Free-Riding Is Not A Crime

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Read an excerpt below of AJ Lester’s BOONTALKIN’ column taken right from the pages of Supertrax!

Does the title of this editorial remind you of something you’ve read before? Think back to the beginning of this decade and you’d find groups of skinny kids wearing pants six sizes too big annoying retailers during the summer months.

These “criminals” hung around towns and the inner city using their skateboards to grind mom’s favorite autumn bouquet scented candle wax into cement parking curbs and freshly painted handrails.

Yes, skateboarders. Strangely enough there may be something to learn from this group of much maligned miscreants. The ever popular “Skateboarding is Not a Crime” slogan was a high profile segway allowing this group of athletes to be accepted by society through non-violent initiatives in North American cities and towns.

The majority of society had grown tired of the noise, vandalism and loitering skateboarders had become known for. Over the past seven or eight years politicians and community leaders have wisely chosen to give skateboarders a place to practice their skills without annoying the rest of the population. These places are widely known as “Skate Parks” and many are located away from the public eye.

Looking back, the journey to accommodating this activity and its participants wasn’t that hard of a nut to crack. The ultimate result has seen the extreme sports generation putting money back into the businesses that once were annoyed at their very presence.

The same story is true of snowboarders who now enjoy half pipes and fun parks as a result of revitalizing the dwindling downhill ski business.

Snowboarding and skiing now coexist and are thriving across North America. These examples have one thing in common: An open-minded response to the need for recreational space.

Fact: The next generation of snowmobilers may not be as pumped about squeezing off 200 miles on freshly groomed trails as you are.

Although many younger riders enjoy the occasional trail ride or family day there’s an increasing number begging for a place to call their own.

With trail permit sales and club membership under pressure we have to be on the lookout for ways to sustain the sport we all love. However, this new road may not immediately be understood or accepted by today’s entrenched participants.

Read more in Supertrax Volume 19, #3.

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