Dump that bike, change to a longboard, 'surf the road'
By Rebecca Ciesielski, dpaBERLIN--Over 50 colorfully decorated longboards hang in the Lassrollen skateboard shop in Berlin's Friedrichshain district. A young female customer is looking for what she describes as a “handy set of wheels” for a trip to France.
August 12, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
Longboards are large skateboards measuring between 80 and 120 centimeters in length and they are a great way to get from A to B.
Thomas Steigueber owns Lassrollen and says there's no such thing as a typical longboard rider.
“Last week a building company owner came in with his 11-year-old son,” recalls Steigueber. The next person to come in was a mother who he advised to get a board with especially soft wheels.
Dads, students and tourists are just a few of the types of person who ride longboards.
“Five years ago I was being asked what a longboard is,” says longboard owner Richard Ruchay, 29, who is sitting in front of Lassrollen with friends enjoying the evening's summer sunshine.
Skateboards and longboards may be similar but for Ruchay they are not the same at all.
“Skateboards are to longboards what a BMX bike is to a racing bike.” Skateboarders and BMX riders are adept at performing jumps and pivots but longboarding is about “surfing” the road.
A longboard's large, soft wheels are perfect for reaching high speeds on roads. They can even reach up to 100 kilometers per hour downhill.
Ruchay says a longboard is a great alternative to riding a bike and he says he often travels long distances on his board. But there are regulations in Europe that define where a longboard can be ridden in urban areas.
In Germany, for example, they are supposed to use paths but for Ruchay that's too dangerous for pedestrians and he prefers the carriageway of the road.
The longboard trend has even encouraged a debate about how to encourage other forms of transport in urban areas.
German Green politician Stefan Gelbhaar says city planners need to rethink how city dwellers get about. “Basically we need to create more space for alternative modes of transport.”