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Author: William A. Stein
William's Skateboarding Diary

William's Skateboarding Diary

I'm keeping a diary of nontrivial skateboarding adventures, since I started skating again in early September.
  • 17 September 2002: After dinner and writing my first lecture, I decided to skate at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School for fifteen minutes. In the evening, some of my colleagues swim, some lift weights, and some run on a treadmill; I skateboard. I was careful to only skate by the sidewalk, since there is a "No Skateboarding" sign up by the school. I started landing some solid grinds and lip tricks on the huge blocks. Within ten minutes, I was surrounded by flashing lights as Patrol Officer Steve Bikofsky, Badge #501, Cambridge Police Department, flew his patrol car onto the sidewalk. He asked me for identification, informed me that I was trespassing, and asked me if I had any outstanding warrants. He then explained that he would fill out a form about me, and that if any police officer were to ever again catch me skateboarding there, they would arrest me. (This was a bluff, because he didn't call my information into headquarters or punch it into his computer, so he couldn't possibly know if I had been caught skateboarding there before, unless he had caught me before.) He then went on to claim that many of the other cops who answer calls do arrest skaters, even on a first "offense". It would be ironic if I missed teaching the first day of my course because I was arrested for skateboarding.

    I then tried to find out what the relationship between cops and skaters is like in Cambridge. Bikofsky claimed that he got over a dozen calls a day from a woman who "lives across the street" from the Cambridge School, and not just for skateboarders. However, he wouldn't name even a single other location in Cambridge where he's been called to kick out skaters. I asked him to clarify where I could skate. Can I skate on the sidewalk or in the bikelanes, given that I pay a huge amount of taxes? Are there any places set aside for skateboarding? He said that whether or not a location is public property is irrelevant; for example, the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School is public property. I asked him about local tennis courts, and he said they were OK when open, and added that they are usually closed at night, which is when he incorrectly assumed I usually skate. There is nowhere set aside for skateboarding. Is it ironic that even Flagstaff, Arizona is much more enlightened regarding skateboarding than Cambridge?

    As the conversation went on and he realized I wasn't a punk kid, he became somewhat apologetic, and the "just doing my job" cliches topped off our conversation. Indeed, he was, and he did it well.

    The moral I took away from my 10 minute talk with Bikofsky is that one should be fluid in street skating, in the sense that one should quickly move from place to place, so as not to annoy anyone in particular. Don't stagnate and session one place, but instead flow quickly across the city. That's much more of a challenge, anyways.