10 Possible Consequences of the Disappearance of the Paris City Skates
Despite their taking part of the Parisian urban setting for over 20 years (a whole generation!), the recent events remind us with violence that nothing should ever be taken for granted for the city skates of our big cities. The symbolic meetings of Paris, the Friday Night Fever and the Rollers et Coquillages Skate are both under threat of extinction.
The big strikes of 1995 witnessed — even triggered — the booming of skating, an unprecedented movement in France. Over 80 conurbations throughout the whole French territory saw the creation of city skates.
But don't go thinking that their existence has always been an evidence. In Paris, just like in other big French cities, Lille or Montpellier, city skates had to fight hard to acquire their statuses and legibility. In some other main cities, like Marseille, they have already disappeared. Skaters attending city skates don't always have the hindsight to realize it.
1. The Tempting Comeback of Non-Official City Skates
We already witness it with the aggressive practices (skate, skateboard, scooter, BMX), skateparks are not enough to channel all skaters on a unique spot. Skating is just like other urban wheeled practices, and draws its essence from the topology of the city. Without official events, skaters will keep on practicing autonomously, and in non-secured ways. Removing means is only shifting the problem, maybe even accentuating it.
2. The Fragmentation of Skater Groups
Let's illustrate this point by the scenario of a disaster movie: it's all very nice to explode a huge meteor instead of deviating its course, but in the end, you find yourself with thousands of fragments heading right towards the Earth. They are going to be even harder to manage! Supervised mass practice will be replaced by small mobile groups, uncontrollable and erratic, that will increase the risks of friction, maybe even accident.
3. The Lack of Identified Representative for the Authorities
When you have a non-official city skate, most of the time, there is no organizing association behind it. It is the case for all informal meetings set up on Facebook or OVS. The authorities will have a hard time to find a representative to talk to, and channel those "spontaneous" gatherings.
4. Increased Risks for Skaters
With lack of qualified and visible staff (yellow reflective vests, lights), or without staff at all, the skaters, left to their own devices, will put themselves into more danger than within a structured skate, staffed by expert skaters. In official skates, skating red lights, with the trafic blocked by the staff or a police officier, doesn't have the same consequences as in an informal skate, undeclared at the prefecture, especially in case of an accident.
There's no smoke without fire: did you know that, in London, those informal city skates are nicknamed "Suicidal" skates?
5. Conflicts on the Public Place
Relations with car drivers who find themselves blocked by city skates are not alway very cordial. It is quite frequent that drivers try to force their way through, or a pizza delivery, a pedestrian in a hurry... Most of the time, the arrival of the forces of order is enough to calm the vehement motorized persons. But imagine the same scene in an unofficial city skate, it will be a whole other story.
6. The Decredibilization of the Skating Movement
Eventually, the lack of structure may lead to two consequences on the image of skating:
- A progressive desertion of skaters, leaving the asphalt in favor of other practices, making the skating movement lose in size and decline some more.
- An identity becoming blurred and unclear, an illegal practice image, disturbing public order.
7. The Loss of an Exceptional Weekly Showcase for Skating
Big city skates have been regularly featured in the media since their creation. They create a bond between the associations and the general public. They are often a place of recruitment for skating clubs, an opening to other skating practices. They make skating visible. They show skating is not just a child's play, but also a fully-fledged sports practice.
8. A Hard Blow for Green Transport Militancy
While a handful of leaders enter the dark side of the denial of climatic changes, the blow to city skates is also a blow to a certain vision of ecology, and to alternative means of transport. The comeback of the almighty car... Regression is right around the corner!
9. The Decrease of the Tourist Appeal of the French Capital
Just like green lanes are adding value to the French territory, city skates enable skaters to own the city and discover it with a fresh look — not behind a driving wheel. People come from all around the world to skate the streets of Paris, with all the financial benefits that it generates for the local economy.
10. A Possible Snowball Effect on Provincial Cities
Today, it's Paris. Tomorrow, Lyon, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Montpellier, Lille, and why not others? Who says that other city councils won't follow the example of the French capital? Let's support the Parisian city skates now, not to wake up in a few months realizing the same fate is now happening to other city skates.