Parent: On skateboards and the fear of God

Tabi Parent, Op-Ed Contributor

Nothing in my life made me want to be a skater girl more than growing up in San Francisco. It’s not hard to long for a life on wheels when you live among all the effortlessly chill, beanie-wearing, tie-dye-clad boarders of Haight-Ashbury. 

But nothing in my life made me want to be a skater girl less than owning a 90-pound mutt who harbors an innate fear of skateboard wheels.

For a 5’2” girl walking a dog the size of Chewbacca, hearing the distant, rumbling sound of skateboarders approaching is like hearing the hoofbeats of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. My sweaty hand tightens on the leash I’ve already wrapped five times around my wrist. I plant my feet in a superhero stance (though really I feel like the damsel in distress in this situation) while the other hand attempts to distract “the beast” with a treat.

“Muggles! Want a treato, buddy?!”

Spoiler alert: he doesn’t. He lunges for the skinny boy wearing an oversized Nirvana T-shirt riding his double kick, tearing down the sidewalk like he owns it. I find myself in an intimate position with the ground, my muppet of a dog dragging me behind him like a rag doll.

So for my family and me, skateboards send us into lockdown mode. 

Last year, when I arrived for my freshman year at Boston College, I was quickly alerted to one of the most extensive inside jokes at the school — the fact that athletes and electric scooters go together like peanut butter and jelly. 

Suddenly, a newfound fear of the electric whir replaced the dread I felt hearing skateboarders rolling over cracks in the pavement. Watching a lanky tennis boy barrel towards you on a scooter at the speed of light during the iciest time of Boston winter is enough to make you want to transfer.

Hey! I did that (#andtransfers).

I thought I had escaped the worst of my run-ins with wheeled personal transportation devices, but then I arrived here at Northwestern. Oh, sweet, naive, summer child. 

It’s impossible to walk outside here without the possibility of being obliterated by someone on wheels. But to make matters worse, we aren’t just dealing with skateboards or scooters here. No, here the battle is against an alliance of skateboards, scooters, mopeds and bicycles. I’ve even been the personal victim of a rollerblader, and let me just say, they are the worst of them all. 

Walking on campus is like being a character in a video game. You’re dodging and weaving, sidestepping and spinning, all while balancing your coffee, phone and books. Scooters zip through campus like they’re in Grand Theft Auto, and heaven help you if you find yourself in the path of a moped. 

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the convenience of a moped or skateboard — in theory. But there’s no way you’re getting around this crowded campus any faster on a bike or rollerblades than you would speed walking.

So, people, I come to you fresh off of FaceTime with my skateboard-fearing dog to present to you the solution: the bike lane on Sheridan Road. It’s there. It exists. And it is glorious. 

I recognize it might not be feasible to shove every bike, scooter and skateboard into the green stretch that runs down Sheridan, but it is most certainly not feasible to have them all over campus amid the many walkers who are at risk of being plowed down at any moment. 

Please think of Muggles — my cute, lovable, scaredy-dog who would be very disappointed in the number of skateboards on this campus. Consider picking up that board, walking the bike and honestly just throwing your scooter away, the next time you find yourself dodging pedestrians like you’re in a video game. 

Tabi Parent is a Medill sophomore. She can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.