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?