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Knickerbiker: Shining a light on NYC's skate commuters

Steve Rodriguez

Steve Rodriguez Photo Credit: Rob Meronek

With Bike Month completed, let’s turn our attention for a moment to the city’s most daring commuters: skateboarders. Whether on longboards or standard-length varieties, they’re the ones kicking their way up bridges or grinding down the city’s flat avenues.

Ahead of this weekend’s Maloof Money Cup NY in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, I spoke with NYC skateboarding impresario Steve Rodriguez, who designed the homage to city skate parks that is the bedrock of the second annual showcase.

What is the essence of a New York City skater?

Everything here is a little rougher and ... grittier, and you only have half the year to skateboard all the time. A true New York City skateboarder, it seems like every time you see him, it’s the last time he’s going to skateboard, in a way.

Is skating convenient for getting around New York?

I think it’s for short distances — I don’t see it [for] going over a bridge because the method of propulsion is kind of very difficult going uphill on a skateboard. But being that Manhattan is kind of flat and most of Brooklyn’s kind of flat, I think it’s great for commuting. ... But a skateboard is so convenient. ... The No. 1 complaint in New York City why people don’t want to use a bike is because it’s gonna get stolen.

Are the same New York skaters who do tricks just using their boards for transportation?

I do [think so]. Those are the people who can best handle themselves on a skateboard. You know, who’s going to feel more comfortable riding through New York City on a bicycle than someone who is a BMX biker?

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