Skateboarding and the City

Skateboarding is becoming a legitimate part of the urban landscape by revitalizing public spaces and engaging young people and the broader community.

1 minute read

September 4, 2019, 7:00 AM PDT

By Camille Fink

Skateboard Park

Sarah Jessup / Shutterstock

In many cities around the world, skateboarding was considered an activity on the fringes that should be prevented or policed. "But today, a growing body of evidence shows that skateboarding can help attract investment, reclaim public spaces and create resilient communities," writes Chris Lawton.

Skateboarding has empowered youth through after-school programs and partnership with municipalities to design and build infrastructure. In Tempere, Finland, skaters worked with the local government on a series of skatepark projects that also provided employment opportunities. "The city’s tourism agency now uses skateboarding in its marketing. Skater and academic Mikko Kyrönviita sees this as a wider example of 'DIY placemaking' – where local young people help shape the way the city is marketed to visitors, and how urban space is designed and managed," writes Lawton.

Proponents also argue that skateboarding helps foster more diverse, mixed-use cities. Skateboarding is an asset to cities that energizes public spaces and engages communities through planning and use, according to Lawson. "Michael Barker, a New York skater and architect, advocates soft-edged spaces ‘seamlessly integrated into the life of a city’ (as opposed to the ‘hard edges’ of traditional skateparks), to help address the loss of the urban commons."

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