Every skatepark is kind of like its own tiny little country. Most parks have their own rules and their own culture, but almost all follow the same basic etiquette. Here are ten things that you always want to avoid when sessioning a skatepark.
1. Don’t Be A Snake
In simple terms, this means, “Wait your damn turn!” If someone else just dropped in, you have no idea where he’s going. He may transfer back and forth across the park for a solid 45 seconds, or he may hit one quarter and pop out back on deck. But if you drop in while he’s riding he also may smash right into you. So pay attention when other people are riding and don’t be a snake.
Nobody likes a snake.
2. Don’t Take Marathon Runs
I know you are only 12 and have the stamina of a frickin’ wildebeest, but buddy, you gotta know when your time is up. If you are actually good enough to do a lot of lines, transfers, and tricks, then occasionally it’s all right to take a lengthy run. But if you are pedaling across the park, carving halfway up a six-foot quarter, then cranking up the mellow bank before popping a wheelie, then you have to keep your runs short and sweet so other people can get in there and shred.
Don’t be this guy.
3. Don’t Ask A Million Questions
You may want to know if that good kid who just did a Nathan-Williams-inspired no-hander is sponsored, if he can do a backflip, what kind of frame he is riding, what kind of frame he thinks you should buy, and where he got his skinny jeans and shoestring belt, but those kinds of questions can get really annoying when he’s trying to have a chill session. If you must ask a question, make it a good one-one being the key word. It may make it easier on you too if you compliment him first, and thank him after he answers. (Example: Hey man, that no-hander was rad to the power of sick! What kind of frame do you ride? Oh, cool. Thanks. See ya later…)
4. Don’t Use The Flat Bottom To Learn 180s
Basic tricks like flat ground 180s and manuals should be learned in a place where you have absolutely no chance of getting in someone’s way. You know, like your driveway or something. Not at a crowded park.
If you want to work on your hang fives in a straight line, take it to the parking lot and get out of the way of people sessioning the park.
5. Don’t Be A Jerk To The Young Kids
Everyone has to start somewhere, and even though it may be frustrating that there is a six-year-old with a huge, bulbous helmet learning to pedal up a wedge while you are trying to land your first flyout tailwhip, if you are a complete jackass to the lil’ chap he may decide to pick up a scooter and leave his bike in the garage. Then by the time you are pro, that’s one less shredder Timmy out there watching your Vimeo video and buying your signature grips. Be patient with the kids and try to help them on occasion. And if their parents are around, maybe give them some advice, too, on how their kid can safely ride the park with everyone else. It’ll help the parents, it’ll help the little kid, and it’ll help you get in your runs without having to be worried about bicycular manslaughter.
Yes, I know seeing a sight like this at the park is annoying, but try to be patient. When he’s old enough to read, help him out by sending him a link to this article.
6. Don’t Be A One-Upper
If you see someone trying a trick over and over again, don’t go do it right in front of him just to show him how easy it is for you. That’s like a slap in the face. If you know how to do the trick, you can offer to help him out. Or if you want to try the trick, too, you can ask him if he minds if you try to learn it together. Then you can both learn from each others’ mistakes, and by the time you both pull it you have a made new friend to add on Facebook and poke the next time you are going to the park.
One ups were cool in the days of Mario and Luigi, but at the skatepark they are just lame.
7. Don’t Disrespect The Locals
This one covers a lot of ground and includes things like not leaving trash at the park, not messing up the ramps or ledges, and understanding how the park runs itself. If you show up to a park for the first time, chances are you are riding into someone else’s home away from home, so you need to treat that place with respect. You may never go back there again, and you may not care if the ledge gets chipped when you try your 180 to backwards feeble, but the people who ride there every day of the week want to keep their spot in tip-top shape for as long as possible. The vibe of the place and watching how the locals treat the park and each other will give you a pretty good idea of how you should act there.
8. Don’t Sit On The Ledges
No, those are not benches for you to post up for the afternoon and eat your Lunchables. People actually use the concrete rectangles for riding. In some instances it may be okey to sit on a ledge, and sometimes it may be okay to chill on the deck of a ramp, but before you get comfy, look around to make sure no one is eyeing up whatever it is you are sitting on. You’ll eventually develop a sixth sense for where riders are going and where the safest place to rest is, but until you fully understand it, stay far off to the sidelines when you aren’t riding.
“Cool antlers and all, but get the hell out of the way so I can try my Smith to 180.”
9. Don’t Vibe The Skaters
One of the most annoying things a skateboarder can do to a bike rider is stand on the coping with is board propped up on the tail, waiting to drop in. While this may make you want to air out and kick their board right out from under them, you have to understand that skateboarders ride differently than us, and to them, that’s perfectly acceptable. If you need that coping or deck space they are taking up, just give them a quick heads up that you are coming their way and they will probably move for you. Respecting everyone in the park, including skateboarders is always important. The more bike riders and skateboarders can get along at a park, the more parks bikes will be allowed to ride. Now, as for rollerbladers and scooter kids…you are on your own there.
10. Don’t Be Afraid To Apologize
If you slip up and break one of the rules above, don’t be afraid to apologize to people when you realize it. If you get plowed over because you were in the way, dust yourself off, make sure the other rider is all right, and tell him you are sorry for not looking out. He’ll be pissed that he crashed, but a simple apology goes a long way to fanning the flames of a hot head.
No need to make a big deal of an apology and bring flowers to the guy you pissed off; a simple, “My bad, dude.” should suffice.