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Utilitarian Skateboarding: Insight Into an Emergent Mode of Mobility


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Michael Harpool, Graduate Research Assistant, Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at PSU

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Utilitarian Skateboarding: Insight Into an Emergent Mode of Mobility

  1. 1. UTILITARIAN SKATEBOARDING: INSIGHT INTO AN EMERGENT MODE OF MOBILITY Michael Joseph Harpool MUS, Portland State University Friday Transportation Seminar– June 1, 2018 Committee Members: Jennifer Dill (Chair), Aaron Golub, & Naomi Adiv
  2. 2. Research Interests In recent decades, planning and research efforts to enhance active transportation rates have increased significantly; however, these efforts have focused primarily on bicycling and walking For what information does exist on utilitarian skateboarding there are large knowledge gaps, which this study seeks to address ◦ The social factors of choosing to travel by skateboard ◦ Skateboarders’ use of the existing transportation infrastructure and the value attributed to bicycle and pedestrian facilities ◦ Differences between different populations of skateboarders, especially gender I sought to provide a report which could inform future transportation policy and promote more inclusive transportation networks by accommodating users not typically considered by decision makers Personal connection to skateboarding– over the past 16 years skateboarding has contributed significantly to my well-being and identity and has been a critical component of my every-day travel routine A clear understanding of the factors which may affect an individual’s decision to bike or walk “is an essential prerequisite for designing policies which can tap latent demand for non-motorized travel.” (FHWA, 1992)
  3. 3. Contribution of Existing Literature Active transportation literature ◦ Societal benefits (Pucher et al., 2010; Clifton et al., 2012) ◦ Mode choice (Dill and Voros, 2007; Dill and Carr 2014) ◦ Route Choice (Broach et al., 2012) Urban Governance and Skateboarding ◦ Spatial tactics to deter skateboarders (Chui, 2009; Nemeth, 2006) Skateboard Transportation ◦ Prevalence (Fang, 2015) ◦ Regulations (Fang, 2013) ◦ Safety and speed (Fang and Handy, 2017a) ◦ Mode choice (Fang and Handy, 2017b) ◦ Route choice (Walker, 2013)
  4. 4. Research Questions What are the key motivations and barriers to utilizing skateboarding as a mode of transportation? What are the social, legal, and environmental factors that impact route choice amongst utilitarian skateboarders? How do skateboarders utilize and value existing transportation infrastructure and how does comfort differ between facilities? Do the answers to these questions differ in accordance with the skateboarders’ personal characteristics (i.e. gender, skill, and frequency of use), and if so why?
  5. 5. Methodology Mixed Methods Approach Dominant/Less Dominant Design (QUAN#qual) Online Survey Results Semi-Structured Interviews Results Padgett (2012)
  6. 6. Recruitment In-person intercepts in Portland, OR Various social media platforms Meetings with local skateshop managers Flyers distributed around PSU and key locations in Portland, OR Emails to relevant organizations and agencies (survey only) Snowball sampling
  7. 7. Responses Survey ◦ 390 responses (18 yrs+) ◦ 28 incomplete surveys ◦ 92% U.S. Interviews ◦ 5 participants ◦ Portland, OR
  9. 9. Selected Demographics 86% 13% 1% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Male Female Non-Binary Gender (n=362) 52% 28% 9% 9% 2% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55+ Age (n=361) 76% 11% 8% 4% 1% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% White or Caucasian Other (two or more races) Hispanic or Latino/a Asian Black or African American Race/Ethnicity (n=359) 74% 19% 7% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% Employed full-time or part- time School only Neither Employment (n=359)
  10. 10. Skill and Experience Age Group Started Skateboarding Started skateboarding for recreation Started skateboarding for transportation Less than 10 years old 22% 22% 5% 10-17 years old 60% 59% 59% 18-24 years old 10% 10% 22% 25-30 years old 3% 3% 6% Greater than 31 years old 5% 6% 8% n 390 389 381 Average 14 yrs 14 yrs 18 yrs 8% 51% 34% 7% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Beginner Intermediate Advanced Expert Self Reported Skill n=390
  11. 11. Skateboarding Frequency and Trip Type Green represents “Frequent” skateboarders 6% 2% 1% 9% 17% 14% 13% 17% 31% 41% 22% 17% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Transportation (n=389) Recreation (n=390) Never Less than 1 day per month 1-3 days per month 1 day per week 2-4 days per week 5 or more days per week 62% 71% 55% 81% 55% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% Commuting Personal Errands Entertainment Exercise/recreation Get to skatepark/ skatespots Type of Trip n=388
  12. 12. Types of Skateboard used for Transportation 6% 15% 42% Breakdown of Multiple Types (n=145) Longboard + 118 81% Cruiser + 100 69% Skateboard + 95 66% Electric + 8 6% Multiple Types 37% n=386 x̅=6.77x̅=3.83 x̅=9.51x̅=3.28Average Distance (miles):
  13. 13. MODE CHOICE
  14. 14. Primary Motivations Fun and enjoyment (81%) ◦ For most skateboarders travel is not a disutility to be minimized (Mokhtarian and Saloman, 2001) ◦ Unsurprising given the inherent link to recreation Convenience (42%) ◦ Frequent utilitarian skateboarders were significantly more likely to cite this as a motivation (χ2; p<.001) ◦ Elements of convenience ◦ Multi-modal transportation ◦ Flexibility/maneuverability and control ◦ Easy to store and carry ◦ Short urban trips Lifestyle (34%) ◦ Males 2x more likely to select this as a motivation (χ2; p<.001) ◦ Females often face additional barriers to entry within the skateboarding culture (Beal, 1996) ◦ First study to highlight the important role lifestyle plays in mode choice amongst skateboarders and how that role differs between populations
  15. 15. What Might Deter Skateboarding for any Given Trip? 73% 72% 61% 47% 40% 33% 33% 31% 29% 8% 4% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% Barriers n=386
  16. 16. ROUTE CHOICE
  17. 17. The Built Environment DESIRED FEATURES AVOIDED FEATURES 1% 1% 1% 1% 12% 2% 4% 2% 1% 1% 1% 2% 25% 11% 2% 13% 21% 25% 27% 31% 48% 15% 49% 9% 27% 34% 31% 26% 32% 30% 23% 23% 88% 56% 43% 44% 46% 35% 20% 25% 15% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Smooth surface conditions Gentle downhill slopes Wide sidewalks Streets with designated bike lanes Various fun features to skate Parks and urban plazas Low speed streets Steep downhill slopes Streets with shops, restaurants, etc. Highly Avoided Somewhat Avoided Doesn't Matter Somewhat Desired Strongly Desired 36% 43% 26% 26% 17% 4% 48% 37% 30% 30% 29% 33% 13% 15% 38% 37% 50% 54% 2% 3% 4% 5% 2% 7% 1% 2% 2% 2% 2% 4% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Rough surface conditions Steep uphill slopes High volume traffic Low level of public safety Streets with regulations prohibiting skateboarding Gentle uphill slopes Highly Avoided Somewhat Avoided Doesn't Matter Somewhat Desired Strongly Desired n=368
  18. 18. “Micro-Features” Micro-features include obstacles that may be used by a recreational skateboarder, such as embankments, small ledges, and staircases Fang and Handy (2017) – skateboard commuters tend to travel in straight lines and refrain from performing stunts ◦ This is likely in most cases where there are few micro-features (bike lanes, streets) or where there is heavy traffic of any sort ◦ “If you're using it for a mode of transportation, and you're in those [bike] lanes just going to where you gotta go, we're gonna be moving at the same flow as cyclists.” However, the high value attributed to routes consisting of micro- features is representative of the playful interaction between skateboarders and the built environment during travel ◦ These interactions are not likely to be risky or flamboyant rather quick and subtle with the goal of continuous forward movement ◦ “I can jump off the sidewalk, jump back on the sidewalk, if there’s like a three-stair I can still keep riding over it and do a little trick for fun.”
  19. 19. Route Preferences by Group Female and infrequent utilitarian skateboarders attributed a higher value to features that might enhance safety (χ2; p<.05) ◦ Wide sidewalks ◦ Designated bike lanes ◦ Low speed Streets Male and frequent utilitarian skateboarders placed a higher value on features that pertain more to fun, enjoyment, and thrill (χ2; p<.05) ◦ Micro-features ◦ Steep downhill slopes ◦ When controlling for skill, gender was a significant indicator of the desire for hills, which is consistent with a study that found male skateboarders are more likely to identify and engage in risk taking behavior than females (Atencio et al., 2009)
  21. 21. Facility Use Possible Explanations ◦ The variance in surface conditions and traffic levels could encourage skateboarders to select the facility which best accommodates comfortable travel ◦ Some skateboarders are aware of the prohibitions and abide by the traffic laws, resulting in a shift between facilities ◦ The presence of different facilities varies from street to street, requiring skateboarders to rely on the facilities available Females were significantly more likely to report utilizing sidewalks more often than other facilities (Emond et al. 2009) 46% 23% 18% 9% 4% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 45% 50% All three equally Sidewalks Bike lanes Motor vehicle traffic lanes Other Facility Type N=368
  22. 22. On-Street Comfort levels Reported comfort ranged from very uncomfortable (1) to very comfortable (4) Skateboarders reported feeling most comfortable on separated bike paths (x̅=3.83) The mean comfort level on residential streets is fairly high even without bicycle route markings As speed increases above 25 mph: ◦ Comfort levels decrease significantly ◦ The significance of the designated bike lane increases Females and infrequent utilitarian skateboarders felt significantly less comfortable on faster streets, with or without designated bike lanes (t-test; p<.000) 3.59 3.81 2.79 3.39 2.03 2.72 Without Designated Bike Lane With Designated Bike Lane MeanComfortLevels A quiet residential street with traffic speeds of 20-25 mph A neighborhood commercial shopping street with traffic speeds of 25-30 mph A major urban or suburban street with traffic speeds of 30-40 mph t=-16.496* t=-15.758* t=-8.123* Paired sample t-tests: df= 367; *p<.000
  24. 24. Back to my Questions What are the key motivations and barriers to utilizing skateboarding as a mode of transportation? ◦ Motivations: Fun and enjoyment, convenience, and lifestyle ◦ Barriers: Poor infrastructure, wet and extreme weather, distance, and regulations What are the social, legal, and environmental factors that impact route choice amongst utilitarian skateboarders? ◦ Skateboarders value safe, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing places to travel and their route choices are sensitive to surface conditions, traffic, and slope ◦ They also value micro-features which incite playful interaction with the built environment How do skateboarders utilize and value existing transportation infrastructure and how does comfort differ between facilities? ◦ Skateboarders place a high value on sidewalks and bike lanes, and comfort levels tend to change with the speed of the adjacent motor vehicle traffic Do the answers to these questions differ in accordance with the skateboarders’ personal characteristics (i.e. gender, skill, and frequency of use), and if so why? ◦ Yes, different groups of skateboarders value different attributes of skateboarding, prefer different routes, and are deterred by different barriers ◦ These differences are influenced by familiarity, skill levels, and varying concerns for safety and thrill consistent with pedestrian and bicycle literature
  25. 25. Planning Implications Acknowledge skateboarding as a mode of transportation ◦ Portland skateboarders attributed a high value to Portland’s recognition of skateboarding and believed it improved their experiences ◦ Include skateboarding in travel surveys – More data will allow cities to better understand and address the needs and desires of skateboarders Revisit and attempt to disentangle spatial skateboarding regulations with consideration for how they might impact skateboard travel Set clear standards on where skateboarders can and cannot ride and educate enforcement officers and the general public ◦ Cities must consider the differential preferences for facilities based on comfort, skill, and gender ◦ Skateboarders do not require their own spaces within the transportation network, yet they desire to be accepted and recognized as legitimate users of the existing spaces. Safety education and training courses ◦ Recreation- and transportation-oriented settings Consider skateboarders in Complete Streets design and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects “There is a need to consider how to create generous geographies that allow for more, and playful, mobilities in the city, no matter how modest” (Stratford, 2016)
  26. 26. Future Research What are the barriers for individuals who do not utilize skateboarding as a mode of transportation and what might motivate them to consider skateboarding for utilitarian purposes? What are the perceived benefits and barriers of utilitarian skateboarding amongst younger populations (K-12) and what are the implications for safe routes to school? How is skateboarding currently perceived within public planning agencies and the general public, and are skateboarders being considered in transportation policy decisions? How does the presence of skateboarding impact the use of other modes, and what is the best way to encourage mixed use on transportation facilities originally designed for a specific user? How might electric skateboards mitigate some of the fundamental barriers to skateboarding transportation?
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  28. 28. Photos