Mastering Your Skill at the Skate Park

 By: Jasmine Stone
Most offer a variety of surfaces for different skill levels, from a kiddie course, through a main street course, to a vertical ramp and bowl for the most skilled. Usually, a skatepark needs between 18,000 and 25,000 square feet in order to meet all skill levels. In beginner areas, individuals with limited or even no experience can practice out of the way of intermediate and advanced skaters; the beginner areas can feature small hips, moguls, banks, curbs, and rail slides.

The skatepark designers' association recommends that parks include street elements such as ledges, stairs, and rails familiar to non-skaters, to allow skaters to practice in safety. Not only will a place to skate, skateparks offer modestly-priced lessons to give students back information, skateboarding techniques, and safety gear. Skateparks are reused facilities, in that municipalities frequently develop skateparks from unused basketball, tennis court, or parking lots. In developing new skateparks from old facilities, architects are counseled to follow the ten quick rules for design, which are simplicity, smoothness of surface, no kinks, flatbottom, no overcrowding, pushing room, no ledges over your bellybutton, edges that grind, pumpable hips, and lights.

While some of these are clear, others require a bit more explication. Any skatepark needs flat bottom between obstacles, since skateboarders generate speed by pumping up and down transitions; maximum flatbottom allows more skateboarders to skate at the same time without collisions. Any wall, bank, or skate able pool's edges must be hard and grind able; a slightly protruding edge allows a skater to feel where they are. Street elements-curbs, blocks, and walls-should be included in every skate park's design.

There are two ways to accomplish transitions between flatbottom and included surfaces; either round, with a perfect radius, or banked, with a tighter transition curve; the wall's height determines the transition, but the angle should never exceed 50 degrees. Skateboard parks offer safety. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that more than 15,600 people a year require hospital emergency room treatments for skateboard-related injuries.

More than half the injuries are caused by falls due to irregular riding surfaces. Wrist injuries lead, followed by sprains and fractures. A third of the injuries are sustained by those who have been skateboarding for less than a week. The best advice that the National Safety Council can offer is, 'wear your protective gear,' 'learn how to fall,' 'use your skateboard properly,' and 'head to the skatepark.'
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