stories, suggestions, sharing of experiences is welcome. Do you ever skate places?

Last edited by chephy; 08-05-06 at 05:36 PM.
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Old 08-05-06, 09:37 PM   #2
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I tried to use my rollerblades to commute with here in San Francisco, but the pavement here is horrendous. On my 1.8 mile commute, there was maybe one block of smooth asphalt. There was only one small hill, maybe two blocks long, but even that much seemed like it was going to wear out the brake way too fast. When I lived in the Boulder/Denver area of Colorado, I rollerbladed for recreation once in awhile. There are some pretty nice bike paths there, which are great for rollerblades, not so wonderful on a bike (too many unpredictable pedestrians).

My conclusion is that they are only good for really flat, really smooth, really dry pavement or concrete. That makes them way too limited for most places, most of the time.
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Old 08-05-06, 09:57 PM   #3
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I've been toying with the idea of buying speed skates, But I am still concerned about stopping.The pavement isn't very good either.
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Old 08-06-06, 08:06 AM   #4
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I'm wondering what are all the options for transportation that fits into a backpack.

There is one guy I sometimes see who arrives at the bus stop on a Razor scooter. It has skate wheels. It's step on / step off, so curbs, potholes, steps and hills are easy to deal with. It folds up and clips onto his backpack. He doesn't seem to have any trouble with stopping.

I'm coveting a Brompton folding bike that fits into a backpack. The only problem is, it's a monster backpack.
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Old 08-06-06, 08:18 AM   #5
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It may be a good alternative for me when I drop off a bike at my lbs. It's all of a 20 minute walking distance from my house. My issue with that is my impatience. That 20 min walk takes forever!
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Old 08-06-06, 09:19 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Platy
I'm wondering what are all the options for transportation that fits into a backpack.
It would be very interested to read about those (although I suspect there aren't that many)! I love "compact"! A scooter seems like a pretty practical and fun option.

A skateboard comes to mind, but I suspect it has a pretty limited range of application.
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Old 08-06-06, 09:28 AM   #7
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BTW, for those who live in neighbourhoods with rough roads...



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Old 08-10-06, 08:20 PM   #8
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How about skateboards?

I have seen some young people with skateboards who ride the bus and 'board to thier final destination.
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Old 08-10-06, 08:34 PM   #9
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The thing I don't like about roller blades is when someone decides to take to the street with them. I was in the passenger seat of a car driven by my friend when someone on blades made a left hand turn onto the main drag of town. If was very difficult to anticipate where he was going exactly since he was taking very long strides from side to side.
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Old 08-10-06, 09:10 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nelson249
The thing I don't like about roller blades is when someone decides to take to the street with them.
That's exactly the thing I don't like about cars!

Quote:
I was in the passenger seat of a car driven by my friend when someone on blades made a left hand turn onto the main drag of town. If was very difficult to anticipate where he was going exactly since he was taking very long strides from side to side.
I am not really defending the rollerblader (it's a grey area in the law anyway...), but why not just be cautious and give him a whole lane? Why do people in cars think they always have to "go-go-go", and slowing down for a few seconds to sort out a potentially confusing sitution is extremely undesirable at best and simply out of question at worst?

Quote:
Originally Posted by smurfy
How about skateboards?
Never owned one. But from what I see they seem somewhat impractical: too much work is required to keep them going. But if they work for somebody, then I'm all for it as long as cats and little old ladies aren't been run over.
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Old 08-10-06, 09:54 PM   #11
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Played roller hockey, stopping isn't a problem perform a t-stop or a quick and swerve pot holes are funn means time to jump I would do more if my hockey skates fit and I am spending so much on bikes no days
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Old 08-10-06, 10:27 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smurfy
How about skateboards?

I have seen some young people with skateboards who ride the bus and 'board to thier final destination.
Skateboards are COOL. But I imagine that unless you could train yourself to switch off pushing with either leg, you would end up with a totally unbalanced physique eventually causing serious hurt to your spine. Maybe that's why only the youngest dudes are riding them - all the older skateboarders are riding Segway scooters now 'cause they walk sideways.
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Old 08-11-06, 05:08 AM   #13
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I have those Landrollers that your picture shows. They aren't as good as I thought they would be, for going on rough roads. They are also a bit different from normal blades, in that its not as easy to accelerate and stuff. I'm still experimenting with them, but so far, I would rather skateboard than ride landrollers.

I have trained myself to push off either leg with my skateboard. I have bigger wheels so can roll over pretty much anything without hassle. It is alot of fun too... sometimes I listen to my mp3 player, and I'll be totally into the hip/hop and incorporating it into my skating, its almost like some sort of dance.
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Old 08-11-06, 10:47 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chephy
That's exactly the thing I don't like about cars!

I am not really defending the rollerblader (it's a grey area in the law anyway...), but why not just be cautious and give him a whole lane? Why do people in cars think they always have to "go-go-go", and slowing down for a few seconds to sort out a potentially confusing sitution is extremely undesirable at best and simply out of question at worst?

Actually, we did give him the full lane and waited till the left one was clear before passing. It is just that the motion of roller blading wierds people out because it is not always apparent what line they are travelling.
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Old 08-11-06, 02:39 PM   #15
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A friend of mine used inline skates and public transportation for a few months but switched to a cheap bike. She used to skate to work from Arlington VA to Downtown DC. After she got the bike she never went back to using the skates for transportation.
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Old 08-11-06, 05:28 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryanparrish
Played roller hockey, stopping isn't a problem perform a t-stop or a quick and swerve pot holes are funn means time to jump
I think it's a bit different with hockey: you're literally playing on a level field, right? You also have lots of room to maneouver. Trying to stop as you are rolling downhill and there is a car a couple of feet to your left seems like an entirely different matter.
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Old 08-13-06, 02:23 PM   #17
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I like rollerblading, but my base makes me wear more pretective gear then when I ride my bike, which I find interesting. Anyway, I like rollerblading, but as was stated before, the ground has to be really flat for it be comfortable or for me to feel totally in control, which make them more selective than road bikes in my opinion. When I rollerblade I use the sidewalk unless the right most lane is large than I will use it instead. I like rollerblading, but I find it more difficult than using my road bike.
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Old 08-13-06, 10:06 PM   #18
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I regularly see a rollerblade commuter along the local MUP into the city. My guess is her commute is at least 10 km (7mi?). She seems to go pretty quickly, but it sure looks like hard work (I've never successfully skated)
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Old 08-15-06, 10:07 AM   #19
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I spend a lot of time on skates...mostly speed skates...which means I average 16 mph or faster. The new trend in Speedskates is bigger wheels (not as big as LandRollers). 100mm wheels take rough pavement a lot better than the smaller 80mm wheels for example.

One big advantage I guess would be that it's easier to carry skates with you .
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Old 08-15-06, 05:43 PM   #20
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I love to skate, but I can't stop well enough. T-stops will not stop me in time, turn-stops just won't work in the space, and I can't hockey stop. As others have mentioned, the pavements round my way are not good enough either. What I have seen is people skating on the street in central london - the surfaces are good, but they're braver than I am......
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