The beauty of skateboarding is that you can do it anywhere. But, at the same time, you’re told you can’t do it here.
So, you have to make do with what you have.
And that DIY attitude is an integral part of skateboarding – using the stairs, ledges, rails (and sometimes even just the flat ground) around you to skate the hours away. But sometimes you don’t have all that much around you to use, or the security guard points to the ‘No Skateboarding’ sign and sends you on your way.
That’s when skateparks come into play.
“Skateparks are important for skateboarders to learn and develop,” says Neil Ellis of Skateboard England, the official governing body of skateboarding in England and Wales. “There’s over one and a half thousand skateparks in the UK, and they’re a big part of the community.”
Skateparks have become the home of the people banned from everywhere else, only because of the piece of wood and four wheels rumbling along the concrete beneath their feet. But what about Lincoln’s skateparks? Do Lincoln’s skateboarders have anywhere to go?
There aren’t any skateparks in the city centre, but the skateboarder’s desire to get one led to a petition in 2017. Unfortunately, it came to nothing. Lincoln doesn’t even have a popular ‘spot’, like the iconic Southbank Undercroft in London for example.
The closest options for skateboarders based in the city centre are the Moorland Skatepark, at Moorland Backies, or the North Hykeham Skatepark. But these are just over two miles and four miles away from the centre of Lincoln respectively.
Not exactly easy to get to if you can’t drive. You’re also without a skatepark if you don’t live in some of the nearby Lincolnshire villages lucky enough to have them.
And a lot of Lincoln’s skateboarders are students, so the latter probably doesn’t apply to them.
The closest, Moorland Skatepark, has been criticised by skaters, with the 2017 petition claiming it’s dangerous and “very poorly built”. This is something Neil and Skateboard England have noticed with UK skateparks in the past.
“Lots of councils felt that they needed a skatepark, but then built them without any consultation with local skateboarders or skate shops,” said Neil. “So, they were built by companies without any knowledge of skateboarding – and this left them with bad parks”.
That shows Lincoln’s skatepark problem.
Should skateboarders stay in the city centre, and get chased away at every place they try and land a trick? Or should they travel two miles away to skate at a park not fit for purpose?
Failing that, they may even have to travel to Skegness or Nottingham for safe and usable parks.
City of Lincoln Council currently has no plans to build a new skatepark, but with skateboarding due to make its debut as an Olympic sport, the surge in popularity may force its hand.
“The Olympics will raise the credibility of skateboarding and legitimise it in people’s eyes,” said Neil. “Now, as it is a recognised Olympic sport, it will benefit.”
“Skateboarding is a real sport and will need real facilities.”
Perhaps the lack of facilities is why the ‘No Skateboarding’ sign by the front of the Minerva Building, at the University of Lincoln, has been ignored recently. Ignoring the rules and making do is what skateboarding is about – but they shouldn’t have to make do.
Skateboarders feel they should be able to have a local space.
Alex Jordan, skateboarder, and founder of The Skateparks Project, says that people constantly contact the directory wanting help in getting a local skatepark. But they still need to make sure it’s right when they get it.
“Just because people have a local skatepark, doesn’t mean that skatepark is any good,” Alex says.
“Many are still too small or just unsuitable.”
So, Lincoln’s skateboarders search for a safe and happy home goes on.
Skateboard England will be releasing a document this month to help local councils with the process of building skateparks, and has recently unveiled a skatepark finder app.
Hopefully that app will be filled with more skateparks near Lincoln city centre in the near future.