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Strengths and vulnerabilities of teenagers who skateboard for transport in New Zealand

Authors: Aimee Ward*, Kent State University
Topics: Transportation Geography, Australia and New Zealand
Keywords: mode share, skateboard, teenage well-being, transport policy, transport infrastructure
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2020
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual Track 8
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Background: Skateboarding as a mode of transport is not often considered in transportation planning. Those who skateboard are vulnerable road users, and often made to feel unwelcome no matter where they ride, as skateboarding bylaws vary by city, county, state and country. The purpose of this presentation is to indicate key differences among teenagers who skateboarded for transport, and discuss implications for future transport policy, from a rural New Zealand perspective.

Methods: A comprehensive online survey, querying teenagers about their transport habits and subjective well-being, was disseminated to students in Southland, New Zealand, in 2015 (n=775).

Results: Of the study sample, 7% of adolescents (n=50; 72% male) used skateboarding for transport. Those who skateboarded reported more physical activity, more activities overall, and higher self-perceived strengths than their counterparts who used other modes of transportation. Skateboarders also reported more screen time than the rest of the sample, and 52% reported feeling unsafe while travelling by skateboard.

Conclusions: Health and transport are intertwined. In “car-centric” countries such as New Zealand and the U.S., travel surveys should include “skateboard” as a transport option to provide a better understanding of both teenage well-being and transport use to inform research, planning, and policy. Creating shared travel spaces, or re-designating existing infrastructure for multiple uses, could improve the experience of all users, while maintaining well-being benefits and addressing safety concerns that were found in this study.

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